Roland Martin: America Must Face the Reality that it is at War With Itself


by Roland Martin

Racial mistrust, military tactics against citizens, dissent quashed. Is this America? Well, yes.

Who knew that the police actions in a suburb of St. Louis of 15,000 people would suddenly reveal many of the deep fissures that have bedeviled America for a long time? 

Front and center, of course, is the issue of race, a constant in America since it decided to break away from the British Empire and to stand on its own 238 years ago. There is the tension over the militarization of local police, which has performed the amazing hat trick of uniting liberals, conservatives, and libertarians behind the notion that America has lost its damn mind. And finally, there is the trampling of the First Amendment when cops find that it is judicious and no one will care as long as the folks they are attacking are seen as worthless lawbreakers.

It’s cute to think of the United States as a nation that has its stuff together and doesn’t have to contend with the kind of fighting in Israel and the Gaza Strip or the battles being waged in Iraq. No, Americans aren’t setting up IEDs and car bombs, or kidnapping hundreds of girls. But we are a nation at war with itself, and it plays out again and again when a Ferguson or a Bundy Ranch becomes a staple on cable news.

Race. Enough with that post-racial crap. That was a media-driven line that never was real and was stupid in the first place. We have been long taught that the issue of race and slavery came to a boil when Abraham Lincoln was elected president, but Gerald Horne argues in The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America, that the question of slavery was a driving force behind the Revolutionary War. Horne argues that with the abolition of slavery coming to fruition in England and among other British colonial holdings, the American colonies wanted to maintain the lucrative slave trade and thus chose to go to war in order to do so.

Ever since, America has grappled with its race problem, so it’s not shock that Ferguson, Mo., a once all-white enclave, would all of a sudden be still dealing with race now that the city is two-thirds Black.

Yes, Michael Brown was an 18-year-old black teenager shot and killed by a white Ferguson police officer. But the animosity between the community and law enforcement is nothing new.

The family of Eric Garner is still trying to ascertain why a NYPD police officer used a banned chokehold to take him down, leading to his death.

In Los Angeles this week, Ezell Ford was gunned down, and he, like Brown, was unarmed.

This feeling of anger and dissension between the police and African Americans is nothing new, and it’s not going to get better any time soon.

Even Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, who has made outreach to African Americans a cornerstone of his efforts the last several months, sees the connection.

“Anyone who thinks that race does not still, even if inadvertently, skew the application of criminal justice in this country is just not paying close enough attention,” Paul wrote in an essay for Time: “Our prisons are full of black and brown men and women who are serving inappropriately long and harsh sentences for non-violent mistakes in their youth.”

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SOURCE: The Daily Beast

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