…This is the same narrative we always hear from the authorities. First, we must submit to their control; then they will address our concerns. All the problems we face, they insist, are caused by our refusal to cooperate. This argument sounds most persuasive when it is dressed up in the rhetoric of democracy: those are “our” laws we should shut up and obey—“our” cops who are shooting and gassing us—“our” politicians and leaders begging us to return to business as usual. But to return to business as usual is to step daintily over the bodies of countless Michael Browns, consigning them to the cemetery and oblivion.
The people in charge of a large American community are systematically shredding the United States Constitution tonight. It is nothing less than a police coup.
The Bill of Rights guarantees that all citizens have the right to assemble peacefully. And yet residents of Ferguson who gathered to protest under the bright August sun were met with a mid-sized Army of militarized cops, ordered off the public right-of-way, and ordered to go home, under the glare of a rifle mounted on a tripod. In a move that even George Orwell would not have believed, cops with loudspeakers insisted to the crowd, “You have the right to peacefully assemble - from 25 feet away.”
The Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of speech — but over these successive nights citizens who’ve tried to speak out of have had tear gas fired at them (in at least one case at a private citizen on his own lawn), then rubber bullets, as well as wooden pellets fired from guns.
The Bill of Rights protects the right of a free press — but apparently not in Ferguson, Mo., not tonight. Reporters from the Huffington Post and the Washington Post were arrested by cops inside a McDonald’s (!) as they were trying to file their reports; the Post’s Wesley Lowery, an African-American, was slammed into a soda fountain. They were eventually released (one small step for mankind) and when Lowery was asked, is he was more scared of the protesters or the cops, he answered: “Easy answer, i’m a black man – the police.” Other reporters, including two who happened to be black, said they were denied access to a news conference. Trymaine Lee, the former Daily News intern who went on to become a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, said on Twitter: “I’ve been told to disperse and go to my residence…”
America’s political traditions insist that the public has a right to know what its government is doing. This, too, has been ripped into a thousand pieces in Ferguson, Mo. The name of the officer who shot Mike Brown has been shielded from the public, and so have most basic facts of what occurred last weekend. A report from the medical examiner was censored to keep the public from even knowing how many times Brown was shot. What is Ferguson covering up?
O ME! O life!… of the questions of these recurring;
Of the endless trains of the faithless—of cities fill’d with the foolish;
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light—of the objects mean—of the struggle ever renew’d;
Of the poor results of all—of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me;
Of the empty and useless years of the rest—with the rest me intertwined;
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here—that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.
The absurdity runs deep: America is using American military equipment to bomb other pieces of American military equipment halfway around the world. The reason the American military equipment got there in the first place was because, in 2003, the US had to use its military to rebuild the Iraqi army, which it just finished destroying with the American military. The American weapons the US gave the Iraqi army totally failed at making Iraq secure and have become tools of terror used by an offshoot of al-Qaeda to terrorize the Iraqis that the US supposedly liberated a decade ago. And so now the US has to use American weaponry to destroy the American weaponry it gave Iraqis to make Iraqis safer, in order to make Iraqis safer.
It’s not just ironic; it’s a symbol of how disastrous the last 15 years of US Iraq policy have been, how circuitous and self-perpetuating the violence, that we are now bombing our own guns. Welcome to American grand strategy in the Middle East.
United Nations officials described the killing of sleeping children as a disgrace to the world and accused Israel of a serious violation of international law after a school in Gaza being used to shelter Palestinian families was shelled on Wednesday.