Tuesday, July 12, 2016

American Apartheid: The Times They Are A' Changin'

American Apartheid: The Times They Are A’ Changin'
P. Schultz

            “It’s” all unraveling. The American apartheid regime, instituted in the midest of what was and is called “the civil rights revolution” of the 60’s, is unraveling, is coming apart at the seams and it is unclear what is to replace it. What seems clear is that there is no “Nelson Mandela” on the horizon to try to put things back together again.

            From the presidencies of JFK and LBJ, despite their good intentions and best efforts, policies of occupation, surveillance, incarceration, and deadly force have been used to defuse what in the 60’s was seen as coming explosions in our “inner cities.” Unfortunately, such explosions did happen, in Detroit, Newark, Washington, D.C., and Watts, which led to the fortification and extension of these policies of occupation, surveillance, incarceration, and deadly force. Moreover, as these explosions occurred, the softer sides of these policies, occupation and surveillance by social workers, were compromised and made to look naïve and unrealistic. The darker side of the American apartheid took over as the war on poverty morphed into the war on crime, fueled by disguised racist sentiments such as Daniel Moynihan’s “tangle of [black] pathologies” that made it seem clear that the potential explosions could only be controlled by increasingly nationalistic and militaristic policies.

            As should not have surprised anyone, however, such policies were bound to fail as the occupied, the surveilled, the incarcerated, and the threatened would rebel eventually. And “eventually” has arrived, as illustrated by the phrase and movement, “Black Lives Matter.” This is, it seems to me, a rebellion and, insofar as it is, the police will not be able to suppress it, no matter how thoroughly militarized or “professionalized” they might become. Rebellions are political phenomena and require political responses if they are to be defused or pacified. And political responses, to be adequate, have to address issues of justice, issues of accountability, and issues of class.

            As Bob Dylan once sang:

“Come senators, congressmen please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside and it's ragin'
It'll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a' changin'!”

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