18 July 2016

A cop-killer profile?

This month's two mass shootings of police were carried out by black veterans with an interest in "black nationalist" or "Afrocentric" schools of thought. The Baton Rouge killer -- actually a visitor from Missouri -- recently applied for a name change that reflects an intellectual if not institutional affiliation with a group known as the Ausar Auset Society. Founded in the 1970s, the Society seeks to revive a form of worship of the gods of ancient Egypt, considered by the Society's founder to be African-Americans' authentic cultural heritage. At first glance there's no evidence that the Society encourages violence of any sort, and it should be noted that the shooter appears to be an autodidact who took bits and pieces from many places to construct his own "Cosmo Way." It's interesting that people like the two cop-killers don't turn to one of the orthodox forms of Islam, considering that Islam offers the readiest legitimization of violence on Earth today, but it may be that each man was too close to fighting Muslims during his military service to feel real sympathy for the religion. It may also be that Islam's propaganda of racial equality is insufficient for men as alienated by American racism as these two. Nothing sort of a compensatory fantasy of African supremacy may do for such characters. Perhaps we should be surprised that "Islamic State" sympathizers haven't yet joined the fray against the police, but perhaps embracing Islam at that level dulls one's sense of solidarity with a particular race, your first loyalty being to the umma instead. In any event, how long will we have to wait before someone calls for new or heightened surveillance of "nationalist," "separatist" or "Afrocentric" groups or the dissemination of such ideas in social media? If someone doesn't raise the subject at the Republican convention in Cleveland this week I'd be surprised, given how the prevailing feeling on that side of the party line seems to be that black people have only themselves to blame for any feelings of alienation from American culture they experience. On a contrasting note, here's what a Christian writer had to say on the subject back in February:

Since much of the mistreatment of Blacks [in American history] was done in the name of Christianity, and because many Christian leaders who disagreed with such teachings and treatments were silent during these eras, space was provided for anti-gospel movements to rise up and proselytize people away from the church. Movements such as the Ausar Auset Society, Black Hebrew Israelites, Moorish Science Temple, Nation of Islam, and others gained prominence by juxtaposing the way White Christians treated Blacks and how the pathway to freedom from oppression started with the abandonment of the White Christian God, Jesus and Religion the slave maters imposed upon them.With the current revival of racial tensions in our nation birthing a movement such as #BlackLivesMatter, the aforementioned movements are surfacing once again on our cultural landscape.

The writer, of course, seeks a Christian way out of the problem, but we needn't and shouldn't be so particular. The problem, after all, has less to do with religion than it does with the way society is policed and the way perceptions of black men, as well as a feeling of entitlement among police, influence that. We shouldn't need God, Allah or Auset to straighten that out; if anything they are all counterproductive in a way that requires increased critical attention today.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine any black person feeling kinship to ancient Egypt, considering for most of the various dynastic periods of Egyptian history, the rulers weren't "black" (or at least were not artistically portrayed that way). It makes about as much sense as a "white" Jesus. There is a page on wikipedia that lists the various traditional African religions that we in the West are aware of, broken down by nation/region. It seems to me that would make a more sensible starting point for someone who considers themselves "African" and are seeking some form of spirituality.

Personally, I'd like to see them dig deep in both cases to see if there are any pre-military gang ties.