. On The Politics of Window Smashing: Black Lives Matter and White Allyship | Ceasefire Magazine

Ideas | On The Politics of Window Smashing: Black Lives Matter and White Allyship

Self-described white allies must stop indulging in facile, exploitative narratives surrounding the BLM protests, writes Jamie Ranger.

Ideas, New in Ceasefire - Posted on Thursday, June 25, 2020 14:56 - 0 Comments

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A Las Vegas resident cleans up BLM graffiti (Vegas Review-Journal)

 

“Won’t somebody please think of the consumer goods? As a son of a mother, and a brother to a sibling, I am shocked and appalled by the way people are being allowed to circumvent traditional routes of consumptive acquisition. I am chilled to the core of my very soul that these looters instead deign to pilfer electrical goods, clothing and other miscellaneous items just because we live in an era of unprecedented wealth inequality, corporate tax evasion, climate breakdown, domestic militarised surveillance and in the middle of a global pandemic where public health is undermined by political ineptitude. Sure, all lives matter, that we can all agree, and change must happen so that change can happen, change must be implemented by our elected change makers and we need to be the change in the world to see the change we can all be, but when you steal food to feed your family, when you refuse to allow your labour to be alienated from its surplus-value, I mean, lord in heaven, you make me want to find reasons not to stop the creeping fascism at all.”    

– A rich liberal celebrity, probably.

Journalists are being pepper-sprayed, shoved and battered live on national television whilst disbelieving news anchors speculate on possible justifications for the open-air bludgeoning of their colleagues. Peaceful protesters offer bottled water to the police officers who will later commit literal war crimes against them, whilst peaceful protesters in other cities have their bottled water smashed and stolen, either by police officers themselves, or on their behalf by the exclusively red-cheeked denim-jacketed bootlickers that have friends in medium-height places. Fascist conspiracy theorists, notorious for thinking The Man is ‘turning all the freaking frogs gay’, that school shootings were ‘false flag events’ and that all universities teach Marxist propaganda financed by George Soros came under fire for an act of random arson, setting a homeless person’s belongings ablaze for the sake of being able to blame it on minorities. Even though they were quite literally confronted by their victim shouting in their cameraman’s face about how they were responsible in their own video clip, they still circulated it on social media in the hopes that their legion of followers wouldn’t care to notice anyway.

Police were flagged down by African-American store owners trying to protect their property from white supremacists exploiting the chaos, only to find themselves immediately handcuffed and threatened with semi-automatic rifles whilst the perpetrators ran away. We know this because a local camera crew captured the act of collective idiocy in real time, the reporter screaming at them that the real perpetrators were getting away, only to be drowned out by the cacophony of every single officer screaming different instructions, rushing around aimlessly with deadly weapons. A woman who slowed her car down to bear witness to the scene was ripped out of her vehicle and arrested on the spot, all on live television. At the time of writing, over 4,400 protesters have been detained by police across the failed state, all to ostensibly protect four murderers, but more importantly, to preserve a fascist culture of complete impunity for arbitrary and racially systemic violence.

The millenarian far-right, the sort of bomb shelter dwellers who have been sitting in the woods with tinned fruit and a Rambo complex, have been gearing up for a race war: they hate ‘the government’, they are ‘anarchists’, they are ‘libertarians’, they have guns to ‘protect their rights’, and yet when the government all but declared martial law on citizens who dare question the injustice hardcoded into the American simulation, they’re either hiding in a bunker like their president god-king, or taking to the streets to ‘help’ the police officers. Holding a baseball bat, an archer’s bow, hell, even a f***ing katana blade – any comically disproportionate weapon of choice you would expect to be encased in glass in the basement bedroom of a mouth-breathing virgin. Is there anything more pathetic than putting yourself in harm’s way to protect a gigantic corporation’s 227th most popular outlet? If you die on the streets wielding a bespoke replica of Krato’s Blades of ChaosTM, who will take care of your anime throw-pillow girlfriend when you’ve shuffled off this mortal coil?

But let’s not pin all the blame on these fascist morons. They are, after all, the kind of internet activists who think they are the ‘good guys’ as they sit at home spending their days maintaining Trump is a man of secret intelligence fighting the ‘Deep State’’, painstakingly photoshopping Obama and Clinton into images of communist leaders (as if the protesters don’t know they are also the enemy) and producing false equivalencies between demonstrators and Nazis because ‘Hitler was left-wing’ – the kind of ahistorical flimflam that can only emerge from a mediated and ideological pedagogy that actively engineers stupidity.

They are, after all, merely the excremental remainder of a broader pathological liberalism that no longer cares about the logic of its own legitimacy: We see you, we hear you, we’re letting them tear gas you, we’re letting them beat you. Oh, and don’t forget to vote for the dementia-riddled crime bill senator shuffling round a black church in a face mask, mumbling about shooting unarmed people in the leg. The liberal’s bleating of choice this time around, aside from the usual round of ‘Martin Luther King-would-never’ (that would be the anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist activist who was literally assassinated), is to cry foul over the looting of corporate entities.

When you’re not taking a knee in front of random African-Americans in a display of performative allyship for Instagram, take a knee for Target, a multi-billion dollar tax-avoiding corporation that actively funded the police department that murdered George Floyd. Just let that sink in for a minute: there’s a racist police force terrorising a city, and the corporations (who won’t pay their own workers properly) are spending their profits – profits literally made possible by the labour of their staff – on directly funding the machinery of their oppressors. It’s almost as if the police were exclusively invented for the purposes of protecting private property and crowd control.

The solution for many white moderates, who have either called for white people to ‘stop helping’ because ‘we’re just making it worse’, is to get together the morning after a riot and start cleaning up graffiti that’s been spray-painted on the walls of such illustrious and warm-hearted local institutions such as Nordstrom and Chase Bank: because, of course, the natural response when working class people rebel in a racialised capitalist society in breakdown is to take the time out of your day to leave your home in the context of a global pandemic to work as a cleaner – for a bank! – for free! Remember that next time the cleaners’ union goes on strike.

Let me be clear: there are disingenuous agitators in our midst. It is a historical tactic of both neo-Nazis and undercover cops to deliberately attack local businesses to produce a consensus that all looting is senseless violence and apolitical criminality. Police have already been caught casually smashing windows of local offices thinking they were not being recorded, and lone wolf instigators have been called out by protesters accusing them of suspicious escalation. There is an easy distinction to be drawn: protesters committed to justice don’t burn their own communities down; they may, however, focus on tagging, smashing and destroying those symbols of gentrification and collaboration: BLM spray-painted on a Starbucks is a form of political activism; setting fire to a family restaurant is not.

The eighth amendment of the United States constitution (and remember, it was an amendment) guarantees the protection of its citizens from cruel and unusual punishment. It has been made abundantly clear in recent days that white citizens who want to risk the lives of others for the sake of a coffee or a haircut, and are prepared to threaten police officers with firearms to get one, are completely protected from proportionate punishment, simply because the police know who and what they are defending, even if they do not. Cruel and unusual punishments have been par for the course for the black and indigenous communities of North America since the constitution was signed off: the national sport of jerking off the founding fathers, unsightly at the best of times, now resembles something of a humiliation fetish.

By turning their political attentions to ‘ANTIFA’, a non-hierarchical protesting strategy that is less a concrete organisation than a state of being (“You are wet from falling in the lake? Are you confessing that you were radicalised by WATER?”), the Trump Administration is giving liberals a dangerous out: if you’re white and your face is covered, if you’re white and standing next to black protesters, if you’re white and you’re on the streets demanding justice, we can designate you ‘ANTIFA’, we can treat you like a domestic terrorist: we can take away the rights you enjoy, and you know we can and we will, because you know what rights you have that others don’t already.

Fascists know that the white moderates that MLK warned about are cowards that pay lip service to transformative change and they are giving them an opportunity to disengage: like the BLM hashtag, post the sort of vague platitude that would get Pete Buttigieg hot and heavy on his hamster wheel, support the movement but condemn the ‘violence’ against ‘the community’. Yes, condemn the white ‘looters’, hell, condemn black looters too, condemn black looters targeting corporations, indeed condemn targeting corporations, and at this point, given they haven’t see your social media interventions, you might as well condemn any sort of political action of any kind exercised without prior permission, because after all, they were ignoring your wise and clever advice.

The Trump Administration is attempting to give the white ally an excuse to look the other way: to (substantially) paraphrase Karl Marx, ‘the middle class will walk over the bodies of the fallen to weep at the graffiti on the walls of the bank’. To consider the theft of a kettle or a jacket as equivalent to an act of wilful murder, to consider the mild inconvenience of graffiti a moral justification for the escalation of military-grade weapons and tactics on your own streets, to consider the mere existence of fascist saboteurs as a justification for throwing anarchist allies under the bus, is to privilege an emergent white supremacist fascism over the people’s call for justice, all for the sake of attempting to maintain the logic of the rules of a rigged consumerist game.

To conclude, I am imploring those (fellow white people) reading this who consider themselves apolitical, ‘above all this’, ‘confused by what’s going on’, to reject the most easy and exploitative narratives surrounding the protests, and apply a historical lens to what you are seeing. Stand and support those on the side of those fighting for a forgotten future, the post-racial world you claimed had arrived at Obama’s inauguration; and tell you what? If we lose, you can dance in the ruins of the shopping mall at the end of the world.

List of US bail-funds currently active: https://bailfunds.github.io/

‘The End of Policing’ – a free eBook from Verso

OkayAfrica’s Black Revolutionary Reading List

Free Master List of Black Political Writing

Jamie Ranger is a DPhil candidate in Politics at St. Hugh’s College, University of Oxford. He writes on the politics of speed, technics, media, space and radical democratic theory. He tweets from @jamieandhisego.

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