- (We) have … been programmed into cruelty and apathy by (our) schools, churches, families, politics, and pop culture(.)
- Institutional racism. Rampant income inequality. A broken justice system. America may never be a great society.
- Torture Is Who We Are
Monday, Dec 29, 2014 | It seems police can get away with anything: choking men who have surrendered; shooting unarmed teens; knocking pregnant women to the ground. While the issues involving race, civil rights and the relationship between law enforcement and communities are essential for examination and correction, few are talking about how all of this fits into the larger pattern of America’s cultural decline and decay. America has become a society addicted to violence and indifferent to the suffering of people without power. Whenever there is a combination of a culture of violence and an ethic of heartlessness, fatal abuse of authority will escalate, and the legal system will fail to address it.
Critics are right to condemn the criminal justice system for its embedded inequities and injustices, but they are hesitant to condemn the actual jurors giving killer cops get-out-of-jail-free cards. These jurors are representational of America: ignorant and cold. They hear testimony from eyewitnesses claiming Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown while he had his hands in the air, and set Wilson free without trial. They listen to reports of three officers choking Robert Saylor, an unarmed man with Down syndrome who wanted to see a movie without a ticket, and they send the police back to work. They watch video footage of police choking Eric Garner in New York, and of two police officers brutally beating Keyarika Diggles, a woman in Texas, and they decline to make them pay for it.
David Masciotra is the author of Mellencamp: American Troubadour (forthcoming, University Press of Kentucky). He writes regularly for the Daily Beast and Splice Today.
A country, like a person, is what it does.