On Thursday, seven armed and violent right wing extremists were acquitted after being charged with seizing a government building and occupying it for weeks while promising to kill anyone that tried to remove them.
A lot of people are outraged at this display of white privilege and while it’s undeniable that privilege played a large role in this, the politics of the the armed thugs was more important than their color. In America, protesting while unarmed and liberal can get you arrested, beaten or killed. Protesting while armed and conservative gets you celebrity and a pass by the legal system.
Consider the initial Bundy debacle in Nevada. A group of white men with weapons threatened a war if the authorities didn’t withdraw from public land. The authorities capitulated and ignored the incident for over a year until the same group illegally seized government property, again threatening to murder any law enforcement that tried to arrest them.
Meanwhile, the Occupy protests were met with violence and mass arrests all over the country. The police regularly turn ordinary neighborhoods into war zones when black people without guns protest. People have taken to live streaming the events at Standing Rock so there’s a record of how non-violent protesters are violently treated by an overzealous police force defending the rights of an oil company to seize tribal lands.
So what’s the difference? Sure, the North Dakota standoff involves Native Americans and the police live to terrorize black neighborhoods. But the Occupy protests were very white. And none of these protests openly brandished weapons or threatened to murder cops. Do the guns really provide a measure of protection?
To answer that question, try to imagine the Occupy protesters being heavily armed. Or any black protesters. Or the Native Americans at Standing Rock. Is it believable that the police would back down? Of course not, they would charge in, gun ablazing.
It’s painfully obvious that although America is a liberal leaning nation, the powers that be only tolerate criticism from the right. It’s safe and harmless to complain about mean ol’ Big Government because shrinking it benefits the rich and powerful. Conservative anti-government protesters are the 1%’s “useful idiots”.
But criticism from the left? That invites all kinds of trouble in the form of regulations and the inability to profit from the suffering of the little people. That shit has to get nipped in the bud right quick lest it get out of hand.
Americans had to spill a lot of their own blood to beat the Robber Barons into submissions and curtail their greed. Since then, the new Barons have captured so much of our government that protesting against their greed is viewed as a threat to be violently stamped out. This doesn’t mean the entire system is corrupt and has to be burned to the ground but it does mean that we’re at war against the rich and powerful for control of our country.
The upside is that there are far more of us then there are of them and while they have the money, we, ultimately, have the power. If we remember how to use it.
The downside is that as we exercise that power, the 1%’s useful idiots, the militias, the neo-Naizs, the KKK, etc., will receive their marching orders to spread violence in the name of “freedom”. It will never occur to these puppets that their “freedom” looks suspiciously like being controlled by the powerful.
As they intimidate and murder their way through the country, they will find willing accomplices in the media who will refuse to call them domestic terrorists and essentially ignore stories of foiled domestic terrorist plots. Law enforcement will do its part to turn a blind eye as well, spending only a fraction of the effort to infiltrate these groups as they do to spy on Muslims and progressive groups.
The last time the right wing militancy was so emboldened, they were only curtailed when one of their number blew up a building with children inside. Who knows how many will have to die this time for the country to push back?