On Dallas and Domestic Terrorism
Let’s be honest about what this is: Terrorism. It’s not Al-Qaeda and it’s not ISIS. It’s homegrown. And it’s our failure. But should we be surprised? The process of police militarization has been well-documented. Military occupation tactics and terrorism are not really enemies; they’re good friends. Occupation and terrorism need each other to survive, they have a ‘para-symbiotic’ relationship with one another. They are both parasitic and symbiotic–they feed on each other. Glenn Reynolds drew my attention to Balko’s book, The Rise of the Warrior Cop. This has been brewing for a while. Remember the old TV show, Hill Street Blues, based on the Hill District here, where I write, in Pittsburgh? “Be careful out there,” and, “Come back alive,” kind of gives you the flavor of fear and despair which led to the warrior cop. But was it the cop’s fault? The Hill really was dangerous, alien, and frightening. So was it the Hill’s fault? That had once been a vibrant, prosperous, faith-filled aspirational neighborhood. What happened? Urban renewal happened. The city wanted to build a Civic Arena (which they called a New Acropolis of culture) which they planned to put in Highland Park. RK Mellon called the mayor and said that he didn’t want hoi polloi tramping through his neighborhood, and so the city condemned and took, by eminent domain, one of America’s most vibrant black neighborhoods. Tore it down, shuttled its residents to the socially isolated welfare-state theme parks known as public housing. Tore a community to shreds. It never recovered.
A long chain of hubris has led us to where we are now. Lots of guilty parties. Lots of people playing God, and failing.
Jesus understands this sort of thing. He grew up under an occupying army which was hated (and often hunted) by the local population. In fact, go and reread the Sermon on the Mount with new eyes, read it as a manifesto for oppressed (increasingly violent) people under occupation, and you’ll see just how very much Jesus has to teach us today.