Wed, 7 January 2015
The Big Reality Show, the 1% and the Myth of the Thin Blue Line
A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
There's a potent and powerful racist and classist myth that tough cops, jailers, judges and prosecutors are all that stand between us and rampant crime, anarchy and ruin. For American politics its an increasingly necessary fantasy, a myth that generations of public officials from jailing judges and hang 'em high prosecutors, to lock 'em up legislators, sheriffs, governors and even presidents have based their careers upon.
The myths are necessary because no modern society can openly abandon its duty to provide its people quality educations, decent housing, living wage jobs and economic security, unless it is willing to brand large numbers of those it won't provide education or housing or jobs and a dignified retirement unworthy, undeserving and irredeemable. The American political class of both parties, including black politicians stopped even talking about any rights to full employment, decent housing, economic security and the like decades ago, preferring to pretend that There Is No Alternative.
Thus the myths of the triflin' lazy, drug-addled crime-ridden, mostly black and brown poor are essential to the stability of America as we know it. These myths are the ethical and moral justification of the neoliberal economic order and its prison state. Overpolicing and mass incarceration don't just happen because the cops are racist, the prosecutors corrupt, and the legislators and media vicious and cowardly, nor are they driven by the profits of private prisons or captive labor.
America's savage police and prison states provide us with a long running reality show that justifies our profoundly unequal and unjust social order. It gives us a morality play that casts the criminalized and mostly nonwhite poor as villains kept at bay by the heroism of that thin blue line, while schools, roads, parks public works, nature and even water are privatized, while private and public pensions are looted, while student loan debt, black unemployment and underemployment continue to rise and wages continue to fall, while child homelessness is at an all time high and there are more vacant homes than homeless people, and while the rich and famous are celebrated and lionized for being famously rich.
This is something that politicians from the president down to local mayors and aldermen know, and top cops, from Homeland Security and the FBI to state and local departments know as well. It's something those in motion in the streets today over the last dozen and the next dozen police atrocities need to better understand and articulate. The burgeoning movement against police immunity and impunity really IS a threat to so-called “national security”, a menace to the privileges of banksters and employers, of privatizers and gentrifiers, the prerogatives of the 1%.
When more of them openly question these prerogatives in the same breaths as they do the privilege of cops to murder and maim with immunity and impunity, we'll be a long step closer to a better world.
For Black Agenda Radio I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.
Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of the GA Green Party. Contact him via this site's contact page or via email at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.