Frank Zappa famously called politics "the entertainment division of the military-industrial complex." And I'll admit there's an element of entertainment in the chilling performance of star-spangled children dancing and spouting exceptionalist invective at rallies for the demagogue with the bad hair. The lyrics go like this:
Are you serious?
Apologies for freedom, I can’t handle this.
When freedom rings, answer the call!
On your feet, stand up tall!
Freedom's on our shoulders, USA!
Enemies of freedom face the music, c'mon boys, take them down
President Donald Trump knows how to make America great
Deal from strength or get crushed every timeFar from representing a splinter group at this point in history, the demagogue has been elevated by corporate media platforms like Time Magazine to front-runner for the Republican nomination for president.
"Deal from strength or get crushed every time" is ironically well-illustrated by the crushing of Black bodies into for-profit prisons and police custody where they die regularly. I'm reading Ta-Nehsi Coates' long, meditative letter to his teenage son about fear and the impossibility of any meaningful safety for a young Black man in the USA. Between the World and Me explains what Howard University meant to Coates and his extended family as a life-sustaining "Mecca" of inquiry, wisdom and deep love. What are the chances that his Black son will also be able to beat the odds in a country that builds far more prisons than it builds universities?
The military-industrial complex needs an entertainment division because what they do in the way of business as usual is even more chilling than celebrating racist slogans: they kill people. Lots of people.
A telling victim was Prince Jones, a classmate of Coates', top scholar and future leader who was stalked and killed by Maryland police in a case of mistaken identity. Or was it? Coates argues convincingly that the Dream of white supremacy and exceptionalism celebrated in campaigns this season is built on the crushed bodies of the human beings relegated to the bottom of the pile.
And this leads me to the refugees pouring out of Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Or dying in the rubble thereof.
The Washington DC think tank Council on Foreign Relations published a study of how many bombs my country dropped on the mostly Muslim, mostly brown-skinned people of the oil-rich countries in western Asia last year: