Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Black Lives Really do Matter

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

The Republican response to the rising "black lives matter" movement was to label it racist and anti-police - and to counter with "all lives matter."   Sanctimony aside, all lives do matter, but if the gun-toting, flag-waving, saber-rattling hard right edge of the Republican Party had believed that all along, there would be no need for the current emphasis on black lives mattering.   Black lives really haven't mattered to to the basest of the GOP base in over fifty years.  They wrote that vote off long ago, and with it any and all responsibility for the safety, health, and welfare of black Americans.  The only responsibility that segment of society felt toward black Americans was the responsibility to police them and keep them "in their place."  Black lives were not a pressing concern of many in the once proud party of Lincoln.

When the "black lives matter" movement began to take hold, primarily as a response to brutal police assaults on young black people, many of which ended in death for protest behaviors and crimes against property, the Republican response was to obfuscate, to bury the issue in a tsunami of right-wing ravings, to make it an us-against-them thing.

Then this water crisis happened in Flint, Michigan.  The city's population, largely black, had it's relatively safe water supply interrupted by a Republican governor and his administration and replaced with one that was dangerously unsafe - a water supply that exposed the population and many children to high levels of lead contamination.  It took nearly two years for the state officials of Michigan to even admit that there was a problem, much less one of such critical and deadly proportions.

One of the oversight committees of the current Republican Congress held a meeting to look at the situation in Flint, but that committee failed to either subpoena or invite Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, a Republican, to testify.  When angry Democrats on the committee issued a minority invitation to the governor, he declined due to a prior appointment.  The governor obviously had something more pressing that dying Michiganders on his calendar.

Now it falls to Democrats, once again, to point out that black lives also matter.  Bernie Sanders called on Governor Snyder to do the right thing and resign.  True, that wasn't much of a response to the crisis - and it is a crisis of epic proportions - but it was something - and more than has been voiced by any of the Republican presidential contenders who are, by-and-large, ignoring the issue entirely.

Hillary Clinton moved past the vocal outrage - though she had plenty of that - to actually making a trip to Flint to view the man-made disaster first hand.  Her staff has been working with the staff of Flint's mayor for several weeks in a common effort to determine how much harm has been done and to seek solutions.  Mrs. Clinton is behaving very presidential - and, of course, her efforts are not going unobserved by the state's Republican politicians, cretins who have risen in righteous anger to declare that Hillary is "politicizing" the situation.   Well, yes she is.  Politics created this poisonous problem, and it will absolutely take politics to fix it.

(And not to give President Obama a pass - he should be out walking the streets of Flint as well.  But as soon as our black President comes to town, out come the pick-up trucks with the Confederate flags, gun-rights morons, Fox News reporters, and every other clown in the circus - all stoking the old us-against-them fears of white America - and strengthening the hand of the politicians who created the problem in the first place.  Obama undoubtedly senses that he can get more done by staying away.)

The shouting about "politicizing" and "all" lives mattering is meant to do little more than take the onus off of the bigots.  Children are dying at the hands of overzealous policemen, and children are dying as a result of calculated decisions by politicians - and more often than not those children are black.  And those lost lives cannot be overlooked or swept aside simply because of the color of the victim's skin.  Black lives really do matter.

1 comment:

Xobekim said...

I am certain Governor Rick Snyder is too busy lying to Michigan to be bothered to go to Washington and lie to the Congress. The penny wise pound foolish mentality of austerity, of cutting government to the bone (especially in communities of color), and of destroying the once going concerns of state and local governments to make them easy pickings for privatization is beginning to be shown for what it is, treason.

The logical consequence of lower taxation, primarily at the top echelons of society, is that the beast will be starved to death. Nice concept for those playing a video game about the end of times; abject stupidity for the rest of us trying to live in the first world. The beast being killed is our schools, our water works, our public power plants (where they even exist anymore), our roads, highways, bridges, and our moral obligations to the poorest among us. Lost along the way are American jobs that provide those necessary elements of modern life and the economic stimulus those jobs create.

Meanwhile the rich are getting richer because they have bought the Congress as well as the legislatures of many of the states, and rigged tax policy. At the local level, where the rubber really meets the road, diminished income from the state means higher sales and property taxes.

In a case like Flint the problem is exacerbated because representative government has been replaced by administrative tyranny. The tax policies that starve local governments of revenue combine with the institutionalized racism known as white flight and the wholesale deportation of the manufacturing base which leaves places like Flint mostly jobless. To finish the kill the state of Michigan tosses out the elected leadership of local communities and installs its version of Pontius Pilate, that is to say a promagistrate not beholden to the electorate. In the name of squeezing the maximum amount of fertilizer from every buffalo nickel the administrator slays the beast of local government. So what if it is going to cost billions to replace the infrastructure and care for the children whose lives have been permanently damaged by lead poisoning, the promagistrate has saved a dime. That is penny wise and pound foolish.

It is not fair that the rich pay the same rate of regressive taxes as the poor because the percentage of wealth taken from the rich is de minimis, a trifling matter. Those same taxes on the poor force decisions on whether to buy food or pay rent, or fill the prescription, or pay the insurance, or fix the car. Those regressive taxes now rise to the level of being confiscatory; perhaps violating the takings clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

The road to austerity leads to failure.