Well I’m about to get upset / From watchin’ my TV / Checkin’ out the news / Until my eyeballs fail to see / I mean to say that every day / Is just another rotten mess / And when it’s gonna change, my friend / Is anybody’s guess
It is said, by whomever it is that says these things, that art is that which stands the test of time. That works for me. The lyrics I’ve scattered though today’s column were written by Frank Zappa fifty-five years ago after watching the Watts Rebellion on his TV. This song was the reason record producer Tom Wilson signed Zappa and the Mothers to their first record deal.
The song, “Trouble Every Day”, could have been released this very week. It is all about today. And tomorrow.
If you believe the right-wing jackals who are braying “Oh, no. It’s not our happy little black people causing the problem. They’re being mind controlled by those far-left-wing anarchist Democratic outside agitators!” then you are part of the problem.
People assume a lot. Some assume the protesters are entirely or largely black. That is totally and completely untrue – look at a cross-section of media coverage, look for who’s focusing on black people, and note the source. Then compare those shots to the others. Trump says ANTIFA is an actual organization, and that all the so-called outside agitators are left-wing. According to the FBI, most of the identified “outsiders” are from known far-right-wing groups.
Looting is another matter. Such demonstrations, once they are so identified, vastly increase the opportunities for looting. Those people grabbing the boodle aren’t protestors, they are criminals exploiting these situations. Despite Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and Laura Ingraham’s most orgasmic wet dreams, the looters are parasites as formidable as the coronavirus, and they will leech onto whatever opportunity comes their way… and that goes back to the Year Gimmel.
As Joan Rivers used to say, “Grow up!”
You might respond “But I don’t hate [fill in the blank] people! I CAN’T POSSIBLY be racist! There isn’t a racist bone in my body!” That latter part might be true, but your brain is not a bone. If you don’t understand that it is far more difficult, and far more dangerous, to be black in America than it is to be white, then you are a big part of the problem. To quote another Frank Zappa lyric, “Better look around you before you say you don’t care.” In order to be part of the American Race — a mongrel race, to be sure, and I’m proud to be part of that — you have to pay at least as much attention to what’s really happening on the streets of our nation as you do to the football point spreads.
Does your life matter? How about that black person over there. Does that person’s life matter? Yes, you say? Then act like it! While you’re at it, make sure your police do, too. They are the ones killing people in your name.
And all that mass stupidity / That seems to grow more every day / Each time you hear some nitwit say / He wants to go and do you in / Cause the color of your skin / Just don’t appeal to him / No matter if it’s black or white / Because he’s out for blood tonight
On his ABC-TV show last Friday, Jimmy Kimmel said “I especially want to pose this question to older people who have seen this before in this country, who have lived this nightmare of race riots already, in the ’60s and ’70s, ’80s, now. Is this who you want leading us? A president who clearly and intentionally inflames violence in the middle of a riot to show how tough he is?” Kimmel added, “I don’t care what you are, right, left, Republican, Democrat, something else. Enough is enough. We’ve got to vote this guy out already.” That is truth to power.
Forbes Magazine, which never has been confused with The Daily Worker, tells us “since January 01, 2015, 4,728 people have died in police shootings and around half, 2,385, were white. 1,252 were black, 877 were Hispanic and 214 were from other racial groups. As a share of the population, however, things are very different. Black Americans account for less than 13% of the U.S. population but the rate at which they are shot and killed by police is more than twice as high as the rate for white Americans.”
The toll of the 1965 Watts Rebellion in Los Angeles: 34 people killed by the LAPD and the National Guard, 118 people suffered gunshot wounds. $40 million in damages, in 1965 dollars. Today, that would be over $325 million.
President Johnson did not use the riots as a reelection ploy, although at the time he certainly could have used one. He did not blame the whole thing on “outside agitators” — a term so pungent you can smell what the bull just had for dinner. He did not encourage white people to go out after those blacks who might or might not have been involved in demonstrations, let alone riots. He did not encourage the authorities to use savage dogs, water cannons, shoot-to-kill demonstrators, he did not call out the mayor of the affected city as a “very weak Radical Left Mayor” (who must) other words. After the 1965 Watts Rebellion, Lyndon B. Johnson did not do what Donald J. Trump has been doing the past several days: pouring jet fuel on every fire he could see on television.
Hey, Donnie! You wanna stop this violence that you hope and pray will give you a second term? Here’s one way to do it.
Get the cops to stop thinking it is their right to kill black people at will.
Stop this, or you’ll really see the fires burning.
Our country isn’t free / And the law refuse to see / If all that you can ever be / Is just a lousy janitor / Unless your uncle owns a store / You know that five in every four / Just won’t amount to nothin’ more / Gonna watch the rats go across the floor / And make up songs about being poor – lyrics throughout excerpted from “Trouble Every Day,” written by Frank Zappa, ©1965. Frank later the line “by whomever it is that says these things.”