Millions are shocked because they don’t understand the history of the nation they call home. Millions are shocked because they believe the nation is a good place. Millions are shocked until they are no longer shocked because the commonplace nature of these and other human rights abuses desensitizes them to the brutal nature of these acts and the system that requires them.T
by RON JACOBS Counterpunch November 29, 2018
Photo Source Newtown grafitti | CC BY 2.0
The madness around us is no accident. Donald Trump is not an anomaly, but he is the worst of what this nation has to offer. Intentional ignorance fuels his hatred and money fuels his bloated and undeserved ego. We live in a nation ruled by small minded and heartless men and women whose egos match their ill begotten bank accounts. Their perception of justice is that which serves the market and the market is only viable as far as it serves their paymasters.
Men and women with no place to live idle away their days in libraries and doorways, their hope for a different future slowly fading into their lives of despair. Work for any gain like a place they can afford to rent or even a car to live in grows more distant with each ordinance passed against the state of being poor. Police in their obeisance to the state and the class it serves enforce these ordinances with nary a pang of conscience. Or, even worse, a conscience that demands they beat the poor and obey the wealthy.
Meanwhile, the wealthy spread their gospel of prosperity as if they actually believe the lies they tell themselves. Angry and ultimately misanthropic citizens accept the rich people’s lies hoping that their deliverance will soon arrive. Maybe if they believe the gospel of wealth they will become wealthy. It’s the myth upon which US capitalism is built. P.T. Barnum put it more succinctly when he spoke about suckers being born every minute.
The work I do demands interaction with homeless, often desperate people. Like me when I was on the streets, these men and women know the location of every restroom open to the public, the hours of the library and the rules they need to follow to stay in the building. This information is especially important on days the weather makes being outside uncomfortable if not downright dangerous.
Those economically better off either choose to ignore the poor among them or turn to charitable acts; acts which are usually motivated by a belief one should care for their fellow human, but not enough to destroy the system that makes them poor and others rich. The very essence of a system that insists on inequality demands some kind of allegiance after all.
Then there are those whose very person is composed of a hate so vile they need nothing else to sustain themselves. They pine for the days when their hate was the law and not just the spirit in some parts of the nation. From where I sit, this describes the very nature of the current occupant of the White House and most of the members of his party. A policy honed over a history of slaughter and present in virtually every intervention by the US military is once again becoming commonplace on US soil and at its borders.
I say once again because there are millions of US residents who are shocked when border police fire tear gas at women and children; when cops kill unarmed (most Black) citizens and get away with it; when protesters are sprayed in the face with pepper spray in front of the news media; when people trying to feed hungry people without homes are arrested for trying to feed hungry people without homes.
Millions are shocked because they don’t understand the history of the nation they call home. Millions are shocked because they believe the nation is a good place. Millions are shocked until they are no longer shocked because the commonplace nature of these and other human rights abuses desensitizes them to the brutal nature of these acts and the system that requires them.
Drone strikes, once considered to be some kind of humane warfare (perhaps because it was Barack Obama who turned to them as his primary means of killing), are now barely discussed in the media. This is despite the fact that they have actually increased under Donald Trump. US wars of aggression have also continued, with civilian deaths increasing in Afghanistan and elsewhere. That increase is present even when using the Pentagon rubric which essentially labels any male ten years and older as a combatant, much like any Black male over ten in the US is considered by police to be the domestic equivalent of a combatant.
On the southern US border military and police forces combine their numbers to deny refugees their internationally protected right to asylum. Certain media outlets champion this violation of international law and cheer the use of tear gas on the refugees. Many politicians proclaim their shock at the brutality against refugees while they continue to defend the ongoing US military operations around the world—operations which violate international law as a matter of policy.
The Trumpist reign has once again shown the world what the US really is. It has also created a certain chaos that proves how fragile the world capitalist system is. Both of these might be construed as positive phenomena. What matters it what is done with this knowledge. Overturning the neoliberal capitalist world order should be a good thing. However, capitalists have proven over and over again that they will do whatever it takes to keep the capitalist system going.
War, genocide, mass incarceration, Hitler and Mussolini—anything to keep it going. The current chaos serves them well. Donald Trump isn’t Hitler, but he doesn’t need to be. The Trumpist approach has already proven to be effective in its reordering of the capitalist world towards its most reactionary factions.
The recent elections proved at least two things. The first is that there are enough people living in the United States who want to see its policies of greed and brutality changed. The second is that voting to change those policies is not a very effective means of doing so. The fact that elections can be manipulated by the ruling party if it so desires is just one reason why. I fear that come 2019, we will also discover once again that changing the faces of the members of Congress is not enough to change the influence of money, the military, and the lure of power. Those members old and new who do not go along with the ongoing transfer of wealth to the richest families in the nation will be silenced no matter how much noise they make.
Indeed, unless the public engages in popular, loud and relentless protest, those few elected officials who care what their constituents want will be irrelevant. The rest will feel they have to answer only to those who pay their way. As the more cynical among us knows, even if that protest is popular and relentless, nothing may change for the better. This fact is no reason not to protest, however. It is instead, reason to consider something more than trying to fix a system that by its nature requires the abuses listed here and worse to continue. It also requires the silence of those who are uneasy with what they are watching. Indeed, it requires that silence at least as much as it requires the support of those who point their fear and hatred towards those whom the rulers have scapegoated. It’s past time for hope.
It’s time for struggle.
Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. His latest offering is a pamphlet titled “Capitalism: Is the Problem.” He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. More articles by:RON JACOBS