I try to keep my own opinions as far away from myself as possible – not to hide from them but in order to laugh at them – yet like everyone else I get caught up from time to time. I got caught up a few days ago by some guy who delivered a speech outside Michigan’s State Capitol, because I found it strange that I more or less agree with him. I think it’s worthwhile to briefly examine our points of agreement – and our points of contention. Somewhere in that space there might be a hint of the politics to come.
I don’t know who he is or where he’s from, or whether or not he’s affiliated with any groups. I only know that he was protesting outside Michigan’s State Capitol:
BLM, Antifa, Boogaloo, and right-wing militias – they are the antibodies, not the disease that is destroying our country. The disease is a country that is run by two corrupt political parties that do not care about you. So deeply [???] with corporations that they’re indistinguishable from each other. A government that spent six months debating whether to give their people six hundred dollars, but only twenty-four hours to unanimously agree to give billions of dollars to foreign tyrannical governments and corporations. A government that has bombed villages overseas my entire life for my supposed safety here. This is a call for unity, for all the American people that realize the true threat against us to come together. For every mother mourning her children that was killed by police, for every business crushed by state lockdowns, for every broken soldier sent to fight wars that have no point. This is our last chance to avoid either a tyrannical government or a bloody and pointless civil war among American people who do not have that much against each other and have more in common than they realize. And a message to the government: we come in peace, we do not intend to commit violence, but I am pleading with you with tears in my eyes, cracks in my voice, if you continue to oppress the American people they will remain rational no longer. Thank you.
First, he’s no Jefferson
Not even a poor man’s Emerson. But his complete lack of eloquence doesn’t disqualify him from the public square. To be American is, after all, to profess endless faith in one’s own stupidity. Let’s not selectively disregard or censor people, citing arbitrarily the only trait that truly unifies us.
Second, this isn’t Hate Speech
He’s got the beard, the clothes, the gun – but not the hate. You might disagree with him, you might call him naive, you might be suspicious of his secret motivation – but evidence of hatred is not forthcoming. If you doubt this, check again. I transcribed it for you.
Third, it’s called Dissent
And dissent, for some strange reason, has never been very popular. Right now, as the establishment revenges itself on the Capitol’s marauders, it’s more important than ever that we distinguish dissent from criminality and protect it.
Now for the Points of Agreement
. . . two corrupt political parties that do not care about you. So deeply [???] with corporations that they’re indistinguishable from each other.
While this is a truism that’s more likely to roll eyes than inspire action, I join millions in naive solidarity and validate it. I’m also alienated from both of America’s major political parties, perhaps irrevocably. I was born to despise conservatism, and liberalism in America has become a farce. Joe Biden would be considered an arch-conservative in every other developed nation in the world.
The word is not liberalism, but neoliberalism.
A government that spent six months debating whether to give their people six hundred dollars, but only twenty-four hours to unanimously agree to give billions of dollars to foreign tyrannical governments and corporations. A government that has bombed villages overseas my entire life for my supposed safety here.
This is straightforwardly true. Congress has been very reluctant to give the people a taste of what banks and corporations have been feasting on for years: socialism. Not only that, but socialism in the form of raw capital. Perhaps our leaders fear that we might be less susceptible to neoliberal propaganda once we have the contrary evidence in our pockets. We might realize that the scarcity of resources has been grossly exaggerated, and our poverty has been artificially perpetuated by ideologues.
As for the second part of the sentiment, the part about destruction and mass murder and other bad things that America is good at . . . well who would deny that except for a politician?
And perhaps this is a good place to point out that America has been overthrowing liberal democratic governments and installing fascists around the globe for over half a century. If those TRUMP clowns had somehow succeeded in their coup at the Capitol, it would have been one of the worst days in American history – but there would have been a kind of global justice in it.
. . . American people who do not have that much against each other and have more in common than they realize.
The crux and the rub. We’re tempted again to call it a truism, all dressed up and playing at revolution, but in the context of his speech and the times through which we’re stumbling, it isn’t overly generous to interpret him in this way:
- The current unrest in this country has no clearly defined politics.
- The riotous left and the seditious right are both made up of regular, pissed off, misinformed, over-saturated, and often broken people.
- Perhaps their anger shares a root, which has sprouted several trees of the same genus but with different leaves.
- We should target the roots and not the leaves.
A forceful objection from the democrats: The storming of the Capitol cannot be compared with incidental looting caused by BLM protests, nor do their causes have anything in common. The TRUMP people are clearly untouchable and insane, while the BLM people are fighting for a historically good and morally unimpeachable cause.
To make this objection is to be misinformed, and then to miss the point. The BLM protestors have in fact done a great deal of damage around the country, much of it in the name of George Floyd and under the assumption that there is an epidemic of racist-cop-murder ripping through America. This assumption has no merit. While BLM rioting might have genuine ulterior justifications, there is no evidence to support the stated one. It turns out that cops kill (and protect) people rather indiscriminately. There are plenty of videos of white guys getting murdered by cops; we just don’t play those videos on an endless loop across our national media networks. If you would like to witness such a murder, here is the disturbing video of the death of Daniel Shaver, graphic and uncensored:
There are many other such videos, though perhaps none are quite so harrowing. And in case you’re wondering, the cop who shot him was punished with early retirement and a generous pension.
Is there racial inequality in America? Yes. Is it exhausting and infuriating that in spite of all our advancements we can’t seem to overcome the color of flesh? Yes. Can city cops fix this problem for us? No.
Just like the seditious TRUMP clowns, the BLM rioters have misdirected their rage. They are leaves blowing in the wind.
Here’s a dirty little secret about human nature: when someone has nothing left to lose they’re as likely to join the KKK as they are to convert to Islam. It’s all a matter of which train comes through town first. The question is: why do so many people currently feel that they have nothing to lose?
Answer that question, and maybe you’ll find some roots.
if you continue to oppress the American people they will remain rational no longer. Thank you.
Finally, a prophet with good manners!
And the Points of Contention
BLM, Antifa, Boogaloo, and right-wing militias – they are the antibodies, not the disease that is destroying our country.
If epidemiology must be our metaphor, these groups resemble cancer more than they resemble antibodies. It’s a ‘deserved’ cancer in that we’ve been chainsmoking for fifty years and our lungs are now revolting, but it’s nevertheless a cancer. Revolutionary groups are not healers but destroyers. The healing is performed by others, usually by those who most despise revolutions.
For every mother mourning her children that was killed by police, for every business crushed by state lockdowns, for every broken soldier sent to fight wars that have no point.
For every this, for every that, A pair of tits, and no more tats!
Hold the Pathos, please; I’m on a Logos diet. And even if I was capable of being swayed by such emotional appeals, I would find it off-putting to see failing businesses sandwiched between murdered children and broken soldiers. Even if its inclusion can be successfully argued, an emotional appeal is meant to subvert arguments. Business has no business on this list.
The funny thing is: this part of his statement is probably the most likely to persuade people, precisely because it is the most useless thing he’s said.
And a message to the government: we come in peace, we do not intend to commit violence, but I am pleading with you with tears in my eyes, cracks in my voice . . .
First, it’s bad form to say ‘I have a message for the government’. Just go ahead and leave that part unsaid. Second, it’s redundant to say ‘we come in peace’ and ‘we do not intend to commit violence’. Third, ‘tears in my eyes, cracks in my voice’ is too sentimental and oddly self-deprecating.
Had he an editor, his statement might have ended more like this:
We come here peacefully but with a warning: if the American government continues to oppress its people, those people will soon forget how to be rational.
I know nothing about the person who said these things. He might be a godawful bastard who kicks his dog and beats his wife and spends all of his time with Q-Anon. Or he might be a total sweetheart who has been overwhelmed by our All-American absurdity and feels morally obligated to do something-he-knows-not-what. So instead of judging the person I listened to the words; and I found that I agreed with much that was said.
It’s a bizarre-o timeline and we should not expect each other to make perfect sense. I submit this over-analysis as evidence that we can nevertheless understand one another – sort of.
People’s Party, anyone?