Sunday, September 25, 2011

The State Being the State

I wake up to NPR in the morning.  This might have to change, as I realized that this last week my first word every morning was a curse word.  They keep giving air time to life destroyers, right about quarter to six, and my cursing them out first thing when I wake up does not actually communicate with them; it just makes me unhappy.

Anyway, it's been a long week of the state being the state, its inherent violence out in full force, its lack of "by the people for the people" qualities on display, the state as a mechanism for the preservation of privilege exposed.

On Wednesday night, late, the State of Georgia murdered Troy Davis.  Despite very strong evidence that the man was innocent of the murder they convicted him of, evidence that most certainly established a reasonable doubt, a poison filled his blood, and he died with many witnesses to the indignity of death.  The Law spoke, and no reasonable people, no kindness, no mercy could halt that death.  Of course there were those who could have stopped the murder--judges, juries, the governor of Georgia--but they hid behind legal proceedings, and said, no, we have done what we can, the execution must go on.   The power of the State must triumph over any remaining concerns about innocence. 

I thought about my students who are black males, who are at so much higher risk than the rest of my students of being murdered by their government. My vivacious, bright, talented students--Troy Davis could have been one of them.  No One should be murdered by their government.  I remember, again, today, that our Lord Jesus Christ was the innocent victim of capital punishment. He calls us from the cross to resist, to protest, to fight until the state can kill no one else, especially not in his name.  We must not forsake those under threat of death.

Meanwhile, a court in California has ruled that ten Muslim students protesting at a speech by the Israeli ambassador were not exercising their right to free speech, but instead violating the Israeli ambassador's right to be heard.  Dang. Why can't people not in positions of power have a right to be heard?  I would love a right to be heard.  My students would love a right to be heard. How odd that it's never been established for teachers or students or working people.

You may or may not have heard that there are people occupying Wall Street in a well-intentioned attempt to bring attention to the shame and guilt of greed.  I think the concept is great--oh, if only, if only progressive elements could ever learn how to organize--but anyway several of them were arrested for non-violent protest.  It's not the fault of individual police, they are caught in the immoral apparatus of the state, enforcing laws and non-laws that society needs to preserve the power of the wealthy.

And, finally, here in Brownbackistan, the SRS (Social and Rehabilitative Services) has announced some changes to benefit calculations.  One of their most astounding actions is a new policy of offering $1000 to families in exchange for them agreeing not to apply for public aid for a year.   In other words, buying off the poor to go away for a while.  Who in a desperate situation will not accept $1000?  And how many children will go hungry from the food assistance they won't be getting?  For people who claim to be rooting out fraud, this seems like an action designed to encourage fraud--change aid for food, housing, medical work, etc., for a wad of undesignated cash.  Then, if/when that money is not spent "well, " they can use that example to say the poor are lazy and don't deserve help, another excuse to direct invective at the vulnerable.

I suppose everyone already knows that Brownback endorsed Rick Perry for governor, and that he said he wants to make Kansas more like Texas.  All I can hope is that he meant he wanted a more racially and linguistically diverse population, right?  Right?  Not that he wanted us to lead the country in minimum-wage jobs, executions, and people without access to health care.  I'm sure that is not what he meant.

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