Change is in the air–on the TV, the web, your town and around the world. That’s what this post is about. We will will get there shortly. Black Lives Matter.
November 3rd is less than five months away. The current poll numbers show Trump losing the election to Biden in a big way. Neither Mueller nor impeachment could put him away. COVID-19 and now Derek Chauvin, George Floyd’s killer are bringing him down. Well, actually, it’s his own ineptitude—his own incompetent impulses to crises way over his capacity.
That’s a discussion for another post. Today is about the changing times. To the rapidly evolving response, finally, to one more killing of an unarmed Black man. But first a brief explanation of a style change at Views.
Hereinafter, Trump shall be known here as “Biff.” Biff was Marty McFly’s primary antagonist in the Back to the Future movie trilogy. Search your recollection or the web for the physical resemblance. What urges the change are the character traits. Traits they share, like being a bully, dumb and good for nothing.
Biff’s tweets are typically false, insulting, vulgar, and sometimes libelous. We will call them Drumpf Droppings. (Biff’s grandfather Friedrich Drumpf, changed his name sometime after coming to America). Droppings are what birds leave everywhere. Drumpf Droppings extend the analogy—befouling America with their filth.
We’ll talk more about Biff’s declining election prospects another day. Today it’s all about what’s happening in America’s racial attitudes.
The Times They Are a-Changin,’ was a Bob Dylan album from 1964. There were indeed lots of changes in the sixties. Among them, a variety of laws were passed protecting the civil rights of African-Americans. Laws tell people what they should and shouldn’t do. They provide punishment for infractions. What laws don’t do is change people’s attitudes. That takes time and some intervening events.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven. That’s how the beginning of a verse from Ecclesiastes goes. The reverend Al Sharpton cited the Bible passage at the first eulogy he gave for George Floyd. Pete Seeger wrote a song based on the entire passage. The Byrds version of the Seeger song was titled Turn! Turn! Turn!—an oft repeated refrain calling for change.
Change has been a long time coming.
Blacks have been killed in America since they arrived as slaves in 1619. They’ve been killed at the hands of police for nearly as long. Why is real reform on the table now? Was something special about George Floyd? Certainly special and loved by family and friends. Not the first unarmed Black man killed by a cop. Not the first on video either. What changed since Eric Garner’s death in New York City? What since events in Ferguson, Missouri?
Maybe it is the season. Maybe the time to turn.
Maybe the video of three cops in Minneapolis holding down George Floyd. A video that ran for nearly nine minutes. It documented Floyd and onlookers pleading with Derek Chauvin to stop. Instead, hands in pockets, Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck the entire time. As Floyd died, Chauvin kept looking about nonchalantly. An image seared in people’s minds. Even the minds of fellow cops across America. This was callous. This was wrong. This was murder, plain and simple.
Diverse groups of people young and old protested the death of George Floyd. Not just Black, but White, Asian, Hispanic and every other ethnic or racial minority were in those crowds. More joined across the country as they saw the smartphone videos on social media. Still more came out as they saw local, network, cable and international media.
As the protests against police brutality spread, the police helpfully demonstrated why reforms were needed. Police, in many cases, responded to peaceful protesters with batons, tear gas, pepper balls, rubber bullets and flash bangs.
Yes, there were those who destroyed property, set fires and looted. Terrible, terrible indeed. Yet, taken in their entirety, those smashed windows and items stolen fall a bit short of the lives lost by African-Americans over the last 400-years don’t you think? Since they were brought as slaves to America.
As officers were suspended and charged, their unions stood by them, indignant at their members being called to account for beating or killing unarmed people. For assaulting reporters, even while doing on air coverage. About 200 of them here and there.
The protests continued apace. After awhile, there were sheriffs, chiefs of police, mayors and even members of Congress marching with the protesters. Results coming in—reforms not just demanded but beginning everywhere.
This must be the season. It must be the time. The times are a-changin’ as states, localities and Congress are all taking up legislation or issuing orders for reforming. Confederate statues (mostly erected 40-50 years after the Civil War) coming down. Changing the names of US military bases named for Confederate officers. Attitudes ARE changing. See this survey as one example. Or try this one https://wtop.com/national/2020/06/poll-americans-support-george-floyd-protests-disapprove-of-trumps-response/.
But for Biff, it was time to call for law and order. His Drumpf Droppings said, “Dominate them!” The US military could take over if the governors weren’t up to it. Protesters everywhere were all domestic terrorists to Biff. You know how the photo op ended—the one where William Barr (he denied it) ordered Lafayette Park cleared of peaceful protesters.
Biff will be recalled for so many things—all of them documenting why he was the worst American President ever. The most recent—being on the wrong side of America’s racial history. He is the one who said at a rally some time ago, that police should stop being so gentle with suspects arrested. Not to worry about their heads hitting the roof of a car as they were put in the back seat.
Biff’s first rally in three months is planned a week from today. You know this already, don’t you? The date of the rally [UPDATED as planned was June 19; it’s now June 20] is celebrated among African-Americans as Juneteenth. On that day in 1865 at Galveston, Texas, the last slaves were freed at the end of the Civil War. The rally will be held in Tulsa, Oklahoma. More historical—and political significance, to Biff no doubt. It’s where the worst race riot in American history occurred. No, it wasn’t Blacks rioting. It was Whites massacring hundreds of African-Americans. On May 31 and June 1, 1921, They destroyed the Greenwood Business District–known as the “Black Wall Street.”
The mantra, think globally, act locally applies. Pay attention to what’s going on in your city, town or state. Vote for the people who will do the right thing. You know what to expect from the GOP officeholders running for reelection—especially those in the Senate. Be skeptical of any new candidates for any level of office.
Whatever you do, engage in dialogue with your fellow human beings–friends, family, neighbors and enemies. As Daisaku Ikeda says, [added June 13th]
Whatever our ethnicity, whatever our religion, we all have families we love; there is a future we all want to protect. And no human being can escape the eternal rhythms of life: birth, aging, sickness, death. When we are grounded in this most fundamental perspective of the commonality of our lives, we can rise above any differences and without fail achieve empathy and dialogue.
More to come on the election and on the pandemic. Watch this space.