Monday, September 29, 2014

The US campaign to defeat dictators and other brutal regimes.

The war against ISIS is gathering force in Iraq and inside Syria. Once again our government has mounted its white steed and is riding into the fray to battle for civilization and human rights.
Since the end of the Cold War we have become militant proponents of democracy. Wherever you look our president, whoever that happens to be at the moment, is the vigorously denouncing the brutality of various dictators. We went to war to topple Saddam Hussein. We went to war against Qaddafi in Libya; we are now engaged and have been in trying to topple al-Assad in Syria. The campaign against ISIS is presented to us as a campaign against brutal militants. In each case we are fighting cruelty, inhumanity. We present ourselves to ourselves and to the world as the champions of nonviolent political institutions, of democracy where everybody has equal legal rights and equal protections. We are pure, when compared to all these dictators.
Sad to say that this propaganda. The events in Ferguson have brought to the fore the constant and uninterrupted brutalization of communities of color and the outright war of police against young men of color and, more generally, against all young men. An article in the Tampa Bay Times a few weeks ago asserted that "every 28 hours an unarmed black person is shot by a cop." A Los Angeles website, Laist reports the research done by the Los Angeles Youth Justice Coalition.”They found that police killed 589 people in the line of duty between January 1, 2000 and August 31, 2014. That's about 43 people each year or one person every eight days.” The majority of them were young black men.
One in three black men is imprisoned in the course of their life. According to some figures, about half of black men are under supervision of parole authorities. With a sharp increase of persons imprisoned, state governments have farmed out prisons to private companies. They manage to turn a profit by keeping prisoners under utterly inhumane conditions. Often lights, toilets,water do not function. Sick prisoners have no access to health care. Prison guards fail to protect prisoners against the assaults by others.
Once again men of color are the prime victims.
These are terrible facts. If we added up all the young black men brutalized by police and by the prison system we might well find that our government is as brutal as the dictators we have opposed in the last 10 or so years.
But the precise numbers are not important. What matters is that we are systematically being fed a view of the world designed to conceal the enormous failures of our so-called democratic system. According to the official story, the US is the country that is democratic at home, where all are equal, and we come to the aid of many abroad. A columnist for the Boston Globe, Stephen Kinzer, observed recently that American media are fascinated with World War II stories because our role in that war was decent. The many other wars in which we took the side of dictators for the sake of procuring raw materials for our corporations do not yield plots for movies, tv series or fodder for pundits. They have been forgotten.
Day in day out our attention is drawn to the brutalities of other dictators or other governments. It takes the month-long demonstrations not only in this country but all around the world in response to the killing of Michael Brown, to lift a corner of the shroud that covers the murderous activities of our own police forces, and of the federal government that supports those police forces with more lethal weapons and equipment.
The good news is that more and more Americans are waking up to this gross malfunction of our government spite of all the propaganda. This morning's paper reports an opinion poll in which almost 2/3 of persons asked allowed as how black people do not receive just treatment from our judicial system. The truth is slowly leaking out.
But before we, the citizens, and the government take actions, nothing will change.