Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Bitter Harvest of Strange Fruit

The world noticed the history of the events in Ferguson. Even Palestinians, accustomed to surviving under military occupation, tweeted advice to Ferguson protesters about how to deal with tear gas, even as Israeli air strikes were demolishing Gaza and killing thousands of Palestinian civilians. Hong Kong protesters, who began their pro-democracy demonstrations more than a month after Brown's killing, adopted the " hands up, don't shoot" as a tactic in homage to the Ferguson protesters.
Countries that the US has often accused of human rights abuses seized on what seemed to be a moment of glaring hypocrisy. North Korea called the US “a graveyard of human rights” where “people are subject to discrimination and humiliation due to their race, and are in constant fear that they may get shot at any moment."
China’s state news agency Xinhua published an editorial saying the US had “much room for improvement at home” and that it should “concentrate on solving its own problems rather than always pointing fingers at others.” And Egypt, sounding more like the United Nations than like a country that routinely kills protesters, called on the US to respect demonstrators' rights of assembly.
As the world reacted to the grand jury announcement not to indict Darren Wilson, people all over the planet reacted and tried to express why it matters to them. I admit, I am one of the cynics who never expected anything other than this verdict from the grand jury. The process was rigged from the start.
The trouble is that the United States, for far longer than it has been a “nation of laws”, has been a nation of injustice. And in the absence of basic justice such laws can amount to little more than codified tyranny. When a white cop, Darren Wilson, shoots an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, dead and then is not indicted, the contradiction is glaring. For a world where it is not only legal for people to shoot you dead while you walk down the street, but where they can do so in the name of the law, is one in which some feel they have nothing to lose. And, in the words of James Baldwin: “There is nothing so dangerous as a man who has nothing to lose. You do not need 10 men. Only one will do.”From Israel, Elizabeth Tsurkov sees parallels in law enforcement tactics and the treatment of Palestinians and African Americans:
So about Ferguson, in Israel we're going through something very similar. People focus on the occupation when they think of Israel, but we have other problems too. Israeli police has been caught on tape assaulting unarmed civilians who had angered them. A lot of that violence and even torture in detention is directed toward Palestinian citizens of Israel. Recently, a video surfaced of police shooting a Palestinian-Israeli man who attempted to assault their vehicle with a knife, but he was shot when he was walking away from the car and posed no danger. This caused a huge uproar among Palestinians in Israel and Israel witnessed riots and protests just like after Ferguson. Just like in the U.S., police brutality and racism intertwine and in both countries, cops get away with violence against minorities. I think that unless racism is addressed in the general society, nothing will change.

From Greece, Asteris Masouras recalls crackdowns on Greek protesters:
Police killings of unarmed youths everywhere reverberate with Greek audiences, because of the killing of Alexandros Grigoropoulos in December 2008, which sparked month-long protests and riots, and resulted in the life imprisonment in the officer who fired the lethal shot. Militarized policing and police brutality, especially, as well as the "limited" curtailment of constitutional rights over protests, as seen in Ferguson in the past few months are also familiar, recalling scenes from Keratea, Skouries, and most recently Athens' Exarchia district. Greek youths see the same tactics deployed by "their" state against them propagated around the world, and no prospect of justice without protest, no prospect of peace without justice. 

Yiannis Baboulias, also from Greece, now living in London, sees Ferguson as part of a larger global story of state repression:
What really shocked me and many others abroad were the images of the police, when they decided to show up in military gear and point sniper rifles and automatic weapons at people simply protesting. It points to a great lesson about inequality and poverty: that not only it is the main drive of how policing impacts on the everyday life of poor people (in this case, murder), but also the lengths to which they will now go to make sure dissent out in the streets is not tolerated. Militarisation of the police to such an extent, would not be tolerated in a society in which an underclass hasn't been accepted as a permanent feature, which is unfortunately the case with the US and other Western democracies.

Shireen Ahmed, from Canada, forcefully argues that that Ferguson pulls back a veil of hypocrisy in the United States when it comes to human rights, law, and equality.
Beginning with the senseless death of Mike Brown, it has been angering to watch the events unfold in Ferguson. Protestors are villified; groups in solidarity are being accused of co-opting the calls for truth and justice, and gun sales in the region have risen dramatically ahead of Grand Jury decision warning of imminent violence. America claims to hold "freedom" in the highest regard. Yet, it stomps through much of the world, under the guise of protecting said freedoms, while exploiting resources and turning a blind eye to humanity that doesn't profit. Meanwhile, at home it allows the killings of innocent black men and continuing systems of institutionalized racism through police brutality is almost laughable. American "freedom" is laughable.

And Ana Zárraga from Venezuela:
"I have been following Ferguson since protests erupted in August. Couldn't believe that the country that wants to champion freedom of speech abroad, has allowed the excessive use of force by police against protesters.
People have the right to grieve and demand justice in a system that they perceive as unfair. They have the right to spark a long-overdue debate on race, policing and justice in America".

San Francisco-based Canadian Sana Saeed thinks Ferguson is a watershed moment when it comes to this race, policing, and justice:
Ferguson is a watershed moment; it's not just about the murder of Mike Brown but about a culture and system of brutality and violence towards people of color — especially Blacks, for whom the modern Us prison and police system was meant to enslave. Ferguson is about rising up against that and pushing towards real justice, real reconciliation and ending the silence on this violent pandemic.I'm following it because that very same system of enslavement and oppression of Black Americans is what also continues to churn the culture and system of Islamophobia in the United States.

There you have it. Many voices from many places with one message: Ferguson is about global justice, not just justice in the United States. The erosion of America's moral position to influence what goes on in other countries damages the rights of the rest of the world. We are not qualified to call ourselves a leader. Again, it emphasizes the corruption and the hacking of the Concept of a Democratic Republic. 200 years ago, America was a noble experiment. The Republic was a revolutionary idea founded on noble principles. It has survived many attacks from with out and within. The adage, "What ever doesn't kill you, makes you stronger" seemed to be our motto...only, today, the attacks from with in, the multiple viruses of greed,  the exploitation of self righteous hate and our own inability to deal with our own tragic history seem to have combined to deliver a fatal blow. An endemic systemic disease from which we may never recover. 
Last Night In Ferguson. America, You Broke It, Now You Gonna Have To Buy It!
No Justice, No Peace!

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