By John Grant, This Can’t Be Happening, 8/15/14
Community or Warzone?
On Monday, I decided to spend my evenings flipping back-and-forth between Fox News and MSNBC as the two cable channels dealt with the dueling stories of the United States tiptoeing into a third war in Iraq and the sudden appearance of what appeared to be a police state in a little town outside St Louis. The Ferguson, Missouri story prevailed and has gone from bizarre and dangerous war zone to relief-filled street carnival to complicated human drama with the late addition of a convenience store video.
MSNBC dove headfirst into the Ferguson, Missouri story. An unarmed 18-year-old African American named Michael Brown had been killed by an unnamed police officer. Furious, unarmed African American citizens were confronted with determined cops dressed in camouflage battle fatigues, wearing helmets with plastic face masks, brandishing automatic weapons and backed up by huge, armored-up vehicles topped with officers pointing sniper rifles at them. It was a full-bore manifestation of the militarization of community police equipped by the Pentagon with millions of dollars worth of surplus Iraq and Afghanistan war weaponry. The stated purpose of all this military weaponry in our towns is to fight the War On Terror at the local level. It seemed to aggravate an already terrible situation.
Over at Fox, the heavy focus was on Iraq and ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or in another version, ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. (The Levant refers to the eastern end of the Mediterranean, which of course includes Israel.) ISIS in western Iraq has declared itself The New Caliphate. Over and over, Fox showed excruciating video of the desperate Yazidi people trapped on a barren mountain on the edge of the Kurdish area of northern Iraq. US and Kurd forces dropped desperately needed supplies. A US military team was dropped into assess the situation. Sean Hannity fulminated at his most vigorous trying to establish fundamentalist Islam as the living resurrection of the Nazis from World War Two. President Obama was the cause of everything. George W. Bush was never mentioned. History was absent.
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