I am reminded of realities of some uncomfortable realities. I didn’t go to any protests today, not only because I’m afraid of Covid-19, but because they erupted so quickly I hadn’t mentally prepared myself to find one. When I read the news today, “oh boy,” and looked at photos of dozens of American cities in flames, the only thought I had was “well here it is, 1968 all over again. The only thing missing is the assassinations.”
But that’s not quite right. In 1968, the cities erupted because Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were murdered, the former by a Palestinian who resented his support for Israel, the latter almost certainly by US military intelligence who resented his opposition to the war in Vietnam. In 2020, the cities erupted because George Floyd, an ordinary man, not a Nobel Prize winner or a former Attorney General, was murdered by the Minneapolis police.
So it’s not really a matter of “first time as tragedy, second time as farce” so much as “first time as tragedy, second time as a consequence of the first.” Martin Luther King was murdered by the United States government because he was a threat to the military industrial complex and the American ruling class. George Floyd was murdered by the Minneapolis Police because 40 years of neoliberal capitalism has created a society where many lives simply don’t matter, where racist cops have a license to kill.
I have no idea where the current crisis is going to lead us. Will it be the fall of neoliberalism? Or will we get out of the closet fascism? My bet is on the latter, but only time will tell. In any event, I recall the words of John F. Kennedy. “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable.” Colin Kaepernick lost his career because he protested against police brutality peacefully. He took a knee. We should have listened more closely to what he was trying to tell us.