What’s Past Is Prologue
I detect a smug look of self-satisfaction on Derek Chauvin’s cop face as George Floyd’s life ebbs away. (He may have already been dead at that point.) That’s the look of a sadist inflicting pain on his victim and enjoying every minute of it. (How George Floyd Was Killed in Police Custody | Visual Investigations)
Below are a few spot-on quotes from a reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times in a 31.5.20 article: How could he do it? Riots don’t touch key question. Listening to the police scanner during Saturday’s riot, trying to make sense of it all.
Police represent society, for good and bad. They represent us, our values. So let’s ask again: How could he do it? Easy. Because George Floyd wasn’t a person. To Chauvin, he wasn’t human, he was black.
How could he do it? He was trained. Not at the police academy, maybe. But by America, and its 400 years of systemic dehumanization and enslavement. Those go together and endure, a legacy baked into everything today. Of course, 40 percent of Americans ignore facts; they always have. You can’t be a self-satisfied slaveholder otherwise.
A Canadian friend and colleague, looking south of the border with shock and dismay, sent me this note:
You know, Mark, it occurred to me, this police officer in Minneapolis… Do you have any difficulty picturing how he would have conducted himself as a solider posted to Iraq in 2003 or to Viet Nam in 1970? The core sadism and power madness totally on display and on record. Chilling.
Or Afghanistan in 2002 or in the Philippines in 1901, etc., ad nauseam. Chilling, indeed. Fueled by hatred and a concomitant sense of superiority.
Sadism & Power Madness 345 Years Ago in British Colonial America
You could add many other countries to that list, not to mention many other periods of US history going back to the beginnings of settler colonialism in New England. I have no difficulty picturing how Chauvin would have conducted himself as an English soldier on 26 May 1637 at the Mystic Massacre in 1637 or in King Philip’s War (1675-78), AKA the First Indian War, Metacom’s War, Metacomet’s War, Pometacomet’s Rebellion, or Metacom’s Rebellion.
This includes a battle known as the Great Swamp Massacre fought on 19 December 1675 against the Narragansett tribe in present-day Rhode Island. An estimated 300-1000 Native Americans died from gunshot wounds and exposure to the elements, after their fort (winter camp) was set on fire. The vast majority were women and children. The tribe’s website notes that Following the massacre, many of the remaining Narragansett retreated deep into the forest and swamp lands in the southern area of the State. (Much of this area now makes up today’s Reservation). Many who refused to be subjected to the authority of the United Colonies left the area or were hunted down and killed. Some were sold into slavery in the Caribbean, others migrated to upstate New York, and many went to Brotherton, Wisconsin.
Shalom (שלום), MAA