Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Blaming the victim, Texas style

This is a video that Texas now requires all high school students to view. Its purpose is to "teach" students how to interact with the police.

But, in reality, it serves to give the police any number of excuses when they make the decision to pull their weapon and shoot someone.

And I don't want to hear that constant refrain that being a cop is a hard job. No one was forced to enter law enforcement. Everyone who attended the academy made the decision that's what they wanted to do.

The State of Texas has made the decision to side with the police when it comes to the shooting of unarmed black men. Texas has decided that the blame falls squarely on the victim of police violence because they didn't act in a certain manner. This mindset lets the police off the hook when they turn a situation confrontational. It lets them off the hook when they decide to draw their weapon.

It's the classic game of blame the victim.

Part of the problem is that law enforcement loves to play soldier. Local departments are dressing their officers in uniforms that look like fatigues. They are carrying military-style weapons. Departments are handed surplus military gear like it's candy.

And in this effort to have a War on Drugs - or whatever other evil is the flavor of the month - police officers adopt an "us v. them" attitude. The police are on patrol. The news media refers to ordinary citizens as civilians - so as to differentiate them from the police.

Now don't get me wrong. The police have always been used to enforce the social order. They were the front line defenders of Jim Crow in the South. The images of Bull Connor turning the police dogs on civil rights protesters can never be erased from the mind. The police have been used to bust strikes. They have been used to deny people their right to assemble peaceably and petition the government over their grievances.

I don't think we should be surprised that such a video becomes must-watch propaganda in Texas. There are more than enough wing nuts in the state legislature and Board of Education who love the idea of a police state (while telling their supporters how evil government is). Not surprisingly, the video left out the most important instruction in how to deal with the police -- not being black. Until we can sit down and discuss the racism at the core of policing, nothing will ever change.

Perhaps police officers should have to watch a video to teach them how to interact with people of color.

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