Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
I am not sure how old I was when I learned that quote, and understood it. Early high school I think. (In my neighbourhood, elementary was grade 1-6, and high school was 7-11.)
The ruling class, the privileged, the citizens of the Capitol if you like (Hunger Games) ride on the coat-tails of the power – and if they so choose – exploit and judge the underclass with freedom from social responsibility or consequence.
In Animal Farm the egalitarian animal dream breaks down and the pigs co-opt the puppies to raise them into a bloodthirsty obedient policing force. Once insulated from retaliation (the side with the teeth/guns wins), those who hold the leash choose the target.
Canada’s primary crime has been, and probably always will be its treatment of the Native Peoples. But there is also no concept of Canadian exceptionalism or infallibility due to favour by God, no national religion of manifest destiny. We are known for being humble, polite, self-effacing and very apologetic – while also being known for hockey goons – and we are aware of the paradox.
We had no civil war, our French and English bicker over secession still, but not in a worrisome way. This month marks 150 years since the end of the American Civil War. Parts of the southern US still openly praise the Confederacy. (From my viewpoint, I compare to Germany and its post-war control over neo-nazism within the country. I find the Confederate fetishization to be just as offensive as the KKK.)
But the U.S. Supreme Court is currently hearing a case about whether to make Texas the 10th state to allow vanity license plates with the stars-and-bars Confederate flag, and a recent Pew Research survey said 36 per cent of Americans deem it appropriate for modern-day public officials to praise Confederate leaders.
American media affects Canada more than any other nation. We are jokingly called America Lite. Next door, so similar, yet not. Longest unguarded border in the world. It is said that the USA is History, and Canada is Geography. We do not tend to go on about documents and persona, but even Canadians that have never left their region usually regale the natural wonders from Sea to Sea to Sea.
Our area is larger, our population always rides about ten percent of the USA. We hug the border (for warmth and television reception). Some Canadians know more about Miranda rights, and pleading the Fifth, than they know about any Canadian legal equivalents. Recently I had to tell a young Canadian, that no, we do not have the death penalty. Their media influences (some of) our perceptions.
All the recent news cycles concern power : white cops over black citizens, men over women. Fifty states, fifty ways to shoot your brother (or is it ways to shoot The Other?). An entrenched racism as enduring as the country itself. Sex tapes, revenge porn, hackers of private images and Seth McFarlane singing I saw your Boobs at the fucking Oscars (still pisses me off years later). If affects those who consume the media uncritically. It sets a low bar, an easy acceptance, especially if it isn’t you.
If you are not black, perhaps you have blocked out, or not cared about Anthony Griffin or Marcellus Francois (Montreal) or Amadou Diallo, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and now Walter Scott.
It takes irrefutable video with all the checkboxes – on camera execution, planting of evidence, absence of care for the wounded or dying man – to finally admit it happens at all. And even this (recorded just after the shooting but prior to the video’s release):
Patrolman Michael Slager appeared to laugh nervously in the discussion with a senior officer after fatally shooting Scott in North Charleston on 5 April. A recording of their conversation was obtained by the Guardian.
“By the time you get home, it would probably be a good idea to kind of jot down your thoughts on what happened,” the senior officer said. “You know, once the adrenaline quits pumping.”
“It’s pumping,” Slager said, laughing. The senior officer replied: “Oh yeah. Oh yeah.”
The senior officer told Slager during the conversation to go home and relax, assuring him that he would not have to answer questions about the shooting for days.
If you are a man, perhaps you have blocked out, or not cared about the hundreds of missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada (is that why Stephen Harper will not act? because he cannot imagine it, because by definition it is not and cannot be him?)
Not all men can even imagine Bill Cosby’s victims, Jian Ghomeshi’s victims, Ray Rice’s wife, Steubenville’s victim, Vanderbilt’s victim or any number of predatory acts upon women and acknowledge that yes, it is because they are women. Women as targets, trophies, possessions, replaceable objects, prey.
And now Hillary Clinton has declared she will run.. Under her own Youtube announcement you will already find the predictable anti-Hillary rhetoric. She is called Killary in FoxNews comments.
If we thought the veiled (and open) racist comments towards Obama were bad, just wait for the misogyny now that she is a serious contender.
If you are able to dismiss the life experiences of large groups of humanity, simply because you don’t identify with that subset, I remind
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.