The Big Picture: Middle school and high school history classes were weird. It was very interesting stuff they taught, and I loved the coursework. But none of it made sense. Over and over again, they told us tales that made no sense – – by themselves. How could it be, I wondered, that England and France would have a war that lasted for 30 years? How could there have been a “100 year war”? No one would have tolerated that, (I thought), so those books must be wrong.
Turns out that they were right, just rushed to cram in facts. All we were getting was the ‘Cliffs Notes’ versions of history. Context was lacking because the system didn’t see the value of context. Kind of ironic, given that the whole point of studying history was to avoid making the same mistakes… but that’s the ‘Murican way of educating: “buy bulk and save”! No other criteria matters.
Le sigh. Luckily for me, in time I did get enough book-learnin’ in to understand the hidden patterns. So I was able to tease out the back stories, and history became less mysterious. It also helps comprehension, I suppose, seeing that we are once again failing utterly to learn any lessons from the past. We are right now blundering along. Such a pity.
For The Record: What do I mean? Well, these past few weeks the media has fallen over itself lamenting the nearly 20 years our soldiers have been mucking about in Afghanistan. As if it’s our “longest war ever”, as if ‘Murica gosh darn it just couldn’t help itself. As if, this wasn’t our practice going back decades. Don’t believe the hype. One need only look to Iraq, which we first invaded in 1991. That is… wait for it… a Thirty Years War! We are still there, we have chosen to tolerate it all this time, and we have no plans to depart. Suddenly, those Frenchies don’t look so odd anymore. And we are far from alone in these bad habits. The Brits have been fighting in Afghanistan, off and on, since 1839.
And truly it is our habit, our main way of being. Look at the Philippines – war broke out there in the 1880’s. With the exception of WWII when it was held by the Japanese, we have been fighting there continuously ever since. That’s well over 100 years now, with no end in sight. Oh sure, you might quibble because nowadays we call it “the war on drugs” and declare that we are taking out terrorists who grow bad plants. But ask any of the locals doing the fighting up in the hills, and they stake out the exact same revolutionary positions as their ancestors of the 1890’s. Speaking of the Japanese, notice anything about them? We still have military bases there, just as we do in Germany. Again, you might quibble that now we’re all happy allies and friends… I will simply note that it’s 9 decades since WWII ended. If we are such good buddies, why don’t we trust them enough to leave their front porch? This institutionalized violence has become so totally normalized and accepted that the media doesn’t even think to comment upon it.
Which brings us to the point of the essay, our war here at home. It has gone on without pause since the founding of the Republic. I’m talking now of the war our police are waging on the self-same citizens of the land, those who are not rich or light skinned. Britain, (and every nation since), went into Afghanistan to control the drugs grown there. We have in 20 years there vastly increased crop yields for the poppies that become heroin – – 26 times more land is under cultivation now than in 2001. Mission accomplished, indeed.
But here, in the ‘homeland’, the war is fought differently. In order to combat drugs, the big evil bogeyman “DRUGS”; damn near every cop sees crime on every corner. Got an air freshener in your car? You must be a criminal mastermind, you have to die. Selling loose cigarettes? Drug lord! No more breathing for you. Sleeping in your own apartment at night? Enjoy your no-knock warrant as we murder your girlfriend, you wanna-be Tony Montana.
We have a thirty-years-war going on right under our noses, you see. And it’s being fought largely by the same people. Most cops nowadays are ex-military. They were surely messed up by tours in Iraq, etc. where the locals really did want to kill them – – and would try every chance they got. It’s no wonder they see citizens as direct threats, instead of seeing them as the very people they are supposed to be serving and protecting. It’s no wonder they are so trigger happy, even after being taught de-escalation techniques. They do use those skills, somewhat, and that’s a good start. Unfortunately, they only seem to choose to do that with white people who are storming our Capitol building. “Oh, you’re here to murder the Vice President and members of the Congress? Well here let me literally hold the door open for you, white person! And yes, sure, let’s pose for selfies while we’re at it!!”
Hurt people hurt people. It’s high time we learned this lesson, and stopped producing wounded people in bulk. We need justice for George, and Breanna, and now Daunte. AND we need justice for the ones who will be along after us. Fewer wars will yield fewer warriors, and maybe we can break this cycle of misplaced violence. We will all be so much better off, if we can do this. It’s not going to be easy. But it can be done, and step one will be for you to demand our leaders stop waging endless wars in our name. You can do that, and you can do that today.
Your Musical Selection: Killing in the Name, by Rage Against the Machine. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWXazVhlyxQ
What they are saying:
“She was on the force longer than Daunte was alive. So I don’t know how you mistake one for the other. But let’s go back even further. Let’s say she actually thought it was a Taser. Let’s, in some freakish, strange, upside-down, Stranger Things world—let’s give her the benefit of the doubt. Why is she grabbing for that anyway? You’re out in suburban Minnesota. You’ll catch this man if you need to find him. There’s really nowhere to go. You got the license plates. The question is why did she feel the need to go for any weapon. For air fresheners? Why is that even the move? Regardless of what we think if it’s an accident or not, she shouldn’t have had her hand on anything, and you can see the look on the Black officer’s face afterwards in the bodycam. Like, “What the f**k are you doing?” I want to know what he thinks, without the protection of the blue line. So, no, I don’t believe her. I don’t think it was an accident.” https://slate.com/comments/news-and-politics/2021/04/minneapolis-police-shooting-daunte-wright-protest-goals.html
“I don’t want my country to be one where cops get to riot like they did at Lafayette Park or where cops get to blindly shoot into a home and kill the innocent occupants or assassinate a man even if he is accused of murder. I want my country to be the country they told me it was in elementary school.” https://news.yahoo.com/police-antifa-activist-likely-shot-141049945.html?