Predictable responses to resistance against the system

The Huey P. Newton Gun Club protested against police shootings with an armed march in Dallas on Wednesday. Dallas-Fortworth Fox News reports:

Earlier Wednesday, other demonstrators held an open carry gun march through South Dallas to protest against police shootings.

Organizers there said the show of force served as a reminder of the right to bear arms to protect themselves from criminals and from police.

About 30 men and women with the Huey P. Newton Gun Club rallied through the streets, focusing on deadly police shootings from the Ferguson, MO shooting death of teen Michael Brown to shootings by local police.

Some carried long guns, rifles, shotguns and AR-15s, while others carried signs others and wore messages.

“I think it’s a good thing,” said Reginald Cofer with Mothers Against Teen Violence.

“They are trying to protect the community,” said Jacey Cofer with Mothers Against Teen Violence. “At the city hall meeting the other day, we got no answers. It’s been a bunch of murders, the cops are not being accountable for it, and we want answers.”

Controversy around the shooting of Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, MO has prompted week long demonstrations and the deployment of the police state’s military aresenal in American streets. The commentary I’ve heard from progressives and the left is that the difference in police response to the Ferguson, MO protests and the Bundy Ranch standoff in Nevada demonstrate that there are two Americas, one where scofflaw right-wing gun nuts point weapons at federal agents and get away with it, and one where unarmed black protestors are brutally repressed by the police state.

At the time of the Cliven Bundy standoff in Nevada, I wrote an opinion piece expressing my ambivalence toward Bundy’s specific claims to grazing rights while praising armed resistance to the US police state. Predictably, leftists came out of the wood work to bemoan my lack of hatred for armed, white right-wingers. Perhaps equally predictable are commenters criticzing armed, black demonstrators in Dallas; calling them gang members or racists for excluding whites from their organization. Also predictable are the law-and-order conservatives who side with the police every time a person of color is gunned down by a cop.

Right now, these are the narratives that dominate mainstream opinion. This is something that must change. The tale of these two Americas shouldn’t be about left versus right or black versus white, rather it should be about those who are for the system and those who are against it. Which side are these commenters on? Can we back the police state in one instance and fight it in the other? Or legitmize it by looking down on those fighting it if they fall on the wrong side of the left/right political spectrum or racial divide? The system rules through legitimacy and violence. We can’t grant it legitimacy to use that violence against our perceived political enemies and expect to win when it’s our turn to fight it. Are we fighting for control over the system? Or are we fightinig against it? I know that I am fighting against it. Hopefully there will come a time when the system’s legitimacy is so eroded that, at worst, no one cares when citizens take up arms to defend themselves against it, be they black, white, brown, left, or right. And at best such uprisings would enjoy popular support.

7 replies »

  1. “The tale of these two Americas shouldn’t be about left versus right or black versus white, rather it should be about those who are for the system and those who are against it.”

    Who could deny it?

  2. Well, the problem is that many people do deny it. Whenever incidents like this happen, everyone seems to fall back on their respective narratives. The incidents in Ferguson are an excellent opportunity to build momentum in resistance to the police state…but right-wingers would rather bash black folks instead.

    The Bundy incident presented a similar opportunity…but left-wingers would rather bash rednecks and gun nuts.

    The same gun nuts who formed militias in response to the killings at Waco and Ruby Ridge paid no attention at all when the MOVE was attacked or when Rodney King was beaten a few year earlier.

    Most people also seem to have trouble moving past the hero/vilian dichotomy as well. The issue is not whether you personally “like” or sympathize with the MOVE, Rodney King, Randy Weaver, David Koresh, the Freemen, Oscar Grant, Cliven Bundy, or Michael Brown. There are things about most of these figures/groups that merit criticism. It’s not about whether Bundy or Brown were “nice” people are not. Maybe they were, maybe they weren’t. But the bigger issue is whether we want a society where the state’s security forces function as an occupational army for the ruling class.

    This kind of thinking has to change if there’s ever going to be real resistance.

    Kudos to Vince for writing this post.

  3. Somewhat pessimistic Keith, (although I didn’t intend to imply that Vince’s analysis was inaccurate, I was more going for a grandiose +1).
    I think that huge progress has been made in this area over the last couple of decades. Take Ferguson as an example, fifty years ago this kind of event was met by campaigns for civil rights, effectively asking the elite and state for reform. Today it would seem that most of the black American population are convinced that the elite and state are intrinsically hostile to them, which is probably right in the vast majority of cases. Not because they are black but because the system is hostile to everyone who do not conform to its requirements, and merely tolerates those that do.

    Even out on the radical right, the dumbest of political traditions in terms of its adherents, there has been huge progress. Probably best demonstrated by the fact than when Brevik went crazy he shot up a elite youth camp not a mosque or a gay bar or a dance hall.

    I’d argue that we don’t really need the various mutually antagonistic dissident factions to recognize their common struggle, so long as they all accurately identify their tormentors. Indeed it may be too much to hope for and a project more costly than it is worth to try anything else.

    • “Most people also seem to have trouble moving past the hero/vilian dichotomy as well.”

      That’s a major reason history is so corrupt, it’s constructed as an ideological narrative. For example, if you dislike the US military, people assume you love Nazis and Islam.

      Conservatives are such morons I loathe to interact with them. I mean, the army is literally the most obviously socialist institution I can imagine. How dense can you be?

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