I keep coming back to what seems to me to be the most inhumane thing of all, the inhumane thing that happened before the rage began to rise, and before the backlash began to build, and before the cameras and television lights, and before the tear gas and the stun grenades and the chants and the prayers. I keep coming back to one simple moment, one ghastly fact. One image, from which all the other images have flowed.
They left the body in the street.
Dictators leave bodies in the street.
Petty local satraps leave bodies in the street.
Warlords leave bodies in the street.
A police officer shot Michael Brown to death. And they left his body in the street.
It’s a brutal message, it’s always been a brutal message—your life has no value, it means nothing. Obey. Submit. Don’t even think about challenging the power authority has over you.
What happens after the eulogies have been said and the latest victim of police violence has been buried? What happens after the cameras and television lights have been turned off and another grieving community has been left behind to pick up the pieces? What happens after the witnesses have all been slandered? After the protesters have all been demonized as a rioting mob? After the conservative backlash has been sanctified by the corporate media as a righteous response to “lawlessness” and “outside agitators”?
What happens next?
The killer cop is not held accountable, and this death march of young Blacks through “post-racial” America goes on.
That’s what always happens next.
Then the police talk to us, the pundits talk to us, the politicians talk to us, we’re told we should trust them, they always tell us that. But when we look into their eyes . . . there’s just devils and dust.
I don’t know whose young life will be taken next, I don’t know how much money the killer will be sent by other racists, I don’t know how many militarized police will invade that community to “restore law and order,” I don’t know which is worse–this police state, this war machine economy, this travesty of a two-party system, or the suicidal inaction of our “leaders” on the global warming crisis. But I know this much — protest is the only effective option left to us, nothing else will have any effect at all.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a political issue, an economic issue, a foreign policy issue or a law enforcement issue, it doesn’t matter if it’s inequality or racism or gun control, you can expect the same response . . .
The truth will be smashed to pieces with a corporate media hammer.
So don’t talk to me about elections, don’t talk to me about working within the political system, don’t talk to me about Obama or Congress or the courts. Talk to me about PROTEST. Talk to me about the only way out of this godawful mess. Protest is power incarnate. Protest is the storm, protest is the rolling thunder, protest is the lightning illuminating entrenched systems of oppression, with all of their corruption and all of their lethal secrets and all of their relentless, systemic deceit.
The amber waves of grain are gone. Our freedom, our civil liberties, our human rights have been buried in a field of blood and stone. There’s no accountability in the corridors of power, no justice at all, there’s just devils and dust.
We’re a long, long way from home . . . home’s a long, long way from us. We have to find our way back. Through the tear gas if we have to, through the ranks of riot police if we have to, through the bigots and the bullets and the backlash. We will bleed if we must, we will show the police, we will show the politicians, we will show the whole world that scars speak louder than the weapons that inflict them.
Photo by Chris Huggins under Creative Commons license