It’s hard to believe Micah Johnson alone made so much mayhem, and up-ended a growing awareness that black lives haven’t mattered, but that they should. Now, some white people blame Black Lives Matter for Johnson’s rampage!
It’s almost as if some white racist group, maybe one of the ones endorsing Trump, paid and trained Micah in the fine art of killing white people, in order to start their much anticipated Race War.
It feels as if humanity’s response to trouble is violence. When violence becomes endemic in a society, dictatorship often follows: to quell it.
Thus, if we have well-armed crazies, or groups, attacking the police, and the police attacking civilians, it is likely that many will feel that the only answer is a ‘strongman’ aka a dictator.
Trump has not offered himself as Dictator, as Julius Caesar explicitly did, but he has presented himself as “strong,” “tough,” and independent, his own man, unconcerned with “political correctness,” appealing to white men angry about their loss of dominance, as well as their loss of economic security, and priority.
I suspect that Trump’s appeal to, let’s call them the white, psychologically disenfranchised, less educated men, is not so much in the substance of what he says—mostly zippy one-liners—but in the way he says it. His pronouncements are meant to enrage and mobilize, not to lay down a political platform. What he’s for may be fairly obvious, and is sometimes even revealed (like his comment that wages are too high), but as far as his followers are concerned, that’s not the point at all.
The violence on both sides of the divide legitimizes violence by the State. So, Trump’s projection of “strength,” much of it simply bravado, makes it that much more plausible to many, that what the US—and the world—needs is a Strongman: Trump as popularly elected dictator.
Many will see the shootings by and of police as justification for “a strong hand,” to bring society back to order—with white men on top, of course.
To create peace and positive relations between races, or between law enforcement and minorities is much more difficult. As Obama remarked, the tensions may not even be resolved in his children’s lifetimes, certainly not in mine (I’m 77).
But, through the civil rights movement, the feminist movement, the LGBTQ movement, American society has evolved beyond the patriarchal white supremacy of the Jim Crow era. Obviously, it has a long way to go. BlackLivesMatter posits a simple idea: black lives matter as much as white lives, not less.
So, how to respond to Trumpophiles?
Show that Trump, by both his pronouncements and his business actions, can’t be trusted: he’s changed positions, sometimes even mid-speech. Even more revealing, he’s ripped off the little guy, time and time again; that’s how he built his fortune, like the stereotypical crooked used car salesman multiplied many times over.
Then, look at what he favors (lower wages, punishing woman for abortions, tax cuts for the wealthy, dismantling government services, like Veterans care, Obamacare, small business loans. Want protection from loan-sharks like pay-day lenders? That’ll go away under Trump. Want protection from banks? Trump wants them as his friends; he wants to dismantle any regulations that “hamper” their operations, maybe even sub-prime mortgages redux, or pay-day loans. With his five bankruptcies in Atlantic City casinos, Trump made money; his creditors, including many small business-people, lost big-time: they were paid back pennies on the dollar.
That’s legal larceny; he transferred their work, and money into his pockets and kept it, because he hired sharp lawyers.
The real reason Trumpophiles support him is: because he implicitly and explicitly gives them the freedom to express their rage against the myriad “others” who seem to have challenged their supremacy and had significant successes.
That rage has a lot to do with our soaring rates of inequality, which create vast social gaps between people in, supposedly, middle class America.
Rage is also fear, which, may be the reason for the police shootings and the Dallas sniper.
Police are taught to shoot at body mass, the biggest target, which is why so many black people are killed. So many are shot, however, because white policeman have been taught from childhood to fear black men, so when they encounter one, the meeting is tense and the cop shoots because he expects the worst and acts on it: as he did with Philando Castile; shooting him because Castile was reaching for something, telling the cop he had a permitted gun, but was reaching for his wallet—the cop had asked for his license and registration. Because Philando was black, the cop shot him (four times), not knowing which he was doing: reaching for his wallet, or his gun. If he had been white, the cop would have waited a fatal instant longer and would not have shot him.
Micah Johnson wanted to kill white men, because he was afraid and angry that white cops were killing his people, so black people never felt safe. I know I’d be enraged; I wouldn’t go out to shoot cops, but desperate people do desperate things. How would you feel if you had to fear for your life every time you drove to work? How would you feel if everyone with your color skin, also drove in fear?
In the long run, the solution for the violence, desperation and anger is a radically more equitable distribution of wealth, to lessen the gaps, or tears in our social fabric.
In the short run, just recognizing that people are hurting and fearful on both sides, and sharing that fear and the hurt would get us started on the right track: closing, or narrowing social gaps and tears.
It will be a long road, but the alternative is a new kind of Fascism and/or race war.