George Floyd: it was first degree murder and torture, and it happens every day

04/06/2020 Comments Off on George Floyd: it was first degree murder and torture, and it happens every day

The women’s movement has been condemning violence against women and calling for the impunity of the vast majority of men who are ”getting away with it” to be addressed. But we have not succeeded in finding a way to make that violence, let alone any other form of violence, stop happening to begin with.

There is men’s violence against each other, for example, another class of violence altogether. It probably creates even more victims than violence against women, not least because it is so often committed on a mass scale (especially in war and massacres based on race, religion and ethnic background). It is even turned into highly praised TV programmes about animals in the wild, by apparently peace-loving people such as David Attenborough, who always film animals fighting, stalking their prey and killing each other – as mercilessly as that policeman tortured and murdered George Floyd – with intent and without hesitation or probably even a passing thought for the life that he extinguished.

George Floyd was tortured – it was inhumane, cruel and degrading treatment. The word ‘degrading’ is especially apropos in this instance because above all it was an expression of race hatred.

As Spike Lee said, this has been going on for 400 years. That is, since the country that became the so-called United States of America came into existence through the conquest of the land and its peoples by foreign white men. Can a country whose forebears once practised slavery ever stop treating the descendants of slavery as inferior? What public policy can finally create a society that practises non-violence? Why does humankind not have the understanding and mutual respect to achieve that?

I emigrated from the US for many reasons, but one of them was because, having spent five years of my youth protesting against the US war that decimated Vietnam, I could not cope with the violence rampant in the US itself, including in the Philadelphia neighbourhood where I lived before I left. Let alone that country’s glorification of its own violence through patriotism and the unquestioned assumption that it has the right to dominate, invade and declare war on almost everyone else on earth if, when and how it pleases. While glorifying itself as the world’s greatest democracy, as the world’s saviour even, strutting around the globe like every dictator on earth, preening itself on the world stage. Donald Trump is the culmination of everything that is has ever gone wrong  in my country, whose daily outpourings of hatred and contempt are insufferable, and yet get endless airtime and thereby credibility.

The names of all the black and ethnic minority people who have been murdered by police in the USA and by the US military abroad would fill endless walls. The solidarity of the demonstrations against this latest and most foul death in so many countries was heartfelt, coming from other countries where racism is also rampant though perhaps sometimes less blatantly murderous. Until an event such as the Grenfell Tower fire takes place or a virus is allowed to murder so many healthcare workers, especially those of black and ethnic minority origin, whose lives – seen by their governments as expendable – are extinguished.

The inevitability of Death is bad enough. No one should have to die like that.

Many people are shocked because they watched this murder on TV. But this is a daily event in the USA, as it is in so many other countries, if not in all of them. Why? Because the world does not have enough leaders who can and do implement the profound changes needed to right these wrongs, to challenge and silence the contempt, and stop the violence before it happens to begin with. Let alone enough citizens who will stand up publicly and reject the utter hypocrisy of the inevitable Boris Johnsons who put themselves in front of cameras after events like these to express their… their what? Pfah! as my grandmother used to say.

George Floyd’s brother called for an end to the violence in his brother’s name. I don’t know how to stop it happening either. But I stand with him.

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