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December 2nd, 2016

The New Lynchings

Editor,
We’re all pretty aware – or should be – of the spate of brutal killings of black people by white men sworn to enforce the law. It’s reminiscent of the lynchings of yesteryear that were out carried with impunity, primarily in the south. The current murders, however, are nationwide and can’t be attributed to crazy southern white Ku Kluxers. So what’s going on?

It’s my guess that if I created an ethnically and racially mixed group and set the people working together on some socially constructive project that provided them all an equally good living, the bloodletting would be staunched. This isn’t wishful thinking. In past centuries, Muslims, Christians, Jews, and mixed ethnicities worked harmoniously together in prosperous European cities. During WW II, when many civilian men and women worked for good wages in defense plants, racism and chauvinism gave way to common cause. This history suggests that racism does not emanate from any “natural” antipathy toward those of different color, ethnicity or whatever, but is rooted elsewhere. When black and white children play together, they are blissfully unaware of color differences. They must be taught them.

This being the case, if we want to understand the current violence against blacks, we must think beyond simplistic notions of racism and get to the source of anger – since anger is always at the root of violence. Blacks and other minorities are certainly angry – whether or not they acknowledge it – since they are, for the most part, suffering deprivation in the face of plenty. That’s enraging. But massive numbers of whites are in the same boat – hence the welling white anger seeking refuge in irrational and incoherent Trumpism. So what we have is a society – black, brown, and white – justifiably incensed by a punishing economic inequality, with white members unjustifiably taking their anger out on minorities.

While this brutal contention causes social havoc and pain, it serves the ruling elite. If the source of the rage is economic, then the wealthy minority profiting from and perpetuating an unfair and troubled economy are the ones engendering the violence – and any anger should be rightly directed at them. But, through corporate-controlled media and education, anger is deflected from its real economic cause through a brilliant divide-and-conquer program. It’s the “bad cop” assaulting the innocent black man, or the “good cop” protecting himself from the “threatening” black. Inflaming warfare between blacks and whites is easy in our society – and convenient for the ruling class – given our long history of slavery, black competition for jobs, blacks kept in poverty through intentional social neglect such as underfunding black education and decent housing, and black “crimes” committed for survival. Asians – like blacks – look different than whites, and even act differently than westerners. Yet there’s no comparable antagonism between Asians and American whites – giving the lie to asserting “racial” instead of economic roots of black/white contention.

Only when we recognize who the real enemy is can we appropriately direct our anger and stop lynching our fellow human victims.

Andrew Torre
Londonderry, VT

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