A Shithole Country

Let’s dispense with notions of race. Not as in “I don’t see color,” but as in “your color will not matter if I am a cop and holding a gun that I claim to’ve believed was a taser” and OOPS!

Can’t we just arrest these killers on the spot? Forget suspension with pay or firing them or forming a commission or building a case against the police unions. Let murderers be treated like murderers.

The slamming down and winking out of a Black man’s life is one damnation. The slow-walked consequences constitute a second damnation.

Everyone knows that if the murderer just down the road is acquitted not just one cheap-ass Dollar Store will burn, but all of Minneapolis.

Notions of race have changed. They are at once fluid and rigid. Italians used to be considered “colored,” Catholicism was outlawed. Jews, no matter their designated race, have never managed to get ahead of those who would hunt them down and exterminate them.

Exterminate is a word that intentionally calls to mind vermin, rats. And Jews. Don’t say “Jew” if you’re not Jewish. It too easily glides into insult. Listen to this or that white supremacist refer to 1/4 of the American populous as “the blacks.”

Why can’t we eradicate the haters? The bearded, insecure, gun-toting white men who by most counts seem hell-bent on destroying the America they claim to love? They carry illusion in one pocket, grievance in another, and make violent scapegoating their mission.

Let seditionists be tried for sedition! Charging an insurrectionist with trespass is a little like charging Rockwell Inc. with trespass when clouds of plutonium smoke from its bomb factory poisoned entire neighborhoods south of Denver.

But, the Colorado courts wondered, can the plaintiffs make out a case even for trespass when it’s so hard to quantify the harm? Even if the impossibility of quantifying the harm is because its magnitude is nearly unimaginable? (let me insert here that the half life of plutonium is 240,000 years and that a particle the size of the head of a pin, when breathed in, will kill).

But the residents near Rocky Flats knew. The ‘downwind scars’ from thyroid removal so prevalent as to earn that cute nickname, children dying of weird cancers, calves born deformed. It’s a little like how an entire zip code of Black people in Ohio knew they were descended from Thomas Jefferson for several generations in advance of DNA proof.

But I digress. One man yells, “This is the people’s house!” Then another. Then a chorus. I want to yell back, “And these are the people’s laws!”

Meanwhile, how is it possible that the biggest seditionist of them all is waltzing around, golfing, disrupting weddings, drinking Coke while calling for its boycott, and spouting the Big Lie, still?

Inversion of truth has a way of wearing people down. Tell me again why a Dollar Store should matter more than a Black man’s life? Tell me again why the tanks and armor and gas and shields and vests and guns and batons and more gas arrived in force instantly at a crowd protesting injustice but did not manage to show up at a full fledged riot at the Capitol. Or why the men who threatened to kidnap and kill the Governor of Michigan did not end up being convicted. Of anything.

We all remember Dylan Roof’s post-massacre cheeseburger or the near-high fives the police gave Kyle Rittenhouse.

The curfew is a catch-22 for Black people. Protest and you’ll be arrested NO MATTER HOW EGREGIOUS THE HARM you protest. So many catch-22’s for Black people and so many with lethal consequence. Stay in your car, you’ll be shot. Get out of your car, you’ll be shot.

All those who plea for Black obedience have not been paying attention. Half of the men on the Hill frame grievance along racial lines, with utter disregard for the facts, for the Constitution, for actual history. It’s truly sickening.

Vote Them Out, rings hollow when voting rights are being gutted. All those good guys swearing they’ll wait a hundred hours in line or those others saying they’ll risk arrest to bring water and pizza to voters, seem not to have read the part about the legislature now being empowered to overturn elections.

In other words, it doesn’t matter how many well-meaning allies show up with water or how many patriotic Black voters wait eons to exercise their constitutional right, the Georgia GOP can change the result. Poof! There goes Stacey Abrams’s strategy and hard work. The Republicans have enshrined into law what the Orange Menace tried to do in November with his pathetic election-tampering phone call.

They fired the guy who taped that illegal call, I don’t need to tell you.

Even with my pale and privleged ass, I’m really tired of this shit.

The through-line from slave patrollers to current policing is direct. They basically killed first, asked questions after.

There was so much extra-judicial killing of slaves in South Carolina that the Slave Code of 1740 tried to put in some limits. Imagine, even as the Assembly imposed one onerous restriction after another on the enslaved, they put the brakes on the slave patrollers. Why? Because they were costing the elite planters too much money, damaging their investments, etc.

An owner, of course, could kill one of his slaves for any reason at any time. Also, if a black person struck a white person, they would’ve been condemned to death, if not killed on the spot. But patrollers out for blood or maybe for bounties, had to be reigned in. The average healthy male African cost the equivalent of $18 to $26,000. The price of a very good used car.

White colonial governance pitted Natives against each other to help finish what small pox started. They also had no problem situating — there’s a word — various tribes further inland — west of the Edisto River, say — as long as said placements — there’s another word — didn’t occupy land where rice would grow. But wait! If a slave ran away, it was common for the aggrieved owner to hire a Native tracker to bring them back. No one knew the landscape better than the Natives! Here’s a musket!

But if not hiring a Chocktaw to find a runaway from Gambia, say, the fancy second sons from England and France might have captured a passel of the so-called red skins to sell as slaves to sugar planters in the West Indies. It didn’t pay to add them to the inventory — Natives were too adept at melting into the scrub to make them a sound investment.

But, keeping at least one Indian on register was considered good sense, since it was believed that mixing Native with African blood would produce offspring better able to withstand winters.

For no rational reason that I’ve ever come across, Natives on the auction blocks in Barbados or Antigua fetched lower prices than Black captives. Perhaps it had to do with how theories on race were gaining traction — solidifying — theories that said that the black-skinned were particularly suited to hard labor and that their owners did them enormous favors by offering them such opportunities, etc.

Because I’m not Black or Jewish or Asian, I cannot begin to imagine what it is to receive the hate and the threats that are such common currency in this country. But I AM tired of it all. Hypocrisy, the violence, the fake patriotism, molasses-paced consequences, the unraveling of truth as something that should matter.

Let me end with one piece of good news and a prayer.

The good news: Fani Willis did not pursue felony charges against the young legislator who knocked on the door and disrupted the meeting when Kemp and his cronies signed the voter suppression law.

The supplication: I pray that the Chauvin jury does the right thing. Please, please, convict the motherfucker. There’s been enough damage done.

* sorry I don’t have an attribution for the protest photo.

A really good ongoing critique of policing can be found here:

I recently learned about Rocky Flats by reading this really good memoir:

19 thoughts on “A Shithole Country

  1. Nancy

    Here witnessing and disgusted and more. Who I am does not show on the street, a sad fact that I appreciate more and more. It is too much, each day. Glad to know those (like you) on the same page – there is some relief in that, even if nothing changes.

    1. deemallon Post author

      As tired of it all as I am, I actually think that things MIgHt change for the better.

      What do you mean “who I am doesn’t show on the street”?

      1. Nancy

        That’s what J. says too, perhaps some change coming? Perhaps. Duante Wright’s killer – charged, so perhaps.
        I am Jewish, not known by looking, not skin color or eye shape or any easily seen trigger for hate…but it’s there, long and deep.

    1. deemallon Post author

      Tina, thank you for this recommendation. Recently switched off HBO but this looks worth resubscribing for.

      If this is a moment of reckoning in this country, and I believe it is, there is some chance we will come out the other side. I certainly haven’t given up hope. But then, I’m white.

  2. Marti

    I am beyond knowing how to respond, how to deal with the depth of sorrow, anger, anguish: As Liz noted, thank you Dee for putting words to this:

    Today in The Guardian, British newspaper, headline, “The World is Traumatized”… Families of George Floyd, Daunte Wright join together in grief”. AND we join them but it is not enough; this continues over and over, we have lost our humanity as well as any sense of justice if the verdicts are not what they should be; if Daunte’s killer is not prosecuted….IF, IF, IF…

    At first light of day, sitting outside, I thought of my young, idealistic self, some would say my naive self, who believed in what many would think is a simplistic notion of community and it is one I still hold to: As I sat, the lyrics from an old Youngbloods song, “Get Together” from 1967, came rolling into my head and as they did, I wept:

    “Come on people now
    Smile on your brother
    Everybody get together
    Try to love one another
    Right now

    If you hear the song I sing
    You will understand (listen!)
    You hold the key to love and fear
    All in your trembling hand
    Just one key unlocks them both
    It’s there at your command

    Come on people now
    Smile on your brother
    Everybody get together
    Try to love one another
    Right now”…

    1. deemallon Post author

      I keep clinging to the idea that America has reached a reckoning. Therein lies some hope. I am inspired by Black people everywhere who continue to fight for justice rather than to organize themselves around seeking revenge. I may be naive as well but the place I feel the most urgency now, in addition to police reform (let’s just abolish immunity and the “unions” as a start!) is voting rights. The GOP is becoming increasingly unhinged, hateful, and dedicated to single party rule. It CANNOT happen.

  3. RainSluice

    Driving around upstate and northern NYS the last two days I’ve seen a few hate-warrens, just a few but nonetheless. They seem to be “backwoods” little outposts plastered with trump flags blue lives matter flags and some just have one confederate flag in a window. Are you seeing the same thing? Often near piles of split firewood.To see these places burns a hole in my heart. I cannot understand it. I don’t want to understand it and I don’t want to be near it. I also know my approach is not fixing anything.

    1. deemallon Post author

      Well I haven’t really gone anywhere in a year but no, around here, 8 miles west of Boston I don’t see any evidence of trump support. They’re here but I don’t think they want to show it. But! SPLC just came out with their annual hate group report and Massachusetts is absolutely dense with them. I used to be surprised by this but I’m not anymore.

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