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News » Opinion

Colin Kaepernick & Endemic Racism

Smart Bomb: The completely unnecessary news analysis



How long? Not long, because no lie can live forever," said Martin Luther King Jr. on the steps of the state capitol in Montgomery, Alabama, on March 25, 1965. "How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." Well, here we are in 2020, and the cities of this country are again ablaze after yet another African American was slain senselessly by police.

White America, take a look around. How does Colin Kaepernick look now? Banished from the NFL for taking a knee during the national anthem, he became a pariah of team owners who feared white fans and white supremacists, like Donald Trump and Mike Pence, would boycott games because Kaepernick "disrespected the flag." The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback knelt in silent protest against racism and the continuing killing of black men by police. It's the kind of peaceful dissent that authorities say they respect now that there is rioting in the streets. In peaceful times, not so much. To be black or brown in this country is to be a second-class citizen constantly on guard and subject to insult and humiliation on a daily basis. That this society, particularly police, lawmakers, government institutions and corporate America, casts a blind eye to racism makes all white America complicit in the lynching of George Floyd.

Gore and Hillary ... What If?
Ever wonder what kind of world we'd be living in if Al Gore had been elected president in 2000, and Hillary Clinton in 2016. Both Democrats won the popular vote. In Hillary's case, a total of 88,000 votes across three states delivered the Electoral College victory to Donald Trump. The U.S. Supreme Court handed George W. Bush a questionable win over Gore. But imagine if Gore had won. Karl "Bush's Brain" Rove would now be a greeter at Walmart. Bush's VP, Dick Cheney, and Defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, wouldn't be war criminals. And then-Secretary of State Condi Rice wouldn't go down in history as ignoring the warnings of Sept. 11. The economy might not have fallen off a cliff. And George W. Bush could have gotten a head start on his new avocation, painting-by-numbers. If a perfect storm had not somehow landed Donald Trump in the White House, we wouldn't have "Fake News." The "enemy of the people" would be taking after Hillary. And Jason Chaffetz, Mr. Ethics From Utah, would still be in Congress investigating Benghazi. The MAGA hat people would retreat to the woods in their camouflage, readying their AR-15s for the revolution. And the U.S. Office of Global Health Security and Biodefense would not have been disbanded, and we wouldn't have more COVID-19 deaths that any other country in the world—and we wouldn't have that "badge of honor" that Trump boasts about. Is it just a coincidence or are Republicans just really good at driving us into the ditch?

Tilting at Phantoms & Democrats
"The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat," said Couy Griffin, the head dude of Cowboys for Trump. His group and other would-be heroic knuckle-draggers are upset because of the coronavirus pandemic and attendant business closings, social distancing and, not least, face masks. It's all been a freedom grab by those Demon Democrats. Anti-lockdown protesters are spoiling for a fight even as states relax coronavirus restrictions. In Kentucky, a patriotic hater hanged an effigy of Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear with the slogan: "Sic semper tyrannis," which means "thus always to tyrants." It's popular with anti-government types—little surprise, that's what John Wilkes Booth shouted before shooting Lincoln. WTF. How did Democrats become responsible for coronavirus? Don't try to apply logic to Trumpers—they just need someone to hate. And the hater-in-chief is calling out Democrats because ... well, because they're Democrats. Anti-lockdown patriot Adam Smith from North Carolina posted a video on Facebook saying his bunch were willing to kill people over coronavirus restrictions. "I'm not trying to strike fear in people by saying, 'I'm going to kill you,'" he explained. "I'm gonna say, 'If you bring guns, I'm gonna bring guns.'" That's funny, nobody said anything about guns except these mad-as-hell self-described patriots. But damnit, they need a fight. And who better to take on but those phantoms, wherever they are. F—ing phantoms.

Same Smoke, Different Day
For those who lived through the Vietnam War era, like Wilson and the band, the ugly face of America now on display has a taste of 1968 déjà vu about it. When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968, riots broke out in 125 American cities. Police had a deadly shootout with Black Panthers in Oakland. Civil rights advocate and presidential candidate Bobby Kennedy was murdered on June 5. The Democratic National Convention brought police riots to Chicago during the last week of August 1968. The country was coming apart. Those events followed the Tet Offensive in January 1968, when an all-out assault by the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong fighters on South Vietnam convinced Americans the war could not be won, despite the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans who had given their lives for the dubious cause. A disproportionate number of black Americans died in Southeast Asia. Those who did come home could not hail a cab or buy a house in certain neighborhoods. We have arrived at the tinder-box stage again here in the country that promises "in God we trust" and "all men are created equal" and boasts anthems of togetherness: "America! America! God shed his grace on thee and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea!"

Postscript—Who was it who said things can always get worse. Oh, man! Well, we've got the coronavirus pandemic with 104,000 dead and counting. We've got 45 million people out of work, many of whom could soon become homeless. The country's leader is insane and terrifying and has created a nationwide theater of the absurd. The Republican Party has been sucked into the delusion, and its officers fall all over themselves praising the emperor's new clothes. And, of course, we have police killing black people from coast to coast for no good reason. No wonder astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken wanted to blast off in the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft and get the hell out of Dodge. Outer space seems so nice right about now. But we are stuck here on Earth and should make the best of it. All is not lost, people do good things for one another all the time. Each act of kindness makes this a better place. As Buddha said: Our sorrows and wounds are healed only when we touch them with compassion.

All right Wilson, tell the band to put down the hookah and take us outa here with a little something for our déjà vu:

There's something happening here / But what it is ain't exactly clear / There's a man with a gun over there / Telling me I got to beware

I think it's time we stop / Children, what's that sound? / Everybody look—what's going down?

There's battle lines being drawn / Nobody's right if everybody's wrong / Young people speaking' their minds / Are getting so much resistance from behind

It's time we stop / Hey, what's that sound? / Everybody look—what's going down?

What a field day for the heat / A thousand people in the street / Singing songs and carrying signs / Mostly saying, "hooray for our side"

It's time we stop / Hey, what's that sound? / Everybody look—what's going down?

—"For What It's Worth," Stephen Stills, Buffalo Springfield