16 August 2016
The beef that made Milwaukee famous
While the balance of terror has been tipping in Hillary Clinton's favor lately, and no amount of scandal can dissuade millions of America from voting for her, incidents like last weekend's riots in Milwaukee may do more than any Clinton scandal to tip the scales back in Donald Trump's favor somewhat. Milwaukee might be remembered someday as the place where Black Lives Matter jumped the shark -- whether you blame that movement for the riots or only for the protests. The latest "officer-involved shooting" to go national looks a lot more defensible, based on what we know so far, than the other provocative incidents of recent years. This time, the suspect was armed, and while he was fleeing a car stop, he reportedly turned and faced the cop -- also black -- while failing/refusing to drop his weapon. It's hard to know what else the cop could be expected to do, except perhaps to hide. That's no solace to the dead man's family, of course, but the implicit message of the protests and riots is that under no circumstances whatsoever is a cop to kill a black man, except perhaps if the man has fired first. But I imagine that even then a more tribalistic mentality will protest the result so long as nothing can justify the death of one of "our men." Milwaukee may be an exceptional case, so far as protests go, due to the alleged intervention of the Revolutionary Communist Party, also known as the Bob Avakian personality cult. Avakian apparently sees blacks as the proletariat of the moment, ripe for recruitment into his Lenin-style RCP. His people deny responsibility for the rioting, of course, and there's probably some truth to accounts that describe Milwaukee as a powder keg that required but a small spark to ignite. At the same time there's probably little reason to believe that following some new Great Leader and his "line" will solve Milwaukee's problems. On the other hand, that would still be preferable to the alternative implied by one protester who described the desperation in his community to reporters and said, "And you wonder why there's ISIS in America." But no matter how toxic conditions are, I don't think many Americans will find the Milwaukee incident as sufficient a cause for protest, violent or nonviolent, as other shootings have been. There are many justified critics of police brutality and overindulgent rules of engagement who will not agree that every officer-involved shooting is a crime. If a line is to be drawn somewhere limiting police discretion, there also has to be a line drawn limiting our sympathy with career criminals behaving recklessly. We can still wish that police not act as judges and executioners while granting that circumstances can exist that require them to shoot. If some people loudly or violently reject that notion, they only guarantee a backlash that can only benefit Trump. For all I know, that's what people like Avakian really want, on the assumption that a Trump presidency will speed the day of revolution by exacerbating the oppression of the poor. If that's what they want, they'll deserve what they get, but I doubt it'll be the sort of revolution they hope for.