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Common Dreams - June 10, 2020

Starting with the original sin of slavery, those in our nation who were born White have exerted power over those who were born Black. Black Lives Matter is a powerful response to the implicit attitude that Black lives are disposable.

As horrific as it was to watch the torture and murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police, all of us owe a debt of gratitude to the brave young woman who captured it on video for all the world to see. (She is being “rewarded” with harassment and the need to move to an undisclosed location.) 

In response to that unspeakably painful video, people are rising up across the country in massive protests seeking to finally eradicate the systemic forces that led to Mr. Floyd’s torture and death. An underlying message of the protests is that if any of us is treated as disposable, we all are in danger.  

Those protesting represent all races, ages, genders, and sexual orientations. One of the tens of thousands of Americans who joined protests demanding that our country value Black lives was Martin Gugino, a 75-year-old peace activist. During the June 4 protest in his hometown of Buffalo, Gugino unthreateningly walked up to a group of police. They responded by violently shoving him, knocking him to the ground, where he hit his head and lay unmoving and bleeding.

The police let him lie on the ground, by himself, unconscious, blood pouring from his head. He was eventually taken to a hospital, acutely injured, in serious condition. Gugino is White, but because of his decision to stand up for Black lives, his life was treated as disposable, too. 

In blasting the unconstitutional, dictatorial use of force by President Donald Trump against peaceful protesters, General James Mattis stated, “Instructions given by the military departments to our troops before the Normandy invasion reminded soldiers that ‘The Nazi slogan for destroying us ... was 'Divide and Conquer.'”

The Normandy invasion marked the turning point in our fight against Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime, which saw many lives as disposable. The German language even has words for these supposedly lesser humans. Untermensch are sub-humans, those who are useful for slave labor. Lebensubwertes leben are an even lower category, “life unworthy of life.” Those the Nazis deemed unworthy of life—Jews, homosexuals, people with disabilities, among others—were taken to concentration camps for extermination.

If you don’t understand that today’s protests are in opposition to the same forces that motivated Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime, you are part of the problem. It is time for people of all races, all ages, all religions, genders, and sexual orientations to stand together in solidarity and protest under the banner of Black Lives Matter.

Former President Jimmy Carter clearly sees the deeper connection: “People of power, privilege, and moral conscience must stand up and say ‘no more’ to a racially discriminatory police and justice system, immoral economic disparities between whites and blacks, and government actions that undermine our unified democracy.”

As humans, all of us are physically vulnerable. From the dawn of humanity, we have engaged in collective activity to reduce that physical vulnerability. Police, in theory organized to reduce our common physical vulnerability, have instead become an instrument of increased physical vulnerability of some humans simply because of the color of their skin. ...
Read full commentary at Common Dreams