Thecuriousmail’s Weblog

Protesting athletes, history, and unaccountable police.

Posted in Uncategorized by thecuriousmail on October 7, 2017

black power salute

protesting footballers

The claim that politics and sport don’t mix, so the demonstration by black American athletes (and increasingly supported by white athletes)  against racist police violence is somehow illegitimate, is both disingenuous and condescending.

What the critics are saying is: the black athlete should just be quiet and play the game, and accept that outside the arena they are subject to racist police violence! A preposterous notion that contradicts both reason and history.

Remember the black power salute at the 1968 Mexico Olympics? Smith and Carlos both said it was a ‘human rights salute’ (and the Australian on the podium also wore a human rights badge). It was clearly deliberate by them, yet a protest they are entitled to make anywhere, and without the permission or approval of any other person or ‘authority’.

The immediate aftermath was  widespread condemnation and sanctions against the two. But nearly 50 years later, what does history now say?

What does history now say about Ali throwing his Olympic gold medal in the river after experiencing racism in his home town?

The truth is they are now vindicated, and history shows their protests were important in an ongoing struggle for racial equality. Indeed history will long remember their actions positively, while the detractors at the time  are now ridiculed.

And so it will be with the current American athlete protests.

Police violence has been in the news elsewhere this week. Why is it that police around the world seem to demonstrate the same prejudices and propensity to  unjustified violence? The only constant in the widely varying circumstances is that the perpetrators of the unjustified violence are police officers. What is it that can cross language, culture, systems of government etc amongst police forces?

I maintain that the fact  police violence crosses the world is indicative of

  1. The role police have in societies now. They are the storm-troopers of the State, whether that be a dictatorship or democracy, the police clearly see their role as defenders of the status quo and the enemy of  (however peaceful) dissension and protest, and much less to do with preventing and solving crime and the peaceful order of a free community. No police service is truly accountable to the community; it answers only to the State, and clearly serves only the interests of the State, even when in obvious conflict with the interests of a free community, even when obviously inconsistent with natural rights and freedoms.
  2. The State senses that a real change in and amongst societies is distinctly possible, which of course perturbs the ruling elites, so makes permissible and justifiable an excessively violent response. The State will routinely not now publicly censure excessive police violence, and indeed will actively attempt to protect culpable police, as police are left to investigate police.
  3. Around the world and in whatever country, people with certain negative personality traits are attracted to employment as police officers. These people attracted to police service are typically bullies, typically obsequious to orders, even orders contrary to reason or common-sense, typically in the lower range of intelligence. As a community, are these qualities desirable in a police officer? As a State, are these qualities desirable in a police officer?

Of particular import are the black police officers who use excessive and unjustifiable violence (including murder) against black suspects. The reason why this is possible is that the black police officer is first and foremost a police officer, with all the characteristic negative personality traits, and ethnicity etc is of lesser relevance (if relevant at all to them, so no empathy possible there). The black police officer can without justification harass or assault or murder a black suspect, even alongside a clearly racist white police officer, because of the personality traits of that black officer, and a police culture that is an agglomeration of these negative traits and attitudes.

Police forces around the world are rapidly becoming enemies of the people, prejudiced police taking unjustified action and not held accountable,  and as a tool of the State for control,  used to limit dissension and peaceful protest.

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