America implodes

posted in: Life and things | 0

Isn’t it amazing? Covid-19 seems to have disappeared. From the news media, anyway.

The pandemic has been displaced by the dreadful sight of America imploding.

One thing about everybody having a camera and the advent of social media is that we can actually see what’s happening out there. Yes, social media can be manipulated and events can be staged. But there’s no stage management in the murder of a handcuffed black man by an American cop, while the officer’s three colleagues turned a blind eye. It has happened before, plenty of times. Back in 1991 a camera recorded the savage beating of Rodney King. The four police officers who dealt the blows were acquitted – and that’s when the Los Angeles riots started.

Watching the riots from halfway around the world, it can be difficult to determine what’s true and what’s fabricated. Sure, there has been looting. But that’s looters taking advantage of the protests – and looters were often white as I am – they were shown on TV. An Australian TV news crew was attacked by police, with the reporter being struck on the back with a baton as she tried to get away. And the people gathered outside the White House were peaceful protesters. Nevertheless, Donald Trump ordered an assault on them to clear Lafayette Square so he could cross the road for a photo op.

I’ll bet I wasn’t the only one who immediately thought of the massacre at Tiananmen Square, when the Chinese Communist Party turned its military on its own people, almost exactly forty-one years ago.

The year 2020 has been like a loaded pressure cooker. The pandemic has led to the closure of public places and restrictions on travel. Businesses and schools have been forced to close. The virus has hit hard, especially in New York City, with over one hundred thousand dead. Americans must now wear masks in public. Many have lost their jobs or their businesses. The US doesn’t have the kind of safety nets we do in Australia. There are millions wondering how to pay their rent, put food on the table, or pay medical expenses while home-schooling their kids. All the while, the pressure builds and privileged people complain they can’t get their nails done – brandishing weapons in support of their ‘rights’. Here’s a nice comparison of protest signs.

And then George Floyd is murdered by a cop and the lid blows off the pressure cooker.

I hope cooler heads prevail. One of Trump’s military advisers has resigned over the unwarranted attack on protestors outside the White House. Two senior church leaders have condemned the action and statements have been made by former presidents George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama, reported here. Retired General James Mattis, Trump’s Secretary for Defense until he resigned, has made a statement condemning the actions. Numerous other ex-military or ex-police personnel have also had their say.

This isn’t going to go away. Things have to change in America. Eminent astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson was moved to write an essay about his own experience growing up as a black man in New York. Here’s a short excerpt. It’s well worth reading the whole thing.

Since childhood my parents instilled in me and my siblings, via monthly, sometimes weekly lessons, rules of conduct to avoid getting shot by the Police. “Make sure that when you get stopped, the officer can always see both of your hands.” “No sudden movements.” “Don’t reach into your pockets for anything without announcing this in advance”. “When you move at all, tell the officer what you are about to do.”” Reflections on the colour of my skin

Yes indeed, we live in Interesting Times.

Back in Australia, we’ve kind of opened up – except for state borders. We’re able to travel the length and breadth of this huge state. We can head off up the road a thousand clicks or two, although I admit I’m not sure what the story is regarding public toilets, roadhouse amenities, and so forth. And there’s plenty to see. Here’s a few pics of the places we’ve been.

Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island
A summer storm over Port Douglas in Far North Queensland
Pink and grey galahs in the trees at Winton
Cobbold Gorge, an unexpected water source in the Outback
A road between the towering trees of the rain forest
Rain forest in the table lands

And that’s just a sample of what’s out there. Stay safe – especially my American friends. The expression has a double meaning now.

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