Friday, December 2, 2016

State Sanctioned Violence

“It is organized violence on top which creates individual violence at the bottom. It is the accumulated indignation against organized wrong, organized crime, organized injustice, which drives the political offender to act.” Emma Goldman

Russian-born anarchist and feminist Emma Goldman arrived in the United States in 1885 at age 16 and became radicalized in the wake of the Haymarket affair in Chicago.  Police arrested the popular lecturer and rabble rouser several times for distributing birth control information, supposedly inciting followers to riot, and inducing men not to register for the draft during World War I.  Deported to Russian in 1919 during the Red Scare, she grew disillusioned with life in the Soviet Union and died in Canada in 1940 after opposing fascism during the Spanish Civil war.  Anne Balay named her eldest daughter after Emma Goldman. 

Protestors gathered outside the Lake County Superior Court Building in Hammond in support of Native Americans at Standing Rock taking a stand in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline. IUN professor Eve Bottando drove to the reservation over Thanksgiving to deliver supplies to those fighting to protect their land and culture.  She told Post-Tribune reporter Becky Jacobs of meeting a vegan chef, an architect, a couple from Alaska who brought their children and many other fellow travelers, concluding, There are these beautiful little quirky things that are about everyday life and people who don't know each other finding common ground, literally and figuratively.”
Tamir and, below, Samaria Rice

Speaking at IUN was Samaria Rice, whose 12 year-old son Tamir in 2014 was killed by Cleveland policeman Timothy Loehmann, who mistook his toy gun for a real one.  Event sponsors include Showing Up for Racial Justice Northwest Indiana, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs (ODEM), African-American and African Diaspora Studies, Black Student Union and Minority Studies.  A suburban police force had recently terminated Loehmann because he lacked the requisite emotional stability.  The rookie cop shot Rice in the stomach within seconds of arriving on the scene. According the Huffington Post, he failed to render first aid to Tamir but instead tackled and handcuffed his older sister when she ran toward him.  After viewing a video of the incident, Cleveland Municipal Judge Ronald Adrine exclaimed that he was “thunderstruck” at the swiftness of the shooting. A grand jury subsequently refused to indict Loehmann, but the city of Cleveland settled a lawsuit with the Rice family for $6 million.

Ten days ago, on the second anniversary of Tamir Rice’s death, Samaria Rice participated in a demonstration outside police headquarters, chanting of “We got to fight back” and “No justice, no peace.”  Noting her many sleepless nights, Tamaria Rice said, “There’s no reason why we should have dead babies in the state of Ohio or in this country. . . .  I’m disgusted with America.”

In Cincinnati on the first leg of a so-called “Victory Tour,” Trump told a large group of supporters that his choice for Secretary of Defense, retired general James Mattis, is nicknamed “Mad Dog.” Then with relish he repeated the words “Mad Dog” several times while the crowd roared.  Current frontrunner for Secretary of State is retired general David Petraeus, currently on parole for passing classified documents to his lover. One can only hope that, like many military officers who’ve seen combat, these men have a healthy realization of the horror of war.

At present the most horrifying example of state-sanctioned violence is the indiscriminate bombing of civilians in the Syrian city of Aleppo by the armed forces of President Bashir al-Assad, aided by Russian and Shiite allies. The U.S. appears helpless as this tragedy goes on and on, yet intervening would undoubtedly have bad unintended consequences.  I shudder to think what Trump might do – support his buddy Putin and the butcher Assad or go off recklessly in some hair-brained effort to look tough.

Citing the Confucian saying “Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance,” son Dave posted: “Hearing the words President Elect Donald J. Trump makes me depressed every time.  No President Elect has ever held a ‘Victory” rally.’ He is megalomaniacal.”

Jean Shepherd’s “In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash” opens with this quote from Hoosier bard George Ade: “There are at least two kinds of education.” “‘Nevermore,’ quoth the assessor, ‘Nevermore ….” – the chapter title inspired by short story writer Edgar Allen Poe, master of the macabre -  is about a sheriff sale befalling the family of Ralph’s friend Junior Kissel.   Shepherd wrote:
  Strange people began arriving in dented blue cars, panel trucks; some just walking, carrying baskets and bags.  They were the first Auction Followers we had ever seen.  There is a race of Human Vultures that lives off the disaster and defeat of others, picking the bones clean.  They perform a necessary function, just as a scavenger does.  Those on the scene early were rummaging through the piles of coffee pots, old tires, potted ferns, and Mr. Kissel’s toolbox which he carried to the roundhouse on the few days he worked every month.
Peeping out a window, Ralph recognized Mr. Kissel’s bottle-capper (used to bottling of Home Brew), Mrs. Kissel’s ancient Hoover vacuum cleaner, and Grandpa Kissel’s World War I helmet. Shepherd described the scene:
  Rusty saws, an old single-barreled 12-gauge shotgun that brought four dollars, a spectacular oil tablecloth with red ornamental lettering: a CENTURY OF PROGRESS. CHICAGO WORLD’S FAIR, with a gold picture of the Hall of Science.  The bidding for this one was sharp and bitter.
  Finally it was over.  It didn’t last long, maybe 45 minutes of so, but when it was over, the end was definite.

At Hobart Lanes our opponents We’re Here spotted us 92 points, and the Electrical Engineers proceeded to beat them scratch -  by well over 100 pins -  as Melvin Nelson improbably garnered six strikes in a row.  Then, opponents Mike Wardell, Doris Guth, Dennis Cavanaugh, and lefty Beverly Brown (who last month rolled a 584 series) took the next two but we still won series.  I ended with a 436 series, slightly above my average, despite two or three splits each game.  Afterwards, I bantered with daughter-in-law Delia’s three uncles, Eddie, Larry and Phil.
 active shooter drill at IUN: Post-Trib photo by Jim Karczewski

IUN police conducted an “active shooter” drill with Nursing students whom hopefully knew about it beforehand.  Post-Trib reporter Javonte Anderson wrote:
  Officers rushed in brandishing airsoft guns, secured the premises and quickly neutralized the threat. The nursing students promptly followed, aiding the injured students whose cries for help echoed throughout the building.
  It was only a drill.
In 1989 ROTZ captain Sam Manto burst into a speech class in fatigues and with a fake rifle, taking the teacher and students by surprise.  Some were very upset.  When Chancellor Peggy Elliott herd about the incident, she called it “outrageous and demanded that his superiors remove Manto from campus. That’s the last we saw of Manto.
Leafing through “The Great Emerson Art Heist” by Gary native Kendall Svengalis in search of descriptions of his hometown in 1942, the year the novel takes place, I found a scene where girl detective Ellen Anderson first arrives from Chicago at South Shore station that evoked Jean Shepherd’s representation of Region pollution during that era:
  The air was acrid with the smoke that belched from the towering smokestacks and open-hearth furnaces, blackening the sky overhead.  Indeed, the entire city appeared to be bathed on a layer of soot whose noisome odors permeated the nostrils of all who walked its streets.  But it also signified full employment for a population that had recently suffered through the deprivations of the Depression and was, doubtless, glad to be working again.
In the chapter “Exploring the Central District” Svengalis describes Gary’s immigrant neighborhoods as “an eclectic mix of European coffeehouses, ubiquitous taprooms, restaurants, bakeries, small hotels, laundries, billiard parlors, ethnic groceries, hardware stores, cobblers, and other establishments serving its multicultural and multiracial population.”  Svengalis continued:
  Along the 1300 block of Washington Street between Broadway and Madison was Crimean Imports, sandwiched between the Kallavryta Coffee House and the Steel City Hotel.  Also occupying the same block were the Oriental Café, the Hellas Coffee House, the American Serbian Athletic Association, the National Bottling Works, and the Ristoff Tavern, most apparently with apartments upstairs. The street exuded an atmosphere more typical of the fringe of a cosmopolitan European city than an American one.  Indeed, visitors would be hard-pressed to hear any English being spoken in the polyglot Central District, particularly where fellow nationals congregated.  They would be more likely to hear Greek, Hungarian, Serbian, or Polish being spoken.
Froebel School in 1948 and being demolished in 2005

Svengalis touches on the racial prejudice existing in Gary during the 1940s.  During a tour of Froebel School Ellen Anderson is told:
  Unfortunately, you’ll discover that the Negro students only get to use the swimming pools on Fridays, before they’re cleaned.  Mildred Willis – she’s a Negro – wanted to join the swim team, but they wouldn’t let her because it would have broken the unwritten taboo.  I spoke to Mr. Coons, our principal, about it, but he wouldn’t relent.  I know why.  He was planning to retire and wanted to avoid controversy in his last year.  There’s a lot of racism in Gary, including the schools.  Froebel is the only integrated high school in the city because the Negro population is concentrated here, in the Central District.  But even here, a lot of the activities are segregated, even the PTAs.

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