Of swans and coots
I use to hang out at a pond not far from my flat here in Kreuzberg, Berlin. I spend my afternoons there, practising guitar or just gazing at the wide, squared water surface. In its very center, it stands a little wooden platform hosting an even smaller wooden house, that works as a shelter for the place's winged population.
The feathered census counts some mallards, a couple of swans and one of coots, both pair taking care of five younglings each. Whenever I take a break from my stringed studies, I observe with interest their liquid wanderings: the swans escort their offspring in a regal fashion, one parent leading the parade and the other sealing it, with the five soft grey furry balls in between.
They leave their centric residence for a tour around the perimeter of the pool, reaching out for some protruding grass sprouts, waiting for some human being feeding them breadcrumbs.
The coot family behaves way more chaotically, frantically crawling the water without formation. The little black ones are lovely in their ugliness, with their sparse hair, their crimson beaks, their unceasing quacking.
When the swans are around, the coots try to settle into the shelter. Once the swans are back, one of them bullies the poor coots out. The scene repeats twice or thrice daily, at least during my presence.
I pointed out to myself, with no revolutionary claim of course, how the birds of the pond were a chromatically faithful scaled representation of human society.
I could not have wondered how relevant and current would they have been just a couple of days after the last time I had them.
The self-proclaimed more advanced country in the world has been theatre of an brutal and gratuitous act of violence, perpetrated by a police officer against a black man. The event circumstances are dystopic. Yet we live in an era where no amount of description can beat visive evidence, everybody can watch and live again the thing thanks to bystander's video proof.
The narrative paradox is cruelly interesting: if anybody would have interfered with the officer's conduct, we wouldn't have got the news at all probably, outside of some local report. Who would have risked their lives against unresponsive policemen, just begging for a bullet? Even worse, who would have expected that an arrest procedure would have led directly to a death?
While somebody might have asked themselves such questions, it was too late for George Floyd. Some blue dressed human (?) being had already decided that his life had to come to an end.
We are all pretty used to the ad hoc narrative produced in these cases. They try with all means to depict the event as the exception, by filling the air with smoke of fallacy. Let me dissipate some of it for you:
we do not know the full story
Looks like the policemen did not know either, but they did not think twice about committing murder. If they have been given the benefit of acting without inquiring, who are we to be denied of the same privilege?
the victim and the attacker did know each other before
This does not justify murder under the rule of law, let alone from an unprovoked officer on duty. This tries to put the cause on personal frictions. Policemen represent the law. If they fail at their job, the whole State fails.
the victim did not actually die out of the violence, but due to underlying health conditions
This tactic is quite used in Italy as well, and I find it the most disgusting. People get beaten by the police, and then die somewhen later in the hospital. They say it is because they smoked a joint two days before. First, violence does not need to end in murder in order to be condemned or reported. You do not measure the outcome of it, but the intention. If I shoot somebody and miss the target, I still tried to kill them, even without producing physical harm.
The underlying conditions were there before, and the victim was alive. You do not need to have the logical skills of Frege to work out what the cause of death is. This is utterly vile blame-shifting, but you all know how the broken record goes. The skirt was too short. The guy was too African and too less American. The needle stays stuck.
Regarding the ongoing subsequent events:
violence does not justify riot and looting
What justifies what now? If police betrays the contract, any kind of justification system breaks down. There are no rules anymore. Ex falso quodlibet. Every single event may take place. The Constitution, the federal laws, the municipal law, your condo rules. They become toilet paper.
If you want people to adhere to principles and to behave soundly, you have to lead by example. People can commit mistakes. They have to pay for them.
if people would have stayed home, they wouldn't have been injured by the police
Human rights do not rain from the clouds. History shows that you have to fight for them. To fight involves violence and risk. Everybody would love to sit around a table and discuss points instead of losing an eye on the streets, but it is too late because all the delegation representative system is broken, people are unheard – actually, they've never been – and it is about time that they shatter everything in order to defend themselves.
it the victim were white, nobody would be on the streets
You may not know. Still, it would be your right to demonstrate, snowflake.
The main triggering act was not escalation or a deviation from the rules due to excessive defense. This has been violence in its purest form. Violence not of a single person against a single one (or better four against one, if you can count), but rather the squeeze of a whole slice of society against another, poorer one. Io so' io, e voi...nun sete un cazzo – I am sorry but I am I, and you...you are less than shit – is one of the most famous italian cinema quotes.
Rotten apples, they say. Why can't I be a rotten apple? They would fire me on the spot if I would mess it up on my work. Do you think the medical workforce may feature unhealthy fruits? Would you accept it as an answer if a doctor would remove the wrong kidney from your significant one? Who the fuck was picking from the tree in the very first place?
Let me tell you something: the one acting was the cream of the crop, the model, the dream of power enforcement. Acting merciless with no emotion display, capable of repeating the same act on scale without hesitation.
Such action is trained. Think about how long it takes for you to choose from two different brands of the same product when navigating through aisles of supermarkets. Now think how long it would take to pick the right decision in a context of police arrest: should I use force or not? Should I interfere with my colleagues if they are doing something I find unfair? Should I put my safety first, or the person's I am dealing with? By the time you have written an essay about the topic, either they fled away or you camarades already handcuffed him.
This is EXACTLY how things are supposed to be. Things are enforced, well, with force. In the grand scheme of thing, he deserves a medal. Because the whole state of things is held by the police. Ideas cannot rule per se, somebody has to explain them with the aid of bullets and tear gas. People in fancy suits can enact wordy laws because somebody is allowed to beat your ass if you do not respect them. You don't need a shelf stocked with Nobel prizes to know that some asses are in less danger because more connected with legislation.
Every single riot act in response is not just justified and deserved, but utterly needed. Who wants to live in a world where the lives of the weakest can be disposed of on a whim? Who ensures me that tomorrow it won't be me?
Every time violence goes unspoken, the whole humankind fails.
I have never been to the U.S. and it looks like my visit is not going to happen any soon. I do not claim to have any deep understanding of their society. But I do know enough of modern history to analyse the events outside of the lens of rage. We always see history under the distorted hope that we left the past behind. The dark ages of barbarism. Eye for an eye. Even though the 20th century was the bleakest of all. What makes us think that things got actually better? Just because one slice of the world gets a regular paycheck and can read bullshit on a tiny screen, it doesn't mean we evolved.
Discrimination in all its forms – racism, xenophobia, ableism, sexism, homophobia, in no particular order – is a totally unfair disease, because the ones suffering from it are not those that should take the remedy. You can act and protest and spread good ideas as much as you want, but bigotry and ignorance are so rooted in most people, that no amount of action not affecting them directly is expected to bring any result.
Everybody indulging in such ideas is AFRAID, because they have been left alone by the state itself. They have no education. They are afraid that gay/black/foreign/disabled (!) people may be a threat to them. Because they are brainwashed 24/7 by TV/social media, because they see models of unmeetable expectations of look and wealth display. You should be fit and handsome and sport a car and a house and abundance of food. You should have someone as perfect as you by your side, and hatch descendants as cute as the little swans of my lake. You would if only those black barking coots bastards won't try to break into your cabin.
Through this legion of white trash, the middle class included, big invisible companies perpetuate their profits. Until the poor are busy fighting the poorer, they won't notice the knee on their neck. Even now that it literally happened, things will stay the same. It takes more than a few disorders to eradicate such a smooth mechanism.
We should aim at the throat of it, bite until the canines join each other in a triumph of blood. We have the power of choosing where our money goes. We do not need to buy 99% of what we buy. We do not need new fancy clothes. We do not need a new car. We do not need a new phone or TV. Stop buying everything out of basic needs, and the system will collapse. Let them figure out a new way of surviving.
It is going to be hard. I see people lining out of non-first necessity goods stores, even in these times. People find buying a new pair of cheap trousers more valuable than lowering the health risks of their country. Because they do not own the cognitive tools to figure it out themselves. They have enough of this shit, i.e. to spend some time at home, while people are sleeping in a dirty sack next to the mall entrance.
As long as even a single person lives under the dignity threshold, there is no room for privilege in this world. Society is rot to the bone, and we are all accountable to some degree. We should take our time, and commit to some daily actions that can take us out of the mud.
It is going to be hard. People earn money, and they feel entitled to do whatever they want with it. They buy toxic food, produced in ways that destroy the planet ecosystem. They dream of useless luxury items that in their minds would make them look cooler and more accepted. They are not able to tell the cover from the back of a book. They reproduce and pollute the world with more stupidity. They care about fictional characters that are living a scripted regular life on screen because they do not know how to fill their ones.
If this all does not scare you, I don't know what it may do.
Do not let any discrimination and violent act go unspoken, be it in the workplace, in your circle, in your family, on the street.
We are going to lose this war anyhow.
Let's just hold the line as long as possible.