Chris Hedges Essay Original

Chris Hedges: Gaslighted by the Ruling Class

We are trapped in an abusive relationship. When we finally have enough, our abuser comes after us with flowers and apologies, promising never to do it again.

By Chris Hedges / Special to Scheerpost.com

Police take the knee. NASCAR and the U.S. Marine Corps ban the display of the Confederate flag. Nancy Pelosi uses a kente scarf as a political prop. Joe Biden, one of the driving forces behind militarized police, the massive expansion of mass incarceration and the doubling and tripling of sentences, speaks at George Floyd’s funeral. The National Football League apologizes for its insensitivity to racism, although no teams appear to be negotiating with Colin Kaepernick.

The mayor of Washington D.C., Muriel Bower, had the words “Black Lives Matter” painted in 35-foot-tall letters on a street near the White House but has also proposed a $45 million increase in the police budget and the construction of a $500 million new jail. The press, which does not confront corporate power and rarely covers the poor, rendering them and their communities invisible, engages in circular firing squads, sacking or admonishing editors and journalists for racially insensitive thoughtcrimes, to advertise its commitment to people of color.

Once again, we see proposed legislation to mandate police reform — more body cameras, consent decrees, revised use-of-force policies, banning chokeholds, civilian review boards, requiring officers to intervene when they see misconduct, banning no-knock search warrants, more training in de-escalation tactics, a requirement by law enforcement agencies to report use-of-force data, nationally enforced standards for police training and greater diversity — proposals made, and in several cases adopted in the wake of numerous other police murders, including those of Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Philando Castile. The Minneapolis Police Department, for example, established a duty to intervene requirement by police officers after the 2014 killing of Brown in Ferguson. This requirement did not save Floyd.

Police unions, often little more than white hate groups, continue to have the unassailable power to brush aside would-be reformers, including community review boards, mayors and police chiefs. These unions generously bankroll the campaigns of elected officials, including public prosecutors, who do their bidding. Police unions and associations have contributed $7 million to candidates running for office in New York state alone, including $600,000 to Andrew Cuomo during his gubernatorial campaigns.

It is, as Yogi Berra said, “déjà vu all over again.”

The public displays of solidarity are, as in the past, smoke and mirrors, a pantomime of faux anguish and empathy by bankrupt ruling elites, including most Black politicians groomed by the Democratic Party and out of touch with the daily humiliation, stress of economic misery and suffering that defines the lives of many of the protesters.

These elites have no intention of instituting anything more than cosmetic change. They refuse to ask the questions that matter because they do not want to hear the answers. They are systems managers. They use these symbolic gestures to gaslight the public and leave our failed democracy, from which they and their corporate benefactors benefit, untouched. What we are watching in this outpouring of televised solidarity with the victims of police violence is an example of what Bertram Gross calls “friendly fascism,” the “nice-guy mask” used to disguise the despotism of the ultra-rich and our corporate overseers. Whatever you think about Donald Trump, he is at least open about his racism, lust for state violence and commitment to white supremacy.

A Shot In the Dark, by Mr. Fish

The crisis we face is not, as the ruling elites want us to believe, limited to police violence. It is a class and generational revolt. It will not be solved with new police reforms, which always result, as Princeton professor Naomi Murakawa points out in her book “The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America,” in less accountable, larger and more lethal police forces.

The problem is an economic and political system that has by design created a nation of serfs and obscenely rich masters. The problem is deindustrialization, offshoring of manufacturing, automation and austerity programs that allow families to be priced out of our for-profit healthcare system and see nearly one in five children 12 and younger without enough to eat.

The problem is an electoral system that is legalized bribery designed to serve a tiny, unaccountable cabal of oligarchs that engage in legalized tax boycotts, deregulation, theft and financial fraud. The problem is that at least half of the working class and working poor, a figure growing exponentially as the pandemic swells the ranks of the unemployed, have been cast aside as human refuse and are being sacrificed on the altar of profit as the country reopens for business and the pandemic crashes in wave after wave on front line workers.

The problem is the diversion of state resources, including over half all federal discretionary spending, to an unaccountable military machine that wages endless and futile wars overseas, the savage face of white supremacy beyond our border. This military machine perfects its brutal tactics and tools for control on people of color in the Middle East, as it did in other eras in Vietnam, Latin America and the Philippines. It passes on this knowledge, along with its surplus equipment, including sophisticated equipment for wholesale surveillance, drones, heavily armed SWAT teams, grenade launchers and armored vehicles, to police at home. Smashing down a door and terrorizing a family in a night police raid in Detroit looks no different from a night raid carried out against an Afghan family by Army Rangers in Kandahar.

Empires eventually consume themselves. Thucydides wrote of the Athenian empire that the tyranny it imposed on others it finally imposed on itself.  

The entrenched racism in America has always meant that poor people of color are the first cast aside in society and disproportionately suffer from the most brutal forms of social control meted out by the police and the prison system. But there will not be, as Martin Luther King pointed out, racial justice until there is economic justice. And there will not be economic justice until we wrest power back from the hands of our corporate masters.

Until that happens, we will go through cycle after cycle of brutal police murders and cycle after cycle of the profuse apologies and promises of reform. We are trapped in an abusive relationship. When we finally have enough, when we cry out in pain and walk out, our abuser comes after us with flowers and apologies and promises to change. Back we go for more.

My hope is that this time around the gaslighting will not work. The protestors that have taken to the streets in some 750 cities are young, diverse, angry and savvy. Many were betrayed by the Democratic Party hierarchy who once again ganged up on Bernie Sanders to shove a corporate stooge down our throats, the calculation by the ruling elites being that as awful as Biden is, we will vote for him because he is not Trump. That this tactic failed in 2016 doesn’t seem to faze the oligarchs.

Many of those in the streets can’t find meaningful work, are often burdened by large sums of student debt and have realized that in this world of serfs and masters they don’t have much of a future. They understand that if these protests are to succeed, they must be led by people of color, those who suffer disproportionally from the inequities and violence meted out by the occupying forces of the corporate state. And they also know that social inequality is at the root of the evil we must vanquish.

The ruling elites will never willingly defund or abolish the police, which cost taxpayers $100 billion annually and often eat up half of city budgets, for the same reason they will never pay a minimum wage to the 2.3 million prisoners who work in our ever-expanding gulag. By defunding or abolishing the police, or by paying prison workers fair wages, the primary bulwark used to keep a subjugated population in check will be removed, or in the case of prisons make the system of neo-slavery financially unsustainable.

Rather, the elites, while assuring us that they feel our pain, will insist, as Biden is doing, that by throwing even more money at the police, and increasing police numbers on the streets of our cities, police will be accountable. This is true. But the police will be accountable not to us but the ruling class.

In 1994, then Senator Biden pushed through the Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act. It was supported by the Congressional Black Caucus, evidence of the growing disconnect between black political elites and those they should protect. The caucus has, in the face of the current crisis, once again called for the tired and toothless reforms that got us into this mess. “Black elected officials have become adept at mobilizing the tropes of Black identity without any of its political content,” notes Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor in the New York Times.

The bill authorized $30.2 billion over six years for police and prisons. Biden boasted that he “added back into the Federal statutes over 50 death penalties — 50 circumstances in which, if a person is convicted of a crime at a Federal level, they are eligible for the death penalty.” The bill, he bragged, authorized “over 70 increased — 70, seven zero — 70 increased penalties in new offenses covering violent crimes, drug trafficking, and gun crimes.” It also established the Community Oriented Policing Services or COPS Program that has handed more than $14 billion to state and local governments, most of the money used to hire more police. COPS also provided $1 billion to place police in schools, accelerating the criminalization of children.

The 1994 bill more than doubled the prison population. The United States now has 25 percent of the world’s prison population, although we are 4 percent of the world’s population. Half of the 2.3 million people in our prisons have never been charged with physically harming another person and 94 percent never had a jury trial, coerced to plea out in our dysfunctional judicial system.

Biden proudly said in 1994 he represented a new Democratic Party that was tough on law and order. “Let me define the liberal wing of the Democratic Party,” he said at the time. “The liberal wing of the Democratic Party is now for 60 new death penalties. That is what is in this bill. The liberal wing of the Democratic Party has 70 enhanced penalties, and my friend from California, Senator Diane Feinstein, outlined every one of them. I gave her a list today. She asked what is in there to every one of them. The liberal wing of the Democratic Party is for 100,000 cops. The liberal wing of the democratic Party is for 125,000 new State prison cells.”

There is only one way to defeat these forces of occupation and the ruling elites they protect. It is not through voting. It will come from the streets, where tens of thousands of courageous men and women, facing arrest, indiscriminate police violence, economic despair and the threat of Covid-19, are fighting for not only an end to racism, but for freedom.


[Chris Hedges writes a regular original column for Scheerpost twice a month. Click here to sign up for email alerts.]

Copyright Chris Hedges.

Chris Hedges
Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning NewsThe Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He wrote a weekly column for the progressive website Truthdig for 14 years until he was fired along with all of the editorial staff in March 2020. [Hedges and the staff had gone on strike earlier in the month to protest the publisher’s attempt to fire the Editor-in-Chief Robert Scheer, demand an end to a series of unfair labor practices and the right to form a union.] He is the host of the Emmy Award-nominated RT America show On Contact. 

41 comments

  1. I was worried that this movement was going to get co-opted successfully. We’ll see if they are able to use fake concessions and misdirection to whittle the unrest to a “manageable” size.

    I’d be curious to hear your views on Minneapolis PD being prospectively defunded.

    1. BLM donations are processed by Act Blue, which funnels a baksheesh to itself, so yes, co-option is baked in (along with usual spies and infiltrators).

  2. As always Chris Hedges cuts through all the bullshit and tells it like it is. This is why, even though at times he presents a really tough pill to swallow, I make a point to read everything he writes.

  3. Here’s an example of exactly this sort of gaslighting from perhaps the most monstrously mendacious group of ruling elites. The “Great Reset” Schwab is referring to is the transition to “stakeholder capitalism” from its precursors, “shareholder capitalism” and “state capitalism.” The overt common factor is capitalism , but what’s not mentioned is the underlying fascism inherent in all three.
    https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/06/responding-to-the-anger/

    1. According to two tough journalists: Pepe Escobar and Mike Whitney, what Schwab says here has been mirrored by Millions of $$$s funding BLM. Here’s some of the very trustworthy individuals we know as Amazon, Microsoft, T-Mobile, Addidas, Nike, and hundreds of others.
      This is a political stunt purposely instigated by these corrupt thieves in a Presidential Election Year.

  4. I’d like to see the current unrest evolve into a broader movement focused on economic injustice. However, this is fraught with all kinds of problems, least of which, is the optics of co-opting a movement focused on racial injustice.

  5. It’s not true that we ‘wrest power back from the hands of our corporate masters’. Wresting power from them pure and simple is what it’s really about, since they’ve always had it and the population at large has never had it. The present uprising is tentatively posing the question of power, with some wondering how it might be held by the majority if gained. At a point, many will realise what is required to wrest real power from the corporate masters is the need for a new state machine to wield, exercise and defend it. Wresting power from the oligarchs necessarily will involve smashing their existing state apparatus, of which the leading edge is the cops, and replacing it with one that reflects the will of the vast majority. Of course any such the regime that emerges from a successful overthrow of the capitalist class — a workers state — has never existed in the US, just as workers and the oppressed have never had state power in the US, despite what the Democrats and their supporters might like everyone to believe.

    What we’re witnessing now might be characterised as a pre-pre-revolutionary situation. The key attribute of a pre-revolutionary situation is the existence of dual power, where orders from the government and its state are effectively countermanded by the mass organisations engaged in struggle. Most often dual power manifests as the mass organisations (eg, soviets, communes, etc) providing for the everyday needs of the population (including defense) and, crucially, a chunk of the military refusing to obey orders to repress its own population. When a significant section of the rank and file of the military actively goes over to the side of the uprising, with the rump staying in its barracks, then a pre-revolutionary situation has well and truly arrived.

    While the protests so far have no real organisational structure, significant involvement of the organised working class, a program for taking power, nor a revolutionary leadership, they’ve nonetheless released a righteous fury that’s been building for decades. Importantly, the protests have exposed to all and sundry the tawdry and squalid role of the state, its violent repressive essence, that previously was confined to black neighbourhoods or the smashing of workers picket lines, and therefore largely invisible. What’s been witnessed far and wide by most can’t be undone or ‘unseen’. And just as a cop’s truncheon teaches the individual more about the essence of state power than the most rigorous political sociology course ever could, the widespread publicity of the raw, brutal viciousness of the bourgeois state has hit everyone collectively like the proverbial cop’s truncheon.

    The vicious brutality of the cops has only been matched by the grotesque displays by Democrats and cops alike in ‘taking the knee’, which are so dumb they shouldn’t fool anyone. Sickening.

    The present crisis may well be a crisis for the bourgeoisie, but it’s also one for the working class and all the oppressed. A revolution that overthrows the tiny minority of parasitic exploiters and despoilers can’t happen spontaneously, without a conscious leadership steeled in struggle. This ruling class, like all in history, can’t be overthrown without their state being shattered and replaced by a new state that reflects the new ruling class and its property relations. As yet, no revolutionary leadership exists, and this is the true crisis humanity is facing.

    The current developments are first baby steps but, unlike Occupy, they will leave a legacy that won’t easily be erased. From the disgusting cop violence, and from the equally disgusting role played by all sections of the corporate political and media puppets in supporting the cops, hard lessons are being learnt. A layer of black leaders will emerge who no doubt will be looking for real solutions to the crisis. With luck some of these will come to understand the necessity for a revolutionary party with a program for truly wresting power from the ruling class, and who will form a large component of the revolutionary leadership necessary to bring about the social revolution so desperately needed.

    Without such a leadership, our species can’t take the crucial step needed for its survival, one that technology has promised for over a century: the creation of a global, democratically run, rationally planned socialised economy that serves the vast majority of the world’s population. Technological advances have outstripped the stagnant social arrangements bolstering private property so much and for so long that the howling contradiction between the social nature of production and the private appropriation of the productive surplus can no longer be easily hidden or disguised.

    It’s also untrue that the working class has been reduced to ‘serfdom’. To be sure, the process of deindustrialisation, especially of the ‘civilian’ economy, has degraded the nature of work in countries like the US, and corresponding technical prowess (along with techno-nationalistic pride) has also declined. But capitalism has always de-skilled its working population — it’s in the nature of mass production to reduce complex tasks relentlessly into simpler, ever more mind numbingly repetitive ones.

    To be sure, the decay of empire also degrades its working population in other ways, as its rulers become increasingly kakistocratic they consciously infantilise those they rule correspondingly. But there’s been no qualitative change in the relations of production under capitalism in its twilight to suggest that ‘serfdom’ has arrived. While workers may be tied to their employers by the horrible US private health insurance scam (ie, superficially like serfs), and while finance capital might deeply desire an enslaved population in peonage, debt bondage or servitude, and of course in thrall to the ‘masters of the universe’, other sections of the capitalist class aren’t so enamoured of such a possibility. After all, if they can see such fate also awaiting them from unpaid debt, then their certain desire to not be proletarianised won’t compare to the prospect of debt bondage and serfdom. The pre-requisite for serfdom would not only be fascism but the suppression of a significant, less parasitic, section of the bourgeoisie itself.

    Co-optation of protest movements and uprisings always occurs when they can’t be put down immediately by physical force. While the kakistocrats are incompetent enough that even the most naive can see through their efforts, those more competent and with more sway are calling for community ‘control’ of the cops. This is the leading edge of co-optation, it’s happening right now, and it’s coming from ‘left’, alternative quarters, ultimately in service to the kakistocrats.

    1. Stephen’s partial quote: “while finance capital might deeply desire an enslaved population in peonage, debt bondage or servitude, and of course in thrall to the ‘masters of the universe’, other sections of the capitalist class aren’t so enamoured of such a possibility. After all, if they can see such fate also awaiting them from unpaid debt…….”

      It’s true that some of the middle/upper middle classes are being hurt by higher taxes, higher insurance costs, etc. However, the power of US Oligarchs has just about reached their limits. Too many contending powers like China, Russia, & others are having a cumulative effect ’round the world with trade and finance. History repeatedly tells us with inner/outward struggles, the said Empire tends towards small, but significant errors before the Ship goes down. Have faith in studying how Empires rise and inevitably fall. It’s quite a legacy.

  6. Chris Hedges cuts through the muck and meandering to expose the rot in a system that’s supported by corruption through and through

  7. A very good article that should be read by everyone in the country. Although I am bothered by the property damage and looting it is clear that peaceful protests will likely be ignored.

    To make the news every night something has to happen that can’t be ignored.
    However, along with the protests I think these same, energized young people need to vote.
    The percent of black and white people marginalized, in society, is quite large now.
    How many of these young protestors vote? 1/3, 1/4?
    Probably 80% of the country is now living in disadvantaged conditions, as that has been stated as the people living paycheck-to-paycheck.
    If they can get more of these citizens to vote, we will have more Bernies and AOCs elected.
    When they replace people like Pelosi, Schumer, and McConnell, the country will also change.
    Violence is a quicker way to get attention, but for lasting change you have to have some control, or at least significant influence on congress.

    1. “Although I am bothered by the property damage and looting it is clear that peaceful protests will likely be ignored.”

      Yes, already in Australia we are barely hearing about the protests. Sadly, the looting in the first day or two got front page billing.

      The other problem with any violence is that it makes many people feel the need for a strong police to “protect” them (and their property).

      1. Listen to Jimmy Dore show with Chris Hedges, he will tell you that Bernie is a ‘sheep dog for the Democrats.’

    2. Bernie and AOC are sell outs. Chris Hedges witnessed Kshama Sawant approach Bernie and asked him to run as an independent. Bernie said that he did not want to end up like Ralph Nader. They also both voted for the cares act, which gave corporations billions of dollars and working class 1,200.

    3. Dennis – sorry to burst your bubble, while these young folks are mad as hell, they are so abysmally ignorant of The Oligarchy, and their Political minions, with every institution corrupted by Big Money – there is no possibility it will ever dawn on these protesters WHO they should direct all if their hatred towards:
      Big Tech, Wall Street/ALL Politicians & the Military Complex; to name just a few.

  8. Protests need to soon evolve from purely racial focus to reality that the latest congressional and Federal Reserve beneficence to Wall Street and the rest of corporate America was not a Bailout, but a Giveaway! — to those who need it the least! The greatest upward transfer of wealth ever! A conscious policy decision to benefit billionaires and screw everyone else! And all the Dems voted for it.

    As Chris points out, there will not be racial justice until there is economic justice. The chants need to change to express the economic unfairness — You gave Wall Street Trillions. We demand help now!

    1. Hey Richard what is the latest beneficence to wall street you are referring to?

      ..Chris hedges always offers a valuable perspective, but for the first time I find myself some what disagreeing with his stance. I don’t believe these are “savvy” protesters and I don’t believe most protestors are protesting anything other than racism. I think this a movement based on a half truth, thats exploited social media and a public that lacks deep thinking, and is completely missing the mark when it comes to what we really need to be in the streets for. IMHO

      1. There is an element of truth in your perspective. Hedges did a very similar rosy assessment of the Occupy Movement.

        Regardless, his critique of power is vitally important – as for alternative models, it seems like #CHOP in Seattle is providing an example of occupying public space and exercising your right to the City.

  9. Hedges is one of the best journalists this country has ever produced. Since he regularly exposes the corruption and maliciousness of the Democrats as well as the Republicans, he is not allowed on mainstream media, just like Chomsky. The oligarchs that run the DNC & MSM thwarted the only candidate offering real change, Sanders, so now the only outlet for those who cannot deal with the status quo is to hut the streets.

    1. Sorry – Hedges colorful writing can be found all over the internet. We need to remind ourselves that there are many people in America – very successful people with thriving lives that are richly rewarding both financially and spiritually who never read Chris Hedges. Or much social media at all. Are we going to accuse these people of anything?

  10. The Gilets Jaunes have been protesting since the end of 2018. Protestors have died and suffered horrible injuries (eg been permanently blinded). But what do they have to show for it? Sod all.

    Try another suggestion on what the 99% can do about it. You gotta be a helluva lot more imaginative. These ruling classes abide by a very strict code of conduct. If you observe their actions, they do things by the book. The only reason has to be because any deviation from their rules will get them into deep doo doo. I sure can think of no other reason. Can you?

    Have you noticed that they signal their intentions long before they screw us? Doesn’t that seem a really stupid thing to do? Why tell the victim you intend to screw him till his eyeballs drop out before you do so? However, they do such notifications very surreptitiously. They did not make a clear and precise announcement on the front page of a major newspaper/magazine nor on prime time TV on a major channel. No, they drop hints. For example, look at how 9/11 was shown on the Simpsons or in movies like Terminator and the Matrix. The messages are in plain sight but the audience needs to be damn alert to spot them and make a huge superhuman leap to interpret them correctly. So why do they do this?

    My suggestion is that it’s about karma. If I gouge your eye out without warning you, I incur a karmic debt. If I tell you I’m going to gouge your eye out but you do nothing. Then when I gouge your eye out, I can offer the defense that you consented to me gouging your eyes out because you did not object. after I told you of my intention. You see where I am going with this?

    These guys fear incurring karmic debts. It’s a very real fear which drives their behaviour. This is their weakness. So aim your attacks at your enemy’s Archilles heel.

    I reckon if you pile these guys’ karmic debts up high, you’d have built a bridge to Saturn’s famous rings. Now how are you going to make these suckers pay their debts? You go to whoever adminsters the karmic system and point out that it’s about time those debts get paid. We should not tolerate these dead beat debtors any longer. However, I do not have a name for whoever does the leg work on this but I know his/her/its/their ultimate boss. No, not Jesus. Go to the top and say to God that we have a karmic debt problem here on planet Earth and can He please look into this ASAP and make these lousy Satanists pay their debts to you, your family, humanity and the planet itself (which is also a living entity). And of course one should remember one’s manners and thank God for listening and hopefully, acting on one’s petition for action.

    So whaddya say to my suggestion, eh? Since there’s no hope of ever getting justice in the courts of Man, we apply to the celestial courts for redress and hopefully restitution. Plus ask for punitive damages while we are about it

  11. The path forward I choose is to participate in the creation of a parallel system called the Commons at the urban community level. See Bollier.org. This involves interposing a third force between government and the market to hold the other two in check and attract commitment and resources away from the destructive Crony capitalist nation state. The Commons is organized from the bottom up as a community that manages m, uses, and shares common resources that can improve the well being of marginalized populations. These resources include alternative currencies, local exchange trading systems, (see The creation of wealth: Using local currencies to grow local economies by Bernard Lietaer and Gwen Hallsmith), and public banks that can address the interconnected crises in affordable housing, healthcare, education, eldercare, childcare, community generated and climate change, low income, income and wealth inequality, and food among many other matters. I make this choice because confronting the existing power structure never really delivers a successful outcome but depriving it of adherents by attracting them away does. Already there is a global network of Commons-driven cities emerging that is making this happen including Ghent in Belgium, Amsterdam in Holland, Barcelona in Spain, Bologna in Italy, Seoul in Korea, Frome in the UK and many more. My city of Ann Arbor Michigan USA is moving in that direction as we create the Ann Arbor Community Commons.

  12. This article is spot-on! I appreciate finding a voice that tells the truth like this one, and analysis that cuts through the b.s. like this one. Chris Hedges, I will be sure to read your work in the future.

  13. The U.S. gulag supplies ample serfs compliments of the imminent and ongoing destitution that awaits anyone that questions, disrupts or attempts to distance themselves from or challenges the current Judicial and legislative arrangement. The American Experience, it’s dynamic invention and most developed institutions all sail on controlled winds of change destined toward the final atrocities capitalism has to execute on a global scale so as to maximize returns from countless wars and schemes to further enrich and reward those tasked with maintaining the status quo..

  14. So who tf do we vote for if Biden is just the lesser of two evils? Where are the action plans here? Okay okay. We GET it! Everything is a dumpster fire. Blah blah race, blah blah trump, blah blah corporate overlords. WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT IT?!

    1. Right now, not much except keep informed. Noam says vote against Trump. They disagree. When there are enough of us, participating in enormous, sustained, disruptive, willing to be arrested and get heads cracked, continuing and continuing and demanding REAL SUBSTANTIVE change, in enough numbers and actions ON MANY LEVELS, change will come.
      We can do it. But WILL WE? I’m ready.

  15. With all due respect (and I have a great deal of respect for Chris Hedges), I noticed some uncharacteristic imprecision in the language of this excellent essay. As a student of American history as it relates to slavery and its aftermath, I feel confident in saying that:

    People of Color weren’t brought to America in chains
    People of Color were never considered to be property
    People of color never had their families permanently separated, as a matter of course
    People of Color did not have their labor (and the FRUITS of that labor) stolen for 250
    People of Color didn’t build the wealth of this country through the cultivation of cotton, sugar, rice, etc.
    People of Color (except for Native Americans) weren’t categorically denied the benefits provided for in the Homestead Act, i.e. 160 million of acres of free land; a sizable amount of which is still in the same families today
    People of Color were not hunted, like quarry, by any and all white persons, pursuant to the Fugitive Slave Act.
    There were no “People of Color Codes” which enabled plantation owners to enslave them
    People of Color weren’t categorically denied access to certain jobs and job training programs during The New Deal
    People of Color were not the targets of the US government redlining programs that created ghettos while simultaneously creating, out of whole cloth, the American middle class

    Yet every one of those things happened to descendants of American slavery (“ADOS”). Which stands to reason: no other group shares our history, nor our distinct, involuntarily assigned place in American society: the bottom caste.

    At a time when ADOS are suffering disproportionately from the physical and economic stressors caused by COVID, when we are also being gunned down by state officials, with impunity; when Hispanic gangs in L.A. act as counter-protestors when we march for justice; when Chinese immigrants challenge affirmative action programs that were supposed to be a remedy for ADOS’s oppression, and when, despite the fact that our community suffers fully twice the unemployment of the general population, US employers continue to import labor, I would hope that people would our singular 400+ year history in this country would earn us the courtesy of a specific reference to our cohort. To do otherwise, to flatten our history by attributing its effects to essentially every other person who’s not white Anglo-Saxon, is to erase us, thereby aiding in the slow-motion genocide of ADOS, or as I call it, the American Holocaust. And if we don’t identify the victims with clarity and specificity, there’s absolutely no hope of fixing the problem.

    All of this to say, can we please let the term “POC” die of disuse? Or better still, take it out back and shoot it? Because some peoples’ access to justice, if not their very lives, depend on it.

    1. What they (the police) need to do is understand that the salvation of us all is in the joining of common cause WITH us and “get” the real reason they exist: to protect the interests of the ruling elite against those that are more like them in every way than any corporate Kleptocrat ever could be. Ditto the military.

  16. “Many were betrayed by the Democratic party hierarchy who once again ganged up on Bernie Sanders to shove a corporate stooge down our throats, ”
    Noone as far as I know was forced to vote for Joe Biden. When people go to polls and freely vote for people who don’t support their interests, do they have the right to take to the streets in protest. It’s not just the system, it’s the voters.

  17. God I love this man. His books are my window to the real world.
    A world view of spirituality but not dogma, informed by deep religious understanding.
    As I see it, among other attributes Chris is the clear eyed uncynical but no BS, Arabic speaking,[read:culturally informed], everything-important-to know, truth-speaking lover-of-humanity-journalist we all need. I was so lucky at OWS and Occupy Washington DC AND privileged to meet him, ask him questions and know his rarefied authenticity. It is said there are 3 types of ppl: those that make things happen, those that watch what happen, and those that wonder what happened.
    Chris helps me with all three, but especially to explain the last of the three, and what the hell IS HAPPENING.
    He is a real gift to us all, and I hope he lives and works even longer than Noam.

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