I know this risks seeming trite and as though I’m re-tracing already well established lines, but I’m guessing that like me, when you were a young child you were taught to respect and even revere policemen (they were virtually all men then) and firemen (ditto re the gender deal). You were probably encouraged to smile and wave when they drove by or if you saw them when they were walking their beat. They probably smiled and waved back, or gave you one of those confident White-man-looking-down-from-on-high curt little nods that signaled you were worthy of their attention, however brief, and receiving that smile, wave, or nod gave you a boost, got your heart beating a little faster from the thrill of it. You might have noticed the holstered guns or the batons, and if you did, their presence probably only made you feel that much safer, that much more secure in the knowledge that if the “bad guys” tried anything, the trusty police officer(s) would dispatch them and all would be well in the blink of an eye.
Thus it was (and is) for White children growing up in a White supremacist country – we were (and are) afforded both the luxury and the burden of being blind to the ways that White privilege is fundamentally protected and fostered.
In trying to learn more about the “failure” of the Capitol Police and reports of some of those officers and members of the military having been helpful to the terrorists, having been polite and friendly to them, having taken god damn selfies with them, having been part of the mob, having used their badges to get into the building, I came across this from The New Republic:
“Harel Shapiro (sic), associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas Austin, wrote recently on the fundamentally linked fates of right-wing and state violence, what we are witnessing is not exceptional. It is endemic to the American project. “These elements—militarism, whiteness, masculinity, and racism—form the bedrock of not only the militia movement but its intimate connections with American democracy.””
I know that Dr. Shapira is only stating what should now be obvious to most sentient beings, but he puts it extremely well (and note, the TNR got his name wrong – arg!), much like the Twitter person who said “Don’t look for Hannah if Miley is on stage” about the “mystery” of the completely lame police/military response to the terrorists on Wednesday.
I made myself look at one of the clips on Twitter of a big, burley, apparently blond, very White, Capital policeman as he posed for a selfie with one of the terrorists. I made myself fight the instinctive response to smile at an image of a White man in authority bestowing positive attention, but even knowing what I know and having the values that I have, it was hard.
Yesterday on my walk I saw a homemade poster in a window (really, an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper) that conveys a quote from Ijeoma Oluo:
“Antiracism = Fighting racism wherever you find it, including in yourself.”
So much work to do. So, so much work to do.
Before I close, I want to note for the record that “Tree of Liberty” appears to have announced the planned January 17 armed assault back on November 24th and “Gun and Game” carried a story about it on December 3rd (I didn’t click on either one because I don’t want to contribute to them in any way whatsoever). I’m bringing this up because the news reports about Twitter having banned you in part because of talk of another armed insurrection on that day aren’t saying anything about how this isn’t a new plan, which is extremely problematic because if this really is something that’s been in the works for months, we sure as shit better know that and not treat it like something that just came up yesterday (literally).
May we be safe.
May we be willing to pull our heads out of wherever we have them lodged.
May we hold strong and stay healthy.
May we accept that we likely haven’t seen the half of it yet.