The situation with the murder of Sean Bell by the NYPD has been a serious topic as of late. I am sure, for many Americans who are not minorities, this case means very little- emotionally speaking. Most of White America seems to feel that the topic of police profiling and physical abuse by police in the African American community is widely over exaggerated.
However, the book Lest We Forget: White Hate Crimes by Alphonso Pinkney outlines in depth the systematic racial violence and judicial bigotry that gripped the 1980’s. Remember, that songs like N.W.A.’s F**k tha Police”, Ice T’s rock song “Cop Killer" and Paris’ “Coffee, Doughnuts and Death” all came from this era. In his book, Pinkney states, “These people [the police] are employed to protect citizens, but far too often they murder the people they are supposed to protect. Individuals sworn to uphold the law are now breaking the law. Under these circumstances, citizens rightfully fear police.”
While speaking to a friend from New York, he asserted that he felt that the city might erupt in riots if justice is not served in the courts for Sean Bell. Together, we theorized that New York has never really gotten closure over the murders of Michael Stewart, Yusuf Hawkins, or the case of subway shooter Bernhard Goetz in the 80’s. Situations that are more recent include the murder of Amadou Diallo and Sean Bell. Collectively we concluded that New York is smoldering with decades of unresolved racial injustice, and that Sean Bell is the tipping point that could lead to statewide violence.
I told him that I did not believe the National Guard could effectively lockdown all the boroughs of New York should there be a riot. I also told him that if that happened, it could spawn nationwide uprisings. Down in Atlanta, the police shot an elderly African American woman to death a few months ago. Los Angeles and the Bay Area have historically been hotbeds of conflict for African American youth and the police. I also think there are many disenfranchised Latinos, Whites and Asians who are upset with the system. Even if they were not in full allegiance to what started the riot, they could exploit the chaos in the moment.
Then my friend said something that really shook me. He said that one of the things that is making young Americans feel more confident in rioting, was the effectiveness of the guerillas that are combating U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said that their small victories have created new hope in young people of all races who feel ostracized by the American system at home and abroad. The young people believe they can potentially win big, with violence as an option.
In a documentary about conflict between lions and hyenas called Hunting with the Moon, there is a clip of a young lion cub growing into adulthood. He is gaining in size, but still a bit awkward in his step. During a skirmish with hyenas over territory, the young lion shows a level of courage previously unseen in prior clashes. The narrator stated something like “Fear has been replaced by hatred.” Sadly, young American minds have been led to this warped thought pattern.
I reflected on the bizarre predicament America finds herself in. For the last 30-40 years, she has preached justice, harmony and peace. At the same time she has sown the seeds of violence, bigotry and war across the planet.
One only need place the outline of the Weinberger Doctrine against the military operations in Lebanon, Central America, Panama, The First Gulf War, Somalia, Bosnia and Kosovo to see my point. Virtually every operation was an outright failure. Many times the justification of entering the clash was flimsy at best. The military campaigns were not always strategically clear and the diplomatic follow up was rarely thorough. Under the guise of championing "freedom", we have alienated ourselves from much of the rest of the world.
The United States claiming to be about these things in the face of such hypocrisy makes our country appear to many as a Goliath. We look like a huge bully. Everybody knows that nobody- likes a bully.
The American Goliath towers above, domestically. Look at its failure to provide quality education for the youth, the rampant police brutality, an uneven job market and a rapidly growing prison industrial complex (which is a ripple effect from a failing educational system). Few trust their vote matters anymore. The rise in home foreclosures highlights the rapid erasure of the middleclass.
Others can view America as a Goliath internationally. It comes with false hunts for WMD’s. It comes when President Bush enshrouds the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan with Crusader fantasies; attempting to install surface democracies while these countries fully embroil themselves in civil war. It seems, as though, America has become in many ways the very thing that it says it hates. No matter how rosy the sunglasses we might put on are, America now stands as a country that is very openly racist, very class driven, highly bigoted, spiritually hypocritical, and socially, culturally and morally bankrupt on many planes.
Now let us look back at that bully, Goliath.
In the Bible it says that after David hit Goliath “the stone sank into his forehead and he fell on his face to the ground…When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.” David then took the sword that Goliath brought to battle from his hand and cut his head off with it. I find it interesting that the weapon Goliath brought to the field of battle was the weapon used for his own destruction.
Ironically, Saul originally told David that he should not go fight with Goliath because “you are but a youth, and he [Goliath] has been a man of war from his youth.” Alas, it was a young man, using what appeared to be inferior weaponry who won the day on that battlefield. Such is the case in Iraq and Afghanistan. Youth and unfamiliar guerilla tactics are winning over the old school veterans of war.
Michael I. Handel stated in his book Masters of War, “unless armies are capable of destroying the enemy’s forces in theory and in reality, potentially and actually, they cannot achieve the states political objectives.”
I view the inability of the Bush Administration to bring peace and democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan to be one of many stones that will be smashing into the face of the American Goliath. Blood now runs down the face of a once invincible nation. The world is watching.
One of the things about bullies is that once ONE person can hurt them deep- others, who were first afraid, arise courageous from the shadows. President Jimmy Carter notes in his book Our Endangered Values that “An April 2005 public opinion poll revealed that 29.5 percent of South Koreans consider the United States to be their greatest threat, compared with 18.4 percent who named North Korea. Among university students, 50.1 percent saw America as the major obstacle to peace in the peninsula.” I have a serious belief that North Korea and even China in the future might soon emerge to confront the American Goliath.
Handel states in another section of the book that “if a side that first appears to be weaker can find other methods, such as avoiding battle and stalling for a considerable time, building larger coalitions, or exploiting a materially superior position, then even a looming Goliath can be defeated eventually.”
War demands that we be honest in our assessment if we wish for a positive outcome. This war is not working. This economy is not working. The high rate of youth violence and drug use across the country is proof that our nation is in bad shape. We live in an age that embraces materialism over morals.
Let me be very clear here. I am not a fan of riots. I am not a fan of war. Especially with the technology that exists today. I believe that 99.9% of all personal and political conflicts can be resolved peacefully. However, this hinges on the integrity of the leadership of both sides in the conflict. I do not want to see any American cities burn. I do not like seeing our youth coming home in body bags from a pointless war. American youth are angry (in many ways justifiably so).
Times like these give birth to groups like The Weathermen, The Deacons for Defense and The Black Panther Parties of the future. Where there is no justice for the people, rage replaces fear (and sometimes logic). Things can get out of hand quickly. I am not attempting to be alarmist. I am attempting to be a realist.
Senator John McCain stated, “The future takes care of itself if you do your own work at the time.” The question is will the Republican, Democrat and religious leadership of this nation gain the courage and humility to avert what looks like the beginning, of the end, of the invincible America we once knew? Will we do our work? This is the time. For the sake of our children, let us hope that we can- because Goliath bleeds deep.
Holla at a scholar,
"I'm still down for the young Black male. I'm gonna stay until things get better. So it's all about addressing the problems that we face in everyday society." - 2Pac Shakur