I will acknowledge that a lot of progress has been made since the '60's, but at the same time, I believe we should also acknowledge how much work we have left to do. We have taken a lot of steps towards justice, however we haven't gotten there as of yet, and the interesting thing about justice is that every step leading up to it is still injustice. It doesn't really matter how much injustice is behind us, as the mere fact of this progress does little to help those who are suffering under our current, broken system. These systems are still mired in injustice, so these calls for reform are just as valid today as they have been for the last several hundred years. The fact that clear racism codified in law has been removed simply provides a mask, to allow people to justify their blindness to these flaws.
That said, I don't believe I agree with you assessment of the 60s riots. Your wording is a bit muddy, so I could be misunderstanding you, but the riots of the 60s were significantly more violent than what we have been seeing over the past several months. If your assertion is that what we are seeing now is worse than those riots, I believe you are sorely mistaken (however, again, I could be misunderstanding you as your wording wasn't entirely clear).
Additionally, I think you and I have severely different understandings of what it means to be unheard. If the people are speaking out against injustices in our criminal justice system for decades and the necessary changes aren't made, I consider that being unheard. It doesn't matter if it makes international news. The fact that it can make international news and still we don't see change says to me that those in power simply aren't listening. And while I am glad that the individuals involved in this incident were arrested, these protests don't start and end with George Floyd, and arresting a few officers neither rights this wrong, nor acts to ensure that this same thing won't happen again. We need systemic, proactive change, not a couple of band-aids.
I'll admit I got some agree/disagree whiplash in the first paragraph upon first glance. Without question, I follow the call towards a more justice yet there's something suspicious about such a tone/emphasis when making steps towards a better future. "Interesting" as it may be, does it really help to be casually reminded that we're just perpetually failing less? I'll jump back to why that's important because I think this ties in well with your 3rd paragraph.
To clarify: I didn't intend to argue the Minneapolis riots (2020) were more violent than many of the 60's riots. Given that MLK quote is likely responding to the Chicago '66 riots, it'd be irresponsible of me to disregard the paramilitary groups operating back then. What I'm trying to dive into is a clearer background as to why cry/language of the unheard strikes me as linguistic convenience here. I'll do a breakdown to make things clearer:
- Something I previously forgot: for all the eloquence of that MLK quote, it's still important to remember he still disparaged non-defensive violence and believed it counter-productive to reaching a better society. "Woke-activists" today may scoff at liberals utilizing the 'content of your character' quote ad nauseam, but there's several more qualifiers to consider before busting out 'unheard' by comparison.
- While there's no denying how dangerous of an environment the 60's riots created, it's tough not to look at that background with... enhanced sympathy. I'm willing to bet you have a bigger Rolodex of historical information of that time period than me, so I think you follow my intent. During the Civil Rights, we're looking at something beyond the metric of disproportionate pull-overs, targeted stop 'n frisk, and such. Racial aggression to the extent of consistently offensive attacks that were both validated by law & the majority of the Southern community is a dimension that pales in comparison to today.
- Even with that considered, it's not hard to find vocal agitators within some groups that spread the blame for today's transgressions to more people. It's also about including inactive involvement, meaning you're contributing to modern injustices by being an Average Joe punching in your time and not rallying to the streets. For me: I believe this kind of abrasive attitude, tied to otherwise sympathetic cries against modern injustices, played into those riots to a great degree.
Maybe we do. Just so we understand: I was trying to incorporate it within MLK's quote and the wider context. Reaching international stations isn't the end-all to being "unheard." When considering how previous eras implemented tools to make sure cries fall on deaf ears? Seems like a night/day difference on the outset. And although I'm with you on continued systemic problems, it'd be unfair to say that no efforts have been made. If looking at New York (or perhaps limited to NYC), it seems like attention given to bail reform was a big deal to numerous people. Its effectiveness is something I haven't dedicated much time on. Even VGChartz's favorite leader, Mango Mussolini, can get something like The First Step Act Bill signed into law. There are a plurality of different coalitions trying to move the needle forward in these ways.
Like that of the MPD officer arrests, maybe you'll bring up that these are band-aids of different sizes. Okay. But isn't this way more productive on the whole? To tie this back into my initial frustration: it seems like your quasi-defeatist language at the beginning and the seismic redresses required could make it easier to excuse this kind of destructive behavior. You are being perfectly measured. I need to make that clear. There's just something about the protectiveness that gets to me, as though taking a hard-line stance in delineating protests from riots means you're radioactive.
[About as pretty a bow I can make atm. Due to my weekend plans, future responses may take longer & be more sporadic.]
Thank you for the clarification. I appreciate it and I do believe I was not fully understanding you with my original interpretation. With this clarification, I largely agree, and I too would like to clarify my own points and explain why I am making them.
Historically, support for a movement and for change can very much become defined not by the complete substance but instead by knee jerk value judgements regarding one aspect. An idea can be defined by an individual or a specific act, though the idea itself is entirely distinct. I have seen many similar reactions to the Black Lives Matter movement. In my last post in this thread I briefly spoke about someone tying their judgement of the movement to a few minute details within the organization (which does not represent the totality of the movement).
As such, I am somewhat sore on the idea of someone touting the indiscretions of the rioters. I feel such a line of argumentation begs the question "To what end is this relevant?" The all too common conclusion is what I have seen many say: I do not support the cause of BLM because I do not support the actions of some individuals within the movement. I thoroughly disdain line of reasoning. To allow the perpetuation of injustice because some minority of those who are victims of this injustice choose to express themselves in destructive ways, in my opinion, seems to be the same vile reasoning that many have used to justify or perpetuate racism throughout history.
I will readily admit, you have not expressed this conclusion. I am not arguing that you have, but simply that I don't see the relevance within these moral judgements and pro/con analyses. As previously stated, the riots exist as an symptom of injustice. To quote my earlier post:
"The damage that was done is terrible, but I don't think that weakens any of the voices demanding change within these broken systems. Riots are a reflection of a system that has failed. The damage that was done doesn't weaken these voices, they only add to the urgency of calls for change."
So, while I don't necessarily disagree with an argument stating that the riots were immoral, I do worry about both the intent and the effect of focusing on this aspect of this movement. It shifts the definition of the movement, justifies a lack of support and empowers those in power - be they in the media or in politics - to remain immobile on these issues. It provides an out, to avoid confronting injustice. So what good is done by shifting the focus of the discussion to the evils of riots?
One last point I would like to make is that again, I acknowledge that progress has been made, however if we maintain this pace, it will be decades or more, before we reach a suitable end point within the criminal justice system. So much work has yet to be done. The changes required are truly fundamental. As such, I question whether non-structural change really has any significant benefit. At times, it feels as if the improvement works primarily as placation, designed not to step towards justice, but to silence critics. As such, these minor changes may delay true justice. The majority may be satisfied with a few band-aids, leaving those truly suffering to fall completely unheard yet again. Still, I support the minor changes despite my reservations. That said, we cannot allow them to silence us, or our calls for foundational change. Again, to be clear, I support these changes - I support the First Step Bill, and I support reforms to the cash bail system - however, I will never move to lessen the voices of those who are still fighting for change until we have a system which provides true justice.