Jacob Blake and the Revolution

Jacob Blake Protestor

Wednesday morning, I woke up to the news that there would be no charges filed against the officers responsible for paralyzing Jacob Blake, including one officer who shot at his back seven times (four shots him him). It was sad but not surprising. The truth is, as a society, we’ve decided that blue lives matter more than anyone else’s. But I didn’t have a lot of time to think about the problems we face with policing and racism because reactionaries stormed the Capitol.

Contrast in Black and White

It was quite a contrast. On one hand you have an unarmed black man facing away from an officer shot in the back. And on the other, the Capitol Police were shockingly nice and accommodating to people who were literally staging a revolution.

Many people have noted that had the insurgents been black or brown, the police would have sprayed them with bullets. Clearly, this is racial. But it is more than that. It is about affinity.

If there had been a bunch of white people there storming the capital in the name of social justice or other liberal causes, I believe there would have been more shooting. Certainly not as many had they been black. But still a lot.

Police and Military Affinity

This is a major problem in the United States. Just as in the Jim Crow South, the police are on the wrong side of history. Police tend to be more conservative — especially when it comes to how society ought to police itself. (I’m sure that a large number of officers did go into policing because they wanted to help people. The problem is what they mean by “help people.”)

Traditionally, authoritarians gain power because the military backs them. Right now we don’t have to worry about that because Trump is not that popular in the army — and distinctly unpopular among the officer corps. But what about next time? What about when someone like Trump comes around who’s much better at talking to and about the military?

Another issue is the 147 Congressional Republicans who objected to the presidential election results even after the attack on the Capitol. I have no doubt that almost all the Republicans would have been for throwing out electoral votes if they had control of both chambers of Congress. It’s just that some were smart enough to know they couldn’t actually steal the election so it wasn’t worth putting out their necks.

Whose Votes Matter?

I don’t pretend to have much affinity with conservatives. They’re mostly people who lack empathy and don’t care about facts or knowledge. But I do share enough affinity with them to realize that they are human beings with different beliefs who vote differently than I do. And I understand that in a democracy their voices must be heard.

The issue with racism is that it allows people to see others as less human. As less valid. I don’t think that his supporters actually believe that Trump got more votes in the election. I think they believe that Trump got the most votes from the kind of people who matter.

So the responses to the attack on the Capitol and to Jacob Blake are the perfect contrast of what’s wrong in this country today and, well, let’s face it, forever.


Jacob Blake Protestor by Becker1999 under CC BY 2.0.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

8 thoughts on “Jacob Blake and the Revolution

  1. The US military is probably the most successful racial-equality hiring program America’s ever had. If you play by its insane rules, you will get promoted, and while there’s tons of racism in it (who gets assigned to the cruddiest/most dangerous posts), Colin Powell can become Chairman Of The Joint Chiefs Of Staff. It’s certainly less prejudiced than most corporate hierarchies I’m aware of.

    Not to softsell the massive racism up in there. My brother was in the Navy and said aircraft carriers were basically floating race riots. Most instigated, as usual, by proto-skinhead white loonies. He said it wasn’t too bad when the boats were on tour, a stop here, a stop there. But an active war zone, you plunk down anchor in the Gulf somewhere for six months. And everybody wants to murder everybody.

    The funny thing (or odd, or ironic) is this brother joined the Navy at 16 to escape an abusive parent (our Dad, who had… issues). He immediately gets stuck in Iraq War I. Years later, he’s looking to go back to college, he thought “well, I didn’t mind the taking orders part, just the stressful war part,” so he joins the Army for college money help. And immediately gets stuck in Iraq War II! He won’t talk about that one. Nor will I pry. I can read Danny Sjursen, that’s enough.

    Point being, an authoritarian-leaning President who constantly talks s**t about Black and Hispanic people is going to have some real issues with getting support from the rank and file. They’ll get some (it seems like half every mad bomber/shooter is ex-military), yet they’ll get a lot more who aren’t fans of the gross racial insults and grumble “you salute the uniform, not the man.”

    Side note — I wanna know where the tradition of Presidents saluting troop members on the tarmac of Air Force One started. Because it’s completely wrong! Everybody with even the slightest military experience knows you only salute with your “cover” on (AKA, hat), and you only wear your “cover” outdoors. So hatless Presidents saluting troops is wrong (although it’s correct for them to salute Presidents, and they always have hats). The Presidents should shake their hands, instead. What’s the point of arbitrary rules if people don’t follow them!

    • This goes along with something I’ve been harping on these last 4 years: Reagan was every bit as big a norms buster as Trump. It was Reagan who started saluting because he had a Hollywood idea of the presidency. And every president has followed because to not do so would cause the usual suspects to howl, “Disrespect!”

      When it became the thing to constantly thank military members for their service, I heard some reporting that greatly increased my opinion of people in the military: a lot of them hated being thanked for their service. They thought it was facile and meaningless. I’d feel the same way. In fact I do about similar things in my own life. It’s also similar to all the assholes who live around me who hang American flags outside their houses years at a time. “Hey everyone: I felt patriotic for an hour several years ago!”

      Clearly, any institution in America is going to have racial problems. But the military is the only big one I can think of that has done a good job fighting it.

      • Thank you! That “saluting without hat” thing has been driving me bonkers for decades.

        Makes perfect sense that it would be Reagan. He claimed, later, that he’d served in WWII. He had not. He did promo appearances for war bonds, he was never in the military.

        It would not surprise me the slightest, however, if in Reagan’s fogged-up mind, he thought that he had been in the military. He was pretty loopy at the end.

        • Yeah, he may have thought so. If we had the date he said it, we could probably tell. I recall reading something that WWII was good for his career because he got a lot of work that would have gone to younger actors who were serving. I don’t know.

  2. As an example of Trump just thinking about votes from “the kind of people who matter”:

    President Trump on Thursday falsely claimed that more women voted for him than for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.

    While touting the economic growth that has taken place during his administration, the president said to steelworkers in Granite City, Ill., that he “got more than she did” referring to the number of votes he received from women.

    “But I did win that women’s vote, didn’t I?” Trump said. “Remember, they said, ‘Why would women vote for Trump?’ Well, I don’t know but I got more than she did. That’s pretty good.”

    In fact, Trump received 41 percent of the female vote in the 2016 election. He did receive a majority of the vote, 52 percent, among white women. His numbers were much lower among women of color.

    https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/399082-trump-inaccurately-claims-he-won-the-female-vote-in-2016-election

    I think he’d been told he’d won the white female vote, and is racist enough for that to have sunk in as the “proper” female vote.

    • 52 and 41 — that’s a big difference! 52/48 in any US election is a decisive win. 41/59, you’re nearing blowout territory. To put it in baseball terms, if you’re GM of a team that went 66-96, with tons of money spent on the roster, you’d best be updating your resume.

      Great comment!

      • I think we see this a lot. Things are close in this country, but only because of our diversity. If only men voted, Republicans would always win; if only women, Democrats would. If only white voted, Republicans would always win; if only non-whites, Democrats would. And so on. It’s sad to think what it is white men are voting for…

    • Awesome insight! I read that same reporting but I just filed it under “Trump Lies.” You’re absolutely right!

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