In the past year much has happened; war broke out overseas and at home, and opinions were everywhere. Other than the fact that killing is a fucked up thing to do, I don’t know what more really needs to be said. Then again, maybe all of this should be talked about until we’re all sick to our stomachs about how we treat one another. There is a lot wrong with the world as we live in it, as well as the systems that govern it. Anyone have a better idea? It seems as though I never hear enough “better” ways to run a planet, although most of them involve doing things to other people you wouldn’t want done to yourself. War is an especially stupid way to establish a “free” society if I heard one. What exactly determines right and wrong in a war? Are we so deluded by our own egos that we really believe in the guaranteed victory of the good guys? What if your enemy happens to be bigger and stronger and more willing to risk their neck for their cause? It shouldn’t take much brains to realize there is nothing fair in such a barbaric contest. I don’t know about you, dear reader, but if I have to be that much of a warrior to enjoy the simpler pleasures of the earth, you can have it – let me the fuck off, please.
The riots in L.A. were another good example of how little we care about one another in the larger scope of things. Presumably to defend the honor of a black man who was beaten by police officers, outraged American citizens destroyed each others’ property, beat and killed random innocent victims, and then for no apparent reason, stopped. Nowhere in the media accounts did I hear that the four acquitted L.A. police officers’ homes were burned to the ground, or that their families were slaughtered, or for that matter that City Hall itself was targeted – no, just whoever was unlucky enough to live within certain perimeters and might have appeared to be an easy target for someone’s personal agenda of insecurity. The backlash seemed to be that appearance had everything to do with who was assaulted and who wasn’t – if you fell in the dress code regulations of the new left, you were more or less PC; if you appeared to be a conservative white you were a sitting duck for reverse bigotry-based hate crimes. Rage? Give me a fucking break. The participants in those riots were idiots, taking a cheap shot at an admittedly oppressive system, while never actually attacking the system itself. Thanks to those espousing a mob mentality – certainly not individuals by any stretch of the imagination – we have all been reminded that the kind of fear and closeted prejudice which has governed our society for over two hundred years is stronger than ever, and now in the hands of so-called liberals as well.
It was right on the tail end of this historic idiocy that I personally came to terms with a small scale repercussion of the same ignorance. As I was biking to a show in downtown Mpls, a young black man ran up to me and struck me in the head with what appeared to be a metal pipe, immediately rendering me unconscious, and causing me to lose control of the bike as I collided face first into a nearby fence. The bike skidded along for several feet with only my face against the steel mesh preventing me from falling over, until the bike frame jack-knifed and I fell to the ground, snapping my collarbone in two. The young man and his friends stood around kicking my crumpled body until an elderly black woman stopped her car in the middle of the street and chased them away, then ordered another passer-by to stay with me while she contacted the police. The good news is that I was unconscious. It was only after I left the hospital and a friend turned on the news, that I realized how widespread the rioting was. Even as I sat there in a medicated stupor, bruised and broken, with half my face looking like shredded meat, I think I actually felt worse for the elderly black man in Los Angeles who was pleading through tears at the news cameras, asking why rioters had burned his business, leaving him with no means to feed his family.
Unfortunately, just as these things happen for no good reason, they also usually occur at the least convenient time. I was trying to finish up this issue of NPR, wrap up the first volume of the Made Up Facts EP, and a bout a half dozen other projects all at once, when suddenly I found myself in a weird kind of limbo for several painful months. I’m not looking for any sympathy mind you, but it made me a lot more aware of my so-called community for one thing, as well as teaching me how completely disoriented a person can become in such a situation. I’ve only started to realize how emotionally screwed up I became following the incident, as well as physically imbalanced. The drag on another level is that I can’t help but feel that the attack had to do with my being white, like I’ve got any control over something like that – or should even have to feel apologetic for that matter. Apologetic for what? Other white people? I guess I don’t believe that the entire history of other people’s racial injustice is something I should have to carry on my shoulders [especially now that I’ve only got one of them left], any more than I feel that the struggles between men and women are all my fault because I was born with a penis.
I don’t know, I’ve spent my whole life going head to head with uppity white people who have tried to brainwash me into becoming one of them: a man (by their definition) and a proud American. Maybe I should have just done what I was told; then maybe I would be safe in an ivory tower somewhere instead of still fighting the same ignorance I fought as a high school student. Maybe instead of running an alternative press and petitioning for a minority-based curriculum in a Black Panther-occupied high school, I should have just left the politics up to my self-pitying classmates who routinely beat the shit out of me for being white, as well as the white kids who attacked me for having black friends. Maybe when I got older and married a black woman and helped raise her daughter for six years, I actually deserved to have her taken from my arms one night at gunpoint by wanna-be vigilantes who had obviously never heard of inter-racial marriages, nor were they members of the community we lived in, where everyone knew my wife and I by name. You wanna tell me about rage? Go right ahead.
Being a confrontational white person without a party line, I’ve also managed to get my ass kicked by the police several times, and probably haven’t experienced the end of it. While all of the pretentious anarchist posturing was going on in L.A., I was trying to take the Minneapolis police department to court over an incident I witnessed in which two cops beat the hell out of a young girl in a deliberate act of provocation on their part. The only other witnesses on the scene were about a dozen or more of the girl’s presumed friends – a group of loud-talking anarchist poseurs who together could have stood up to the cops, but were ultimately too pathetic to lift a finger – or even speak out on her behalf. Over the six months my case was being heard, any witnesses would have made all the difference in the world, but no one I approached wanted to speak up publicly. I guess there wasn’t enough glory in it – no front page spread, that’s for sure. Kind of makes you proud to feel you’re a part of a real community, eh? Yeah, punk might not be dead, but it’s apparently ensuring it’s survival by not stepping on any toes.
Hopefully the next time I write one of these columns I’ll have something more upbeat and positive to offer, but for now I’m just disgusted with what our so-called revolutions represent, and the blind ignorance through which we generally manifest our anger. I used to feel like anything I could do to try and change the system would ultimately benefit everyone, now I’m beginning to feel as though I should stick to watching my own ass. If that’s the way it really is, we’re all splitting hairs over whether war or suicide offers more of a solution. Anyone want to flip a coin?
© J.Free / The New Puritan ReView; 1992; 2022