We are living amid failing and dangerous political, economic and cultural systems dominated by a small group for their advantage at the cost of everyone else. Benefit in general has to come from somewhere. It tends to come from the rest of society. It’s a pretty well-known, but all too rarely protested, fact. Our political systems are functional for the 1% and functional for the other 99% only like a prison is “functional” for an inmate: perpetually increasing in proficiency at keeping the 99% disempowered, fractured, subservient and forever paranoid for their very existence. The empire rests on crushing the littlest people into disadvantage and then mustering those stolen advantages for the people at the top of that empire.
One way this 99% can be effectively fractured is for the 1% to convince them they don’t share common interests but are instead mortally opposed to each other, in some final and unalterable manner. This work of division can be done in many ways, from sexism to consumerism to colonizing culture to classism, and among the most reprehensible and effective: racism. As a mechanism of power, ranging from personal to institutional, racism is a powerful fractional tool for the 1%. Rest assured that if we have the boldness and foresight to challenge this terrible method the moneyed colonizers of modern society will not give it up so quickly.
One painfully obvious example, this racism keeps poor whites thinking their skin color makes them better than poor non-whites, and thus conveniently broken up from fellow citizens that share more of their interests than the 1% that is riling them up into this irrational hatred.
Considering that 1 in 2 Americans are in economic trouble at this point, throwing salt in our eyes with race-paranoia and racism keeps a lot of powerful solidarity from forming.
And when the system, as much an internal empire as an external empire, is challenged on its sprawling institutional bigotries, its survival reflex is to engage in the ugliest of deeds: assassinate the character of its derivative victims–in this case Trayvon Martin. This is for a very good reason. The corporate system that dominates modern life is corrupt in such a way that the assassinations of young black males is something that is regularly covered up. This is very obvious in the case of Trayvon Martin, as it has been obvious in many cases before.
When we size up the massive breadth of corporate-sponsored blowback against a family that seeks justice for their dead son, we can sort them out in different tactics towards the same strategy: blame the victim.
Some are plain lies meant to justify the bigotry to one part of the right-wing base while making sure people far away from that base are convinced that racist wing of the party isn’t racist at all–and surely isn’t pre-disposed to murdering young black men.
Other conservative attacks are campaign-oriented, just meant to score points with white racists. For example,
Gingrich asked, absurdly, “Is the president suggesting that if it had been a white who had been shot that would be OK because it didn’t look like him?”
Some are entirely unsourced accounts of what actually happened during the shooting that have been purposely leaked by the Orlando Police Department. The PD, which tested Trayvon Martin’s body for drugs but not his killer’s, has a lot of blame on its hands.
Among the most heartless of their institutionally bigoted acts towards Martin’s family is the fact that despite a missing persons report being filed by his mother, Trayvon’s body was held in the morgue for three days–just one more random young black man, presumed a criminal. This hints at a systemic practice of presuming dead young black males are in fact dead young criminals.
The local police know very well they let a racist killer off the hook, and it damn well looks like they would be comfortable with doing this regularly without the public commotion about it. They too, much like the moneyed elites (who fear losing the fracturing power of effective institutionalized, and then personally internalized racism) are in a reflexively defensive mode. The police’s attempt to amplify the usual challenges of a normal teenager into the criminal record of a maniac by leaking unsourced information hints at systemic patterns of victim-abuse, not a tragic one-off incident.
But if there’s a further pattern to these corporate-sponsored piles of intellectual scat, it’s in assassinating the character of Trayvon Martin. Excusing or ignoring the actions of the victimizer’s is nothing new to the party that only last year tried to redefine rape to make it harder to prove and regularly plays the victimizer’s “blame the victim” card.
Besides the absurdity, cruelty or downright counterfactual points brought up in this corporate-sponsored choir of bigotry and authority there remains one unalterable truth. The methodical way this murder was buried from public sight. One would almost say the “systemic” way this institution was perfectly ok with the murder or an innocent young black man. This young man was killed in cold blood by a paranoid racist with a gun, who was then protected and defended not only by a police department that saw nothing wrong with what he did, but a corporate media that lined up to echo both the hatred and the substance of their argument.
This is how Trayvon Martin was assassinated twice. Once, as the result of a system which for the sake of greed gives lee-ways to some of its “losers” to make them feel like “winners.” A second time because we dared to question the cruel habits of that system.
But perhaps the use of the word assassination seems a bit strong, or at least out of place?
What is assassination?
According to the American Heritage dictionary
1. To murder (a prominent person) by surprise attack, as for political reasons.
2. To destroy or injure treacherously
We’ll get to the political in a second.. What is prominent?
1. Projecting outward or upward from a line or surface; protuberant.
2. Immediately noticeable; conspicuous.
3. Widely known; eminent
Prominent. As in the eye of a racist beholder who things young black men stick out–as criminals. Political. As in a series of institutions, from police departments to corporate media to gun-peddlers like the NRA, wielding power to dramatically hamper our political and legal abilities to deal with this systemic level of ultimately murderous bigotry.
With good reason you could even argue that “the random male minority” (not as a specific person, but as a frightening stereotype they now see in many black males) has his non-existent self become sort of “widely known”. You know, that random minority thug you’re always seeing on Fox “News”? That’s who George Zimmerman was trained to see. Because in case you do follow the news, you’ve probably already noticed,
“exposure to network news lowered estimates of African-American income, and network news exposure also increased the support of African-American Stereotypes, such as the portrayal of Blacks as intimidating. In addition, Dixon’s (2008) findings concluded that more exposure to network news was positively associated with higher marks on the Modern Racism Scale (MRS; MsConahay, 1986).”
Young black males are being assassinated, and not just murdered. Their murders are assassinations because the context of the killings implies not the failings or the accidents of an occasionally sloppy system, but a series of politically protected and criminally enforced systems engaged to break minorities into submission in the short-term while breaking even the simplest of solidarity between natural allies in the long-term.
The murder of Trayvon Martin was the accomplishment, not the mistake, of a racist and ultimately greed-based system, this includes its politics, economics and culture. The system’s reaction to our protest of this killing is also an accomplishment, not an accident, of this greed-based system.
The greed goes beyond the feared loss of billions in the domestic weapons industry to a much higher ethos of greed, one that pushes for a steady solidarity of the 0.01% against the economic, political, social and cultural power of the rest of humanity. This little project of theirs, even with their economic advantage, would not hold for long without fractures along that 99%.
People power is a mighty force, and the 1% know this. That’s why they need to assassinate Trayvon’s character. They want to paint over the reality that he was in fact just a regular teenager who was assassinated for being a black male with a hoodie.
In fact, amidst even this second assassination of Trayvon Martin, the system’s alarm at our demand for justice, coordinated from political wonks to local police, should in itself give us a glimmer of hope. There’s something big we’re playing with here and they’d like us to stop. They’ll lie about it, they’ll distort the truth and eventually if we protest long enough they’ll beat our asses in the streets to bring the point home. This case, in being so representative of a long-denied reality, goes to the core of a lot of what’s wrong with our country, and a lot of people are catching on.
How could this murder be so easily hidden by the very police that are supposed to protect us from murderers? Is it a good idea to let gun-dealers lobby our government at all? And if we’re all paying for the police, shouldn’t they be working to keep us all, excluding no-one, from getting murdered? What if this isn’t the only time moneyed interests are happily driving a divide between people? What are they gaining from that division?
What are we losing?
Image: Fresno Bee