Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Nixon's Jeremiad

I'm talking about Missouri Jeremiah ("Jay"), not the late unlamented Tricky Dick -- although both men seem to be cut from the same paranoid Republican cloth coat. Governor Nixon has essentially just issued an Angry Black People Alert in anticipation of riots after an expected no-bill grand jury finding in the shooting of Michael Brown.

Just like his Old Testament namesake, Jeremiah Nixon obviously fancies himself a major prophet, what with his premature Declaration of Emergency. It must be hard out there for political vehicles of divine revelation.

With the Ferguson community still traumatized, the National Guard is mobilized and the police force is newly weaponized. What could possibly go wrong?

Nixon, actually a putative Democrat, is nevertheless in full Clint Eastwood mode as well as Biblical mode. He looks at the peaceful streets of Ferguson the same way Dirty Harry looked at that empty chair at the Republican National Convention, and sneers at the protesters in his brain: "Go ahead. Make my day."

But to soften up his plan of pointing automatic weapons at American citizens exercising their Constitutional rights, Jeremiah simpered that he only wants to “support law enforcement’s efforts to maintain peace and protect those exercising their right to free speech.”

Or, if you prefer your Orwellian Jeremiads translated into official proclamation-speak:

WHEREAS, the United States Department of Justice and St. Louis County authorities could soon announce the findings of their independent criminal investigations; and
WHEREAS, regardless of the outcomes of the federal and state criminal investigations, there is the possibility of expanded unrest; and
WHEREAS, the State of Missouri will be prepared to appropriately respond to any reaction to these announcements; and
WHEREAS, our citizens have the right to peacefully assemble and protest and the State of Missouri is committed to protecting those rights; and
WHEREAS, our citizens and businesses must be protected from violence and damage; and
WHEREAS, an invocation of the provisions of Sections 44.010 through 44.130, RSMo, is appropriate to ensure the safety and welfare of our citizens.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, JEREMIAH W. (JAY) NIXON, GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF MISSOURI, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and Laws of the State of Missouri, including Sections 44.010 through 44.130, RSMo, do hereby declare a State of Emergency exists in the State of Missouri.

Because how can we possibly have peaceful free speech without those angelic choirs of sound blasters to enhance it? And all those eyes smarting and burning from the tear gas have to be soothed somehow, so it might as well be with violent therapeutic blasts from military water cannons. Or, as the original Jeremiah prophesied,"A scorching wind from the barren heights in the desert blows toward my people, but not to winnow or cleanse."

Jeremiah Nixon doesn't specify from whom, besides the military and the militarized, the peaceful protesters need protection. I assume it must be the Black Panthers crossing over from some invisible Maginot line from the past, circa-mid 1960s . Or maybe it's the socialist ghosts of Haymarket from nearby Chicago. Or the Weathermen, the Manson Family and the Palmer Raid anarchists all rolled up into one make-believe motley mob. His proclamation doesn't actually say, but the subtext of these things always involves those mysterious outside agitators, who are absolutely essential in order for any modern police state worth its salt to maintain control of its flock.

Update: Stung by widespread criticism of his doomsday prophesying, Jeremiah today blamed growing up privileged on the right side of the tracks for his white person paranoia. And since it is far too late (and he's far too important and busy) to deal with the problems of black and poor folks himself, he is appointing a special commission to explore those pesky racial issues. And he is giving them an overly generous year and a half to report back to him. That strikes me as pretty strange. If he is prophetic enough to foresee riots in the streets, and canny enough to call up the National Guard in advance, he certainly should be able to tell what's going to be in the report before they even write their first word. The New York Times is, as ever, on it.

But ever the Orwellian card, Big Jer joked, "I'm not preparing for war. I'm preparing for peace. I'm preparing for order and peace."

It kind of brings back fond memories of That Other Nixon declaring peace with honor in Vietnam even as he bombed the hell out of Cambodia and Laos.


Pearl said...

http://nbcnews.to/1xM5PBq via @Keystone Vote Falls Short in SenateNBCNews

thank goodness for one courageous woman who stemmed the tide. Hope she stays in office.

Pearl said...

Wait! Total confusion here. when the headline came up about the vote falling short Landrei's name was mentioned but actually she was supporting the bill which another person opposed which was only mentioned later on. Wish they would make things clearer sooner.
Sorry. And now she deserves to lose her seat.

Denis Neville said...

Dog whistle politics …

“The confluence of racial prejudice and conservative politics is the new racism. It’s a product of almost a half-century of ethnic discourse and coded race-baiting that has remade racism into a set of ideas jointly demonizing nonwhite culture and activist government. These ethnic-racial-political stereotypes have become staples of modern racial discourse, and now seem like self-evident truths…” - Ian Haney López

Governor Nixon's approach to civil rights activism, i.e., the intentions and rights of civil rights protestors:

"This is America. People have the right to express views and grievances, but they do not have the right to put fellow citizens and property at risk. Violence [but not state-violence] will not be tolerated."

“Ironically, this is the message of protestors as well.” - Antonio French, St. Louis alderman, chronicler of the Ferguson events

Echoes from the not too distant past:

"We will not tolerate agitators attempting to orchestrate a disturbance in our state." - Alabama governor George Wallace, 1965 warning to Selma demonstrators

The point of Ferguson protests isn't violence. The protestors have legitimate grievances and have the right to express them.

Nixon, completely missing the point, is actually the one creating the climate for fear and violence.

"It is unacceptable that they use their power to keep us voiceless." – Martin Luther King, Jr., 1965

“Wallace, Goldwater, and Nixon [Tricky] recognized and sought to take advantage of existing bigotry in the voting public, bigotry they did not create but which they stoked, legitimized, and encouraged. They did so not to inflict further pain and humiliation on nonwhites, though that consequence was sure to follow from their actions. Rather, they were willing to play racial hardball to get elected. These racial demagogues acted out of strategic racism.” - Ian Haney López, Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class

Zee said...

It is outrageous and needlessly provocative and inflammatory that Jeremiah Nixon should declare a State of Emergency in the State of Missouri in advance of any announcement of the outcome of the grand jury investigation of the shooting of Michael Brown.

It's one thing to be prepared, behind the scenes, for violent demonstrations should they occur. It's quite another to metaphorically wave a red cape in front of the bull and literally demand that violence occur.

Jeeze. What a grandstanding idiot.