When I was in India several years ago, I learned a lot about its historic caste system and the role of its “untouchables.” But I never put two and two together — that we might have “untouchables” and a caste system here in America too — until I saw photos of what happened in Ferguson, Missouri, this August.
When I was in the Peace Corps in South Africa, I learned all about its grim apartheid practices in the past. But I never actually figured it out — until Ferguson — that America practiced apartheid too, and that the old apartheid bantustans of South Africa strongly resemble modern African-American bantustans like Ferguson; deliberately kept isolated, controlled and apart from the rest of America until there is almost no hope of ever getting out of them except by doing hard time in prison.
When I visited the slums of Kampala, I was struck by what a third-world country Uganda was, with many of its poorest citizens being jobless, homeless, hopeless and living a bleak hand-to-mouth existence. But it never occurred to me that parts of America have similar unemployment rates, sparse education systems and the hopelessness of a third-world country too — until Ferguson gave me that new perspective.
In Israel/Palestine, I saw people constantly discriminated against “not by the content of their character but by the color of their skin,” to paraphrase Martin Luther King. But not until Ferguson, where whites clearly hold all the power and use it corruptly, did I realize how deeply ingrained institutional racial and economic prejudice was in America too.
When I was embedded in Iraq, I saw American tanks and weaponry like you wouldn’t believe, used on Iraqi civilians to keep them in line. But it wasn’t until I saw videos of Ferguson that I realized that the use of tanks and military weaponry have become standard warfare procedure against civilians here in America too.
When I was in Burma, I saw minorities being labeled as inferior, being called insulting names and constantly being accused of laziness, stupidity, immorality and violence to the point where in some cases the minorities actually started suffering from the Stockholm Syndrome and becoming all the things that they were constantly being labeled as — but I never really brought this connection back home until Ferguson.
When I was in Honduras, I heard tales about how Ronald Reagan funded his brutal death squads there by having the CIA fly whole plane-loads of drugs into secret airfields in Arkansas via “Air America” and then sell all those drugs in the ghettos here at home.
I knew that, back in the 1980s, the sudden availability of cheap crack cocaine had hit America’s Black communities like a ton of bricks — but I hadn’t really realized how much this crack epidemic had hurt these communities, even decades later, until I saw what the results of this evil agenda of deliberately choreographing drug sales in America’s ghettos had done to the societal fabric of American cities and towns like Ferguson back in the 1980s — and how hard, even today, that “authorities” are still fighting to keep the residents of places like Ferguson from ever putting their lives back together again.
When I was in Afghanistan, I constantly heard all kinds of stories about how American military planes would arrive there all loaded up with military supplies and then fly back to America loaded down with heroin, and that the dirty-money made on these ventures would help finance the American military-industrial complex’s Forever Wars.