And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the negro poor has worsened over the last twelve or fifteen years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.
Corporate news outlets casually refer to protesters in Hong Kong, Ukraine (or anywhere protests occur outside the US empire) as “pro-democracy protesters”, and other positively charged terms.
When people protest in ways that could serve to expand US hegemony, US agencies even provide material, political, and violent support, despite Lyndon Johnson having implicitly admitted the compromising nature of doing this when he said, of anti-Vietnam-invasion protests, “Get me some commie money and organizers behind this student shit”. He understood that exposing, or in his case lying about, foreign money behind protests was a way to try to discredit them.
In the case of the Ferguson protests, they have no foreign motivation. They are part of a process that began when slaves were brought to this land by white fascists and used against their will to help exterminate the indigenous peoples who had lived here for thousands of years, and to help, also against their will and for no pay, establish the US economic base.
In the mid 1800s, the US “supreme court” (these names always remind me of KKK terms like “grand high dragon”) officially determined and ruled into US law that blacks were sub-humans and slavery was for their benefit. (Dred Scott) The sentiment is common by exploiters, and was similar to when the colonists had earlier stated that they were helping the Native Americans, when in fact they would probably not have survived even the first winter if it were not for the Natives helping them.
Even when slavery was “officially” ended after the Civil War, it continued, as being black in America was essentially outlawed so that blacks could be imprisoned and still used as virtual slave labor, a practice which continues today in a prison system that disproportionately targets people of darker complexion (as, by extension does the US/western led international “justice” system, which focuses mainly on Africans).
Harsh de jure segregation existed on the books until very recently, in both the North and South. One documentary I recently viewed showed the government mandated racism during WW2. To the dismay of dedicated black fighters, German POWs were treated better than blacks fighting on the US side – both volunteers and conscripts – simply because of the Germans’ white complexion.
At that time, there were massive KKK marches in DC. Lynchings were so common and “legal” segregation was so harsh that 20% of blacks said they thought they would fare as well under Hitler as in the USA. Lynchings occurred in the North and South. They were joyous affairs in which entire towns would participate. Kids would be pulled from school to watch, and people would take parts of the black person’s body – ears, noses, etc. – as mementos.
The racist Jim Crow laws were official US policy until 1965. They “mandated the segregation of public schools, public places and public transportation, and the segregation of restrooms, restaurants and drinking fountains for whites and blacks. The U.S. military was also segregated, as were federal workplaces, initiated in 1913 under President Woodrow Wilson, the first Southern president since 1856. His administration practiced overt racial discrimination in hiring, requiring candidates to submit photos.”
It can’t possibly come as a surprise that such racism would not simply disappear. Equal treatment under the law remains illusive. Progress has been hard-won in the streets, and will continue to be pushed forward.
If anyone can find an example of a mainstream US news outlet referring to Ferguson protesters as “pro-democracy” or even “pro-justice”, “pro-equality”, or “pro-civil rights”, etc., please comment.
Also please note it is not this author’s goal, while discussing extremely prevalent institutional and moral problems, to stereotype lawmakers or law enforcers as bad and/or racist.
Robert Barsocchini is a researcher focusing on global force dynamics. He also writes professionally for the film industry. Here is his blog. Also see his free e-book, Whatever it Takes – Hillary Clinton’s Record of Support for War and other Depravities. Click here to follow Robert and his UK-based colleague, Dean Robinson, on Twitter.