Photo used courtesy of Ryan Vizzions www.amodernghost.com
I keep coming back to this picture… I am not the “activist” type, I’m an advocate of working within the system to achieve change where possible and I support the need for law enforcement in a civil society. If I am honest with myself my activism is somewhat pedestrian, I write books with a social commentary, I’m active on social media and I vote; but do I leave the comfort of my desk, my office, my car, will you see me on the nightly news holding a placard, being sprayed by a water cannon, rinsing tear gas from my eyes – the simple answer is no.
This admission doesn’t change that I am fervently supportive of equality, I stand against oppression and have no tolerance for discrimination in any form. But the more I think about what this picture represents the more I believe it really transcends or maybe encompasses all of these. You see there is something uniquely disturbing about the blatant militarization of a domestic police force. I have heard all the arguments about “arming” up to combat the gangs, drug cartels, terror cells etcetera, and I understand all of it – but the reality is this has become the status quo – the first response posture not the strategy of last resort.
And so, I am disturbed, uncomfortable, and distraught by this because you may think its just about a bunch of Native Americans and some river far away from where you live but you are seriously missing the point. You may believe that capitalism built this county and this pipeline is good for America and what’s the big deal? You are seriously missing the point. You may even discount the potential ecological issues or dangers, but again you are seriously missing the point. Quite possibly you don’t believe in “sacred places” or spiritual things or the sovereignty of the Native tribes, but you know what? You are seriously missing the point…
Because at the end of the day as important as all of those things actually are, whether or not you believe and support them, the real point is that this is how minority opposition is dealt with in today’s America. This is what it will look like Christians when they come for your Bibles; this is what it will look like environmentalists when you stand in the way of corporate progress, this is what it will look like 99%ers when you blockade Wall Street, this is what you can expect college students when you finally protest the ridiculous tuition increases you suffer under, or the average American that decides we shouldn’t attend the next war the corporate world throws for us or that we have a right to healthcare. This is what it will look like…
This is not about Democrats or Republicans – Liberals or Conservatives this is about the calculated suppression and intimidation of our individual freedom, liberty and our right to free speech. Its not about individual police officers or National Guardsmen forced to stand these lines because they need to feed their families too. Its about a broken system that has come to believe this level of response is not only acceptable but required – it’s about an apathetic American public that stands by and says well that’s disturbing but its not me so I’m going to sit this one out.
I don’t have any answers, I am not an alarmist, I don’t subscribe to an “evil government” conspiracy theory, I am not anti-establishment per se – I just believe we as a people need to carefully consider what we allow to become acceptable practice in our country; collectively – together – blind to race, creed, color, ethnicity, or orientation – one in our resolute spirit and our advocacy for each other and this nation we call home.