The first article of this series’ main point was that the unjust and murderous actions of officers such as Daniel Pantaleo and Darren Wilson are not aberrations but in fact a logical outgrowth of, entirely consistent with, inspired by, and necessary corollaries to, US governmental policies, both here and abroad.
Consider the rationale for the so-called “war on terror” and the invasions and occupations of numerous countries, such as Iraq and Afghanistan. The White House, through both the US military and various agencies such as the CIA and NSA, during the Bush years and the Obama years, has been and is still: carrying out torture, including of entirely innocent individuals (e.g., by forced feedings of hunger striking prisoners), indefinite and preventive detention (e.g., Guantanamo, Bagram and other secret locations – aka “black sites”) where due process and the right to have your day in court have been explicitly suspended indefinitely, using anti-personnel weapons such as degraded radioactive warheads, cluster bombs, and free fire zones on densely populated civilian neighborhoods resulting not only in mass dislocations, deaths, and dismemberments but extraordinary increases in horrible birth defects, drone assassinations of thousands of overwhelmingly innocent “collateral” victims including hundreds of children, and massive surveillance upon whole countries.
All of these acts have been and are being carried out under the official rationale of “protecting American lives” by torturing and killing very large numbers of people. Well over a million Iraqis alone have died since our unjust and illegal invasion of their country based on a lie.
The immoral calculus for these actions? If it’s to save American lives, then anything is justified, even massive crimes routinely committed against innocents. The ends apparently justify the means.
It was inevitable that foreign policies such as these should migrate home and be reflected in a siege mentality domestically. The beginnings of this were the USA Patriot Act, but that unconstitutional wonder has been followed by a parade of even more egregious legislation, including the National Defense Authorization Act, and extra-legal actions such as the NSA’s spying on literally everyone and suspending nuisances such as the Fourth Amendment. Mass murder incidents also involve loners copying what they see authorities doing (e.g., James Holmes, Adam Lanza, Elliott Rodger…) or who are acting in exactly the fashion they have been trained to do (e.g., Sgt. Robert Bales).
As the government under both Republican and Democratic White Houses and Congressional majorities demonize others, such as Muslims, and those who dare to dissent, including the official labeling of civil liberties such as freedom of speech and assembly as “low-level terrorism,” it is only logical and inevitable that the scope of those being demonized should broaden to include anyone who looks or thinks differently. After all, if the country and its “way of life” are under siege from “outsiders,” the logic of that perspective only runs one way, just like the infamous witch hunts of the McCarthy era and the earlier war by the Church on religious heresies – broader and broader numbers of swept up into the ranks of the spreading “evil.”
Here is where, in a dovetailing with the “war on drugs” campaigns and the history and ongoing existence of racism and sexism, black and brown people and women are now part of the enemy.
What “Stop and Frisk” and the militarization of the police and other agencies of the US government do, due in part to the War on Drugs and in part to the “War on Terror,” is step-by-step implement the equivalent of the early stages of ethnic cleansing. Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Ramarley Graham, Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, etc., etc., etc. are only the best known of this parade of victims of police or vigilante homicides. There are literally millions of others who are being held in mass incarceration, many of them subjected to what international groups rightly describe as conditions of torture.
In the first of this series I stated
[T]he forces insisting that order is under siege and that repression and extralegal measures are necessary to cope with that disorder are the same forces creating disorder in the society by dispossessing increasing ranks of the people, endangering the planet’s biosystem, and provoking greater and greater levels of social insecurity.
Neoliberal regimes’ ever-growing inequities produce dissension and dissatisfaction, not because the disaffected elect to feel disaffection—although the already privileged tend to see it that way, as if there is bounty for all if everyone would simply put their noses to the grindstone, there being no structural logic to the dispossession of so many for the wealth of the few. Rather, the disadvantaged’s status brings them into conflict with those that the system favors. The position of the disadvantaged is what makes them criminal, dangerous, and potential terrorists. (Globalization and the Demolition of Society, p. 154)
Let me repeat the last line above: “The position of the disadvantaged is what makes them criminal, dangerous, and potential terrorists.” It is not what people do, in other words, that makes them “criminal, dangerous, and potential terrorists;” it is the mere fact of their physical existence that makes them this in the eyes of authority.
I am not just being dramatic here: it is due to the actual workings and guiding logic of the system of globalized capitalism – capitalist-imperialism – that produces this widening gulf between the tiny fraction of the obscenely wealthy and the rest of the population, hitting hardest the most dispossessed who suffer the most from the instability and vulnerability that capitalist logic produces: the more unstable and vulnerable the people are, the more corporations and governments can exploit us and derive more profit and more power. The more ruthlessly they dispossess and destroy the fabric of social bonds and nature, the more they gain.
That is how this system works and that is why Daniel Pantaleo and Darren Wilson, despite being obviously stone cold racists and murderers, were not indicted by this system. To indict them would be to indict this system as a whole, beginning with its highest political leaders and CEOs on down to their thin blue line protecting them from the people’s outrage at the unfairness, unjustness, unsustainability, and immorality of it all.
This is Part 2 of a series. The first installment was entitled “The Affinity Between Daniel Pantaleo, Darren Wilson, and US Foreign and Domestic Policy.”
Dennis Loo is on the World Can’t Wait’s Steering Committee. This article first appeared at his website DennisLoo.com on December 7, 2014. His book Globalization and the Demolition of Society will be available in paperback in time for Xmas 2014.