Musings —07.11.2016 07:03 AM—
I was out of the town for Toronto’s big Pride parade, but I heard all about it. The local Black Lives Matter folks decided to blockade the parade, stopping it for half an hour, and then issued a ransom note to the Pride organizers.
Wow, I thought, observing the drama play out on Twitter. One group of victims victimizes another group of victims, and justifies it by claiming a higher victim status. Ironies abound.
Anyway, that melodrama went on – and on and on – in the pages of the Toronto Star for days. The rest of us moved on.
Then, all of a sudden, Louisiana/Minnesota/Dallas hit. They happened almost as a triptych. At the start of last week, the rhetoric of Black Lives Matter seemed almost understated, and police were on the defensive everywhere. Then, Dallas exploded, and roles were vividly reversed: Black Lives Matter were being called a terrorist group by people who know better, and fresh-faced schoolchildren were delivering handmade cards to weeping police officers.
And so, by this morning, as someone observed on Twitter, black people continued to be preoccupied by the disproportionate number of blacks dying for no reason at the hands of police. White people, meanwhile, were preoccupied by Pokemon.
Anyway. I thought this bit from a front page New York Times story captured it well:
Reactions to Thursday’s deadly ambush in Dallas swept through roll-call rooms and squad cars in police departments across the country. Contempt for the shooter was universal. But behind it followed other, varying observations about what it means to be a police officer in 2016, with the attending fears and frustrations, and amid a seemingly growing gulf between the police and the policed.
“We have broken into tribes,” Charlie Beck, chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, told a class of cadets who graduated on Friday. “All of a sudden it becomes more important who your parents are, what the color of your skin is, than whether you are American.”
It’s not just about “tribes.” And it’s not just about America, actually. This is a problem everywhere, for everyone.
The way events play out these days – super-caffeinated by social media and 24/7 news channels – the victim can quickly become the victimizer. The hunter can become the hunted, as they say.
There’s no moral on offer here, either. My only point is this: you could always go from hero to zero, in the bad/good old days. Nowadays, however, that transformation happens in the blink of an eye, whipsawing back and forth again and again. Rinse and repeat. Your transformation from victim to villain is instantaneous, now.
Politicians, corporate and union leaders, movie starlets and media mavens always tend to forget this, however. They always seem to think the adoration lasts forever.
It doesn’t. Today’s selfie is tomorrow’s mug shot: victims everywhere, take note.