Hostile America

Paranoia Just Might Destroy Ya

First Ferguson, then New York. There are statistics for everything, right? So, about how many crimes are committed or attempted every day, speaking mainly of the petty variety? Probably a great many. If they all resulted in a death, how many deaths would they amount to? Probably more than anyone would regard as acceptable. What has to be proven to the television viewer, since the entire American-Shakespearean drama is being played out on the tube, is that these events range from rare to highly exceptional. They are anomalies. But to come clean, the actual number would be diminished by a vast amount of cover-ups. Blaming the police, or incompetent policing, will not do. One must also take into account who they work for, what motivates them, and the few elite with whom they dare not argue. It is logical, knowing human nature, to assume that some of their roughhouse tactics are in some part designed to please. But who? Not me. Likely as not, not you. The unfortunate catch-all is that it is wrong from every standpoint when a fatality occurs, especially when the means to avert so undesirable a consequence are readily available. To look at the problem in this fashion is to get more toward the crux of the matter.

Thinking this through without any research beforehand, however, is a great mental exercise that may or may not be applicable. Thinking too much about the fragility and unpredictability of the mean streets is just plain paranoiac. I have already made my peace with the advanced changes wrought over the past decade. There are more metal detectors and surveillance devices than ever before. So be it. The amount of effort and intensity, however, I put in to not breaking laws, causing disturbances, or overstimulating the flighty imaginations of my fellow, jumpy citizen probably makes me resemble Public Enemy Number One -- I'm thinking. Maybe it is not full-fledged paranoia, only a sense of superfluousness. After all, as these and probably many more unseen clips indicate, virtually anyone can be eliminated without much brouhaha, and that's that. No one has the attention span to follow up on the entire aftermath, which becomes like so much cosmic debris in the wake of a fleeting and oh-so-minor celestial event.

Death Row

An old historic cellblock in Philadelphia.  At least the building is colorblind.
An old historic cellblock in Philadelphia. At least the building is colorblind. | Source

White and Black

This is probably not my fight and I would be well-advised to stay out. But I have nothing else to write about at present. For some time now, the disproportionate amount of Blacks in prison has been remarked upon in an accusative fashion. Usually, the discussion, if the relevant percentages actually stimulate rational talk, goes virtually nowhere. Outside of venting -- zip. Plenty of Whites are behind bars, too. But more to the point is the unusual class or sub-class of men and women who transcend the law with impunity. To get even more specific, leaving aside for the moment corporate crime, why not zero in on bloodless white collar crime? The dangerous streets of the nation's cities and so-called bad neighborhoods are rife with gunplay and situations that get out of control extremely fast. In other words, violence seems inevitable. To ask that it be controlled is unreasonable. It is already by definition out of control. On the other side of the tracks, knock on doors in beautiful neighborhoods, picture perfect. For a certainty, you will encounter a rash of people with very similar stories of relatives, friends, and professionals, predominantly White, who have glommed onto their money. That is to say, not being a criminologist, crime is a rather large subject, not at all impertinent to the many shadows that occlude the American landscape.

As to its color component, this is a major factor, though hardly the whole story. Blacks are more forthcoming when it comes to "outing" White oppressors. They are not shy about naming names. But Whites are also oppressed by other Whites. More often than not, they choose not to broadcast as much. Blacks, too, just to be realistic, can be oppressive. More importantly, it is hard to say if Blacks are gaining in terms of ordinary privileges, such as being treated fairly in all circumstances. At the same time, blatantly biased White-Only privileges seem on the wane, compared to what once obtained. Whose country is this anyway? More likely than not, it will shift about this way and that as more and more multi-colored power players learn the tricks of the trade.

Death and (Cigarette) Taxes

Does the Eric Garner case represent a watershed in terms of news reported crime-fighting.

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What Does It Look Like?

Yeah, we know the syllogism that goes as follows: if it quacks like a duck, etc. But when violent events are reported, perception comes into play. Perception is partly physical, partly psychological. Maybe it's a duck, maybe not. Can an i-phone camera app actually convey God's unassailable truth? Can so much in the way of chanting, picketing, marching, and, so to speak, foaming at the mouth, substitute for or equal a truth, that has not, possibly never will be, completely established? These are questions I ask myself only because many crime-ridden news events are visceral, capture one's attention, and urge the quick formation of an opinion that may or may not be correct.

Sometimes there's a good reason, but . . . .

1930s confrontation during a San Francisco strike.
1930s confrontation during a San Francisco strike. | Source

sometimes not.

Police-civilian confrontations are nothing new. Here is a case in point. Above, the police act on behalf of a company. Strikers are treated as riffraff. One has to admit, a club is bad enough, but a well-armed loose cannon can be far worse. Nonetheless, one also has to admit that there always comes a time when a policeman is wanted more than anyone. It would be nice if we could police ourselves, but that will never happen.

The Event

Street Fighting Man?

Recent protests made for some sensational cinematography and photographs. Just about everything that could have been done, which includes looting and vandalism, has been accomplished. The next step presents various options, none of which will prevail. An incremental advance in terms of effrontery, perhaps involving bolder and bolder degrees of breaking the law, will only bring about a harsher response. In other words, more disaster. It is interesting, nonetheless, to imagine what could happen. The fact that we will not become like the Balkans, as was the rather intriguing premiss of a politically-charged book not so very long ago, is more than reassuring. It is really, in the final analysis, up to the younger element and how they might want to re-shape America's future. Few over forty, maybe thirty, want to take to the streets. There is always going to be trouble of one sort or another. It was fun in the sixties to talk about insurrection. It was all in our dreams. This spate of recent publicized challenges are getting a great deal of attention. We shall see what changes, if any, they affect.

Music for Thought

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