When President Harry Truman sent U.S. troops to Korea in 1950, he called it a “police action.” He chose those words for a reason: It was the first time a U.S. president sent troops into war without congressional authorization. Calling it a “police action,” he and the military-industrial complex evaded the article of the Constitution that confers on Congress, not the president, the power to declare war.
Congress never did declare it a war, even after the deaths of millions of Koreans and 33,700 U.S. troops. Nor has it done so in any of the scores of other deadly wars since then conducted by the Pentagon, which has unleashed mayhem around the world.
Fast forward to 2014. A war is being waged against the African-American community of Ferguson, Mo., but it too is labeled a police action. Local, county and state police, the National Guard, the FBI, the CIA and who knows what other armed entities have been mobilized. They are equipped with military-style tanks and high-powered weapons. Helicopters fly overhead, and satellites beam information down to command posts.
It’s a war, all right, and all to stop the people from demonstrating their anger and frustration at the long reign of racist terror waged against their community.
The last straw came in August when officer Darren Wilson shot and killed an unarmed Black teenager, Michael Brown. Since then, courageous women and men, the majority young, have been demanding justice in daily protests. They refuse to be intimidated by the armed force occupying their community, despite a growing number of arrests for “unlawful assembly.” By declaring a state of emergency, the governor of Missouri has further militarized the repression in Ferguson.
In every war of oppression, an important weapon in the hands of the state is the media. Ferguson only proves this rule. The editors of all the major corporate media have been busily engaged in defaming the heroes of Ferguson. The most violent acts by the armed men of the state — like the shooting of Brown — are portrayed in the media as a justified reaction to a perceived threat. But if the Black community and their allies go into the streets, sit down, call for putting the killer cop on trial, and end up inconveniencing motorists, that is treated as “violence” and must be put down by the forces of “law and order.”
This is not just propaganda or biased reporting. It’s psychological warfare.
And this is a class war. It is aimed against the most oppressed sections of the working class. Yes, the Black, Brown, Native and Muslim communities are occupied precisely because otherwise they would be “ungovernable” — meaning they would refuse to be dictated to by the rich and privileged any longer. The capitalist ruling class knows they are ripe for rebellion. So it gets its bought-and-paid-for politicians to allocate billions to prisons, detention camps and police/military occupation of oppressed communities rather than raise wages or make quality health care and education free for everyone, as they should be.
As this is being written, the forces of repression are gearing up for mass outrage if, as expected, the grand jury rules not to indict Wilson for murder or even manslaughter. The people of Ferguson will not take it lying down; nor will their sisters, brothers and allies around the country and the world. They will resist. And they should receive the broadest support possible from the progressive and working-class movements.