For the most part wars begin over a reaction to some kind of affront, whether it involves a personal or national insult or a dispute over land and resources. America has had more than its share of wars and save the first and second world wars, they were wars of imperialism seeking resources and influence; that is just an historical fact. After the heinous ambush on Dallas police officers supervising what was hailed as an “admirably peaceful protest” in response to two recent cold-blooded murders of African American men by law enforcement, a malcontent Republican and a conservative mouthpiece claimed America is now in a race war. It is with no small amount of despair to say there has been a race war in this country for at least 165 years when Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation; sadly, that war shows no signs of ever letting up or reaching a conclusion.
As an American with several law enforcement officials as immediate family, and several more as personal and family friends, it was nearly as heartbreaking to learn 5 Dallas police officers were killed as it was learning that two more African American men were killed by law enforcement officers in the past week. What is striking about the events in Dallas is that it was executed by an African American Veteran who had seen enough of legalized institutional massacres against other African Americans and he said enough is enough; that is what Republicans considered the start of the “race war” they’ve been panting for.
Now, this screed is in no way excusing the actions of the shooter, but this idea that one fed up African American striking back at law enforcement officials was the start of a race war is simply preposterous. The current iteration of America’s century-and-a-half race war began in earnest on November 4, 2008 when Americans elected an African American man as president and culminated in the horrific ambush against Dallas police; a police department, by the way, that is regarded as progressive by any standards. What is despicably true is that the escalation was incited by Republicans as much as the white supremacists still fighting the Civil War.
It is noteworthy to mention that nearly as soon as Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President, calls for a race war began ramping up among many in the conservative movement because no small number of Americans could comport an African American man sitting in the Oval Office. Any idea that America had turned the corner on blatant racism because a Black man was elected by the people was dispelled with hateful comments about the President’s race that Republicans never condemned. In fact, Republicans at all levels of government have spent the past eight years perpetuating white racial angst by disparaging African Americans as surrogates for President Obama.
Regardless of what anyone thinks about Hillary Clinton, she made a very prescient observation that white America should heed before they claim a fed-up African American man started a “race war.” She called on white Americans to put themselves in the shoes of African Americans “who fear every time their children go somewhere; who have to have the talk about how to really protect themselves when they’re the ones who should be expecting protection from encounters with the police. I’m going to be talking to white people – I think we’re the ones who have to start listening to the legitimate cries that are coming from our African American fellow citizens.”
As a noted sociology professor wrote on Friday that no matter how many atrocities are committed against the African American community, whether it is deliberately underfunding schools or being murdered by police officers, white America refuses to listen. There is no doubt whatsoever that if African American police were gunning down innocent white males with impunity, or Black politicians were robbing funding from white neighborhood schools to enrich African American neighborhoods, or passing laws to stop and frisk white kids because they are white, or restricting their right to vote, there would be an enormous outcry and rioting in the streets.
What happened in Dallas was not the start of a race war; it was one angry man who has had to sit and watch, often literally on video, white law enforcement officers murder African Americans with veritable impunity. As an aside, if any reader is unaware of the gross disparity in how white males are treated by police compared to African Americans, an ‘experiment’ was videotaped, with police knowledge, specifically to show precisely why there is a war against African Americans. That one fed up African American retaliated is a testament to the restraint of the African American community at large, while the calls for retribution by Republicans reveals that the same restraint is non-existent among many ‘official’ white Americans.
Some of those “official” white Americans are firmly ensconced in the Republican Party whether it is House Speaker Paul Ryan disparaging African American males as “lazy” or the conservatives on the Supreme Court giving state-level Republicans constitutional authority to deny entire Black communities their right to vote. What really exposes the gross hypocrisy of many white Americans, is that when a white Confederate massacred 9 African Americans while they were in their place of worship, the event was not remotely considered an act or start of “the race war” because it was a white confederate murdering African Americans.
The Dallas ambush was, however horrid, bound to happen sooner rather than later. In fact, it is amazing nothing similar has happened before now. Remember, there are roughly 40 million African Americans in the nation and they have had to watch or read about, over and over again, innocent African Americans being gunned down with extreme racial prejudice. When Blacks loosely banded together to remind Americans that “Black Lives Matter” as much as white lives, they were immediate labeled as thugs by Republicans and threatened with retribution by white supremacists.
If African Americans knew how to make the racial animosity driving the war against them stop, they would certainly take action. As Michael Eric Dyson wrote,
“Day in and day out, we [African Americans] feel powerless to make our black lives matter. We feel powerless to make you believe that our black lives should matter. We feel powerless to keep you from killing black people in front of their loved ones. We cannot hate you, not really, not most of us; that is our gift to you. That we cannot halt you; that is our curse.”
Sadly, on Thursday night, one fed up African American Veteran wrongly decided that he was not powerless if he had a firearm and did what many white people would do if they were in the same situation. It is a terrible tragedy that the Veteran was pushed to the limit and a bigger one that nothing will change because this is America and there has been a race war against African Americans for decades and there is no end in sight.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.