[sixties-l] Meanwhile Life Outside Goes On

From: Ron Jacobs (rjacobs@zoo.uvm.edu)
Date: Fri Sep 28 2001 - 08:29:18 EDT

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    Meanwhile, Life Outside Goes On


                While the United States (including Cincinnati, I assume) keeps
    its eyes on the Pentagon's preparations for war and its nose in the air
    fearing some kind of biological or chemical attack by unnamed terrorists,
    the men in blue just got away with another murder. The officer who shot 19
    year-old Timothy Thomas in Cincinnati, Ohio last spring after discovering
    he had several misdemeanor warrants out on him, was acquitted of reduced
    manslaughter charges by a municipal judge on Wednesday, September 26th.
    While the media feeds us stories of hero police officers in Manhattan
    (although I find the firefighters, medical personnel, rescue workers, and
    civilians giving their time to be greater heroes) and GW Bush and Attorney
    General Ashcroft try to tear up the Bill of Rights in the name of security,
    the terrorism against the African-American community by law enforcement
    continues its shameful history over the bodies of unarmed Black men and women.

                If one recalls, this murder caused major unrest in Cincinnati
    last spring. Unrest which has been repeated on a smaller scale in the wake
    of this verdict. There will be those who decry this violence as
    inappropriate in the wake of the terrible bloodshed perpetrated on New York
    City and the Pentagon September 11th by terrorists assumed to be connected
    with the anti-American terrorist Osama bin Laden. While they may have a
    point, it is important to recall the terrorism which has been visited on
    people of color in this country since its founding, especially as regards
    African-Americans. The legacy of slavery and second-class citizenship, of
    which police murders are but the most obvious examples of in today's world,
    are a legacy which not only influences America's actions in the legal
    realm, but in all facets of life.
            If the war that many in the Bush administration is pushing for occurs and
    U.S. soldiers find themselves fighting an unending war with U.S. deaths
    higher than they have been since Vietnam, one can be certain that a large
    number of those deaths will be African-American. Unfortunately, many of
    those who come back alive will be subject to the same type of policing that
    killed Timothy Thomas. The freedoms African-American men and women have
    been told they are fighting for in every war since the end of the Civil War
    have been elusive upon their return to the United States. From baseball
    hero Jackie Robinson-who served as an officer in World War II, came back to
    the US and found himself in trouble because he opposed the racism he found
    stateside both on and off base-to Black Panther Geronimo jiJaga Pratt--who
    returned a battle-decorated veteran from Vietnam and found the racism and
    police treatment of African-Americans so distasteful he became a
    revolutionary who ended up being framed and imprisoned for 27 years on
    false charges of murder-the story of African-Americans being used by the
    U.S. government to fight its wars only to find that nothing changes once
    the uniform is off is an all too familiar one.
            There those in the movement against the Vietnam war who sought to link the
    war and racism at home together, some even making the claim that these two
    wars were actually the same. This conclusion does not require any real
    extension of the imagination. Indeed, the attacks on New York and the
    Pentagon have brought out some of the worst racism against Asian and Middle
    Eastern peoples ever known in this country. The growing movement against
    war and for peace has been careful to address this in its slogans and
    literature, calling for an end to discrimination against Arab-American and
    Muslim peoples. It would do well to include in its struggle a call to end
    the seemingly never-ending war against African-Americans who, despite the
    systemic and individual racism they face every day, grieve as deeply as all
    other U.S. citizens for the innocents killed on September 11, 2001, and who
    will most likely die in numbers beyond their proportionate ratio of the
    U.S. population should the Bush war on terrorism get out of hand.

    Ron Jacobs

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