Saturday, July 26, 2014

We Want the Killing to Stop

It seems like such a simple thing, doesn't it? Stop the killing. Cease fire. Put down your weapons. Take up the cause of... true righteousness.

The killings in Albuquerque -- the recent bludgeoning deaths of two homeless men and the even more recent execution of a fleeing suspect -- have garnered attention in part for their sheer mindlessness and cruelty, especially in the case of the homeless men, but as we learn more about the execution, it becomes clear, there's something deeply foul in the minds of those who set out to assert power over the common herd.

They kill because they want to, first of all; and they kill because they think they're supposed to: the correct path in their minds is Death to the Other. "The Other" being literally anyone in the way of... (their) power.

The three boys who have confessed to killing the two homeless men (both Navajo-Diné) in Albuquerque probably thought they were doing nothing wrong -- if they thought about what they were doing at all. I think we'll find out as the story unfolds that at least two of the boys, and maybe all three, are part Indian themselves, so it cannot be considered a racially motivated crime the way some people are already trying to make it out to be. No, the men they killed were not so much of a different race as they were just different enough to be... threatening. They were homeless, and thus a few rungs farther down the social ladder. They were apparently drunks. But harmless drunks. Their very harmlessness was part of their vulnerability and part of the threat they posed to someone -- in this case, three adolescent boys -- looking to assert their own power. The homeless men hurt no one, they wished ill on no one, and that was part of their weakness and their vulnerability and their threat. The boys who killed them probably saw weakness and vulnerability in the Other as a threat to their own status, one it's possible they only managed to secure -- in their own minds -- through violence and cruelty toward The Other.

And where might they get the idea that violence and cruelty toward the weak, the poor, the homeless, the drunk or the addicted was a way or the way to secure their own status or well-being?

It's not as if they haven't had examples. In Albuquerque, for example, a homeless mentally ill man was summarily executed on a hillside, infamously video-recorded by the killers themselves, then hailed by the police chief as a "justified" shooting-murder-execution. Dozens of individuals have been killed by Albuquerque police in the last few years, but that homicide rate is easily bested by the homicides among the people of Albuquerque with no police involvement. The killing goes on with seeming abandon, and when we try like anything to curb some of it -- that part of it generated by the police, for example -- we're liable to see some horrible murder spree take place that the police took no part in. Except... as examples.

Examples of how to properly treat the mentally ill, the homeless, the drunk, the addicts, and the down and outs among us. If you don't kill them outright, then beat them bloody and drive them away or haul them off somewhere and dump them. If you can, you kill them. Why not? They're just useless space takers anyway.

If this is how the police treat them, under the color of authority, and with the full confidence in all the legal protection the city can provide, then why shouldn't a few teen-age boys who see what's going on do likewise? Why shouldn't they?

We want the killing to stop, but why should it stop when The Powers That Be engage in the very same kind of violence they claim they want to thwart? What is this nonsense? If they are the examples to follow, in some ways it's a wonder there isn't much more violence and cruelty and mayhem than there is.

Those who have the power have for long wielded it irresponsibly and then blame the victims of their irresponsibility for the outcomes.

It's sad and sickening.

We see the same methodology and mindset in almost all the conflicts which seem to be engulfing the world this summer. Irresponsible power-madness, continual victim-blaming, and  endless bloodshed. The destruction of Gaza merely one of numerous similar endeavors by powers and would-be powers who think they're doing what's necessary and what they are supposed to do to assert their status.

We want the killing to stop, and that means we want those who wield power in our world to do so responsibly, and this they refuse to do.

Refuse. Outright. They insist that what they do is right and proper, but anyone who emulates them (without "authorization") gets whacked; anyone who defends themselves against the irresponsibility of their rulers gets whacked; anyone who speaks out against the madness is tracked, and if it looks like they might turn into a threat to power, they are whacked.

We want the killing to stop, and we take what actions we can to monkeywrench the killing machine, but every step forward is countered by what seem like many steps back. When someone like David Correia takes to defending police brutality -- because no gun was unholstered and used -- then we have to wonder, is this the world we envision for the future: as much brutality from the police as they can get away with, so long as no one is shot? Absurd.

No, those who wield power must be brought to consciousness of their responsibility. They've lost any sense of it.

Those who wield power set the example for the rest of society, and when that example is filled with violence, bloodshed, and cruelty, is it any wonder there are so many emulations among those who take their cues from the powerful?

This is a simple -- and too simplistic -- understanding of human nature, but until those in power learn to act with dignity and with justice, as opposed to violence and vengeance, the killing won't stop, it will simply get worse. It's a descent into madness.

We want the killing to stop, but we want more than merely that.

We want to live with dignity and justice, community and peace.

It's not too much to ask and expect.

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