Protests, Monsters and Change
“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster, for when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” -- Friedrich Nietzsche
-- Don’t become the monster you are fighting against.
Many say we are witnessing history in the making. I am not so sure. Many times, protests for social change start with a bang and end with a whimper. Will this happen now?
Americans have been making history, albeit on the other side. In 2016 the conservative movement in America elected their man, Donald Trump into the presidency with the promise of great change. The GOP held the presidency, the House of Representatives, and the Senate and what did they accomplish? Extraordinarily little to nothing. This should be a warning flag to those who protest now. You have a lot of work to do and that work has nothing to do with marching. It has everything to do with politics.
To ensure that the protesters don’t make the same mistakes that Trump and his allies made in 2016 they should start developing a plan, now, for the upcoming elections. Nothing changes in America if you don’t change the laws and to change the laws you have to change the political players.
Every protest should have a dedicated group that goes through the crowed and registers people to vote. It’s one thing to march in the streets, but how many of those marchers are voters? And how many of those voters will vote? To make change this must be priority number one. Fail here and you fail everywhere.
These protests are more than just about police brutality, or at least they should be. The protests should be about making a fundamental change to an American political system that since its beginning brutalized some citizens with an unfair and unjust criminal justice system, political system, social system, and economic system. If you want change then you must get involved in politics at every level; the school board, judges, mayors, council members, state legislatures, congress and presidency.
If we genuinely want change, recognize that it will not come quickly. This is a long march for all of us. You only need to look back on Reconstruction (the time immediately following the Civil War) to know that once you tire and abandon the change you crave today, it will be easy for the demons of the past to rise up again. Reconstruction was working but ended only 12 years after the Civil War. Once Reconstruction ended, all those statues to Confederate slave owners and war heroes that are being torn down today, were going up then. Jim Crow laws were enacted to suppress black voters and the South simply returned to a system of legally endorsed slavery. This is the future if the protesters don’t have the stomach to follow through for decades on today’s marching.
In my inbox I have received emails from McDonald’s, Amazon, Disney, and Wal-Mart all virtue signaling their praise for the current protesters and their support. Don’t be fooled. All it comes down to for them is profit. If these companies really want social change, then their emails should be to announce all employees will receive a LIVING WAGE and affordable health insurance. Make them do more than just pontificate. If you want to make meaningful change then demand that these ultra-rich companies pay their workers a wage that gives them the hope for a better tomorrow.
Beware of sports team owners and athletes, politicians, media personalities, pundits, millionaires and billionaires of any race who could have strongly worked for change years ago, but only now are coming to the table. For them, their sudden concern about Black Lives Matter, etc is just about business, nothing more.
Don’t be fooled by politicians and police chiefs who have suddenly seen the light on criminal justice reform. The questions that protesters should be asking people like Minneapolis Mayor Frey and Police Chief Arradondo is why didn’t they repeal the policy for neck restraint years ago when they first came into power? That was their job and they failed to act. They should be fired. They failed the citizens of Minneapolis, and to think they will not continue to fail in the future is to ignore their complicity in this matter. When I saw Frey sobbing at the casket of George Floyd I had to wonder: were his tears were for his own political career?
Don’t be fooled by Houston Police Chief Art Acevado, who is going on a national media blitz proclaiming his outrage at Minneapolis and Trump. When CNN interviewed Acevado regarding the George Floyd killing, they should have asked him why he defended his own rogue narcotics team when they murdered two innocent Houston citizens. Look back to January 2019 and you will see Acevado slandering Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas (killed by HPD) as violent drug dealers who started a gun battle with his Houston PD narcotics team. It was only weeks later that the investigation showed that Tuttle and Nicholas were innocent and were murdered by Houston narcotics officers. Two of those detectives are now facing murder charges and dozens of their past cases are under review by the Harris County District Attorney for falsifying evidence that possibly put dozens of innocent people in prison. Acevado is not the police reform hero he proclaims to be. He failed to manage Houston police for years and only now, because of the outrage of Tuttle and Nichalas murders does he make policy changes that he should have made years ago. Beware of political opportunists like Acevado.
After this column was written, Reason Magazine reported that the same Houston Police detective who is now facing charges for murdering two Houston citizens and falsifying hundreds of cases, therefore incarcerating hundreds of defendants, arrested George Floyd in 2004 on drug charges. Floyd served a ten month sentence. Was he guilty? Or a victim of a corrupt police detective? Chief Acevado should answer this question.
We need more mayors like Louisville mayor Greg Fischer, who fired the Louisville police chief for not changing policies at LPD for years. Fischer has been mayor since 2010 and he bears responsibility for not addressing issues at LPD until now, but at least now he has done so in the best way, holding the police chief accountable. You want police reform? Hold the mayor and chief accountable and fire them if they fail.
Many protesters are demanding that cities defund police departments. This is not going to happen. In a civilized society you need the police to keep order. What these protesters should be demanding is a clear definition of what they want police officers involved in and what type of laws they want them to enforce. Most police departments are very professional with good leadership and great men and women, of all races, who want to serve. Where we have failed as a society is when we allowed political pundits to make the police the go-to answer for all of society’s problems. That is a failed policy.
Protesters should not paint the picture that all departments and officers are bad when that is not true. Protesters should ally with good police departments to make fundamental changes that will make clear the role of the police and the policies that govern them. As for police departments with glaring issues, as I stated before, protesters should fire those mayors, council members and police chiefs and elect more competent individuals.
Each community must decide what they want from their police department and then be a watchdog to stop politicians from tacking on to police responsibilities every problem in a community. Police are there to enforce laws, protect property and people. If your community needs more social workers and teachers, hire them. Don’t make police officers into social workers and teachers, it doesn’t work.
Lastly, it is wrong for the mob to go after anyone who doesn’t speak exactly as they wish. The cancel culture has always been proven to be the wrong response; open dialogue is the way forward. Andrew Sullivan (NY Magazine), Drew Brees and Stan Wischonowski (Philadelphia Inquirer) are all recent examples of how quickly we can lose our First Amendment right to freedom of speech. The best way to go respond to speech you find offensive is to debate it. In that way you may change minds, maybe even yours.
Don’t become the monster you are fighting against. You are better than that, I hope.