I’ve always pictured Minnesota as being as close to a Canadian province as you’ll find in the United States. It’s northern, it’s cold, and it’s nice.
So watching the city of Minneapolis set ablaze by protestors this past week – with the utterly surreal sight of a police station set on fire – I couldn’t help but think that if nice Minneapolis is on fire, than what chance is there for the rest of the United States?
I can’t escape the conclusion that the United States of America is finished. Once the bulwark of democracy, a country to where millions around the world aspired to live, the U.S.A. is now, just like that police station in Minneapolis, a burning, twisted hulk.
The death knell for American began to ring on Nov. 9, 2016, when voters elected a deranged, misogynist, racist, lying TV reality star as its leader. You don’t come back from something like Donald Trump.
It’s been one long horror show since. The events of this past week may be the worst in the Trump presidency, which is really saying something.
By now, you’ve seen the horrific murder of George Floyd, a black Minneapolis man, at the hands (or knees) of a white cop, who blithely applied pressure to the handcuffed man’s neck until he died, gasping for breath. Captured on cell phone video, the look on the cop’s face – one of total indifference as Floyd gasped out “I can’t breathe” – was more frightening than any Hollywood horror movie. In an unusually appropriate move, the cop and three others involved were all fired, and the kneeling cop charged with something called third degree murder. Charges are pending against the cops who watched and did nothing.
That Minneapolis, and many other cities, would erupt in rage was entirely expected. That the rage would spread across the country was also predictable. What nobody saw coming was the level of violence, the rampant destruction of property and looting that went on for three nights and counting.
The TV commentators, and more than a few supposedly impartial reporters, are blaming the violence on decades of abuse suffered by the black community, and a long tragic history of blacks being killed by white cops. But that’s only part of the story. Watch any of the videos of the riots/protests, and you will see thousands of young white people. Perhaps emboldened by the ubiquitous COVID masks, privileged white kids from the ‘burbs are in the thick of the protests. Add to the mix far left radicals, a sprinkling of anarchists, white supremacists (who want to inflame racial tensions in the U.S.), and thousands of just lousy human beings, and you’ve got a melting pot of chaos.
At times like this, Americans turn to their president for reassuring words. Not this time. Donald Trump, the barely literate leader, tweeted messages with incendiary comments like “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”, and threatened to unleash the army and “the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons.” At a White House press conference on Thursday, Trump was expected to speak about the violence – but instead spoke about pulling the U.S. out of the World Health Organization and criticizing ‘JI-nah’. He then walked away. Not a word about the existential crisis facing his country.
Why has he been so quiet (Twitter rants notwithstanding)? Simple. He doesn’t know what to say. He is surrounded by sycophants who won’t tell him the truth. He is almost incapable of putting together a coherent English sentence. There has never been a president in my memory who is worse at reading prepared statements. Some, like Barack Obama, were masters at calming the nation. Even the amiable dunce George W. Bush was better. When reading prepared speeches, Trump sounds like a man who barely knows how to read, which may be true.
It’s a heck of a world we live in right now, isn’t it? Crashed economies, disease running rampant, and the most important democracy in the world collapsing upon itself.
So-o-o- … anybody see anything good on TV?
As the chaos in the U.S. spreads, the various law enforcement agencies are hauling out the heavy artillery. I think this is a huge mistake.
The scene from every city in the U.S. features a line of faceless, heavily armoured cops in a line (or, more recently, wading in the a crowd, clubs a’ swingin’). This may be counterintuitive, but I think the cops and the national guard should be much more lightly armed.
Look at the cops. Do they look like human beings, or Robocops? Nothing embodies the great, big, evil state more than a faceless cop. I’ve seen many images of protesters screaming into the faces of the cops. Any why not? Behind a helmet and a shield and a gas mask, it’s easy to forget that you’re talking to a human being. It’s also easy for troublemakers to assume that the armoured cops can’t be hurt, so they’re fair game.
From the cops point of view, who can blame them if they feel like cracking skulls? Just like a helmeted football player, if you are dressed for battle, and feel invulnerable, then you are much more likely to wade into a crowd. Check out this clip of Atlanta cops swarming a black couple in a car. Check out how they are dressed, and how many there are. (Also notice a white girl happily driving past, waving at the camera.)
Putting a human face on cops works. Check out this video, of New York cops taking a knee in solidarity with protesters, to cheers and handshakes. That doesn’t happen with a Robocop.
At some point, this madness with peter out. Until the next time, when the heavy artillery will be brought out of storage, and this whole sorry scene will repeat itself.