Tuesday, January 5, 2016

What Do We Want?

I was pointed at an article on Slate that examines the standoff, orchestrated by Ammon Bundy, over federal land in Oregon. One of the topics that author Jamelle Bouie engages is the activist response to the differences between the response to the armed men in the Malheur Wildlife Refuge and police responses during encounters with people like Micheal Brown and Tamir Rice.

In any case, why won’t they shoot at armed white fanatics isn’t just the wrong question; it’s a bad one. Not only does it hold lethal violence as a fair response to the Bundy militia, but it opens a path to legitimizing the same violence against more marginalized groups. As long as the government is an equal opportunity killer, goes the argument, violence is acceptable.
Is the Oregon Standoff Evidence of a Racial Double Standard?
But I think that this misstates the activists case and intent. As I understand it, the goal is not equal opportunity killing - by rather equal opportunity caution. Bouie points out that after the disasters that were Ruby Ridge and Waco, federal law enforcement is much more careful in dealing with militia movements than it had been. Had police entered into many of the interactions with Black men over the past few years with more caution, you could argue that fewer of them would have ended in bloodshed, and the cases of open police misconduct would be much easier to recognize.

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