By James Murray
The American liberal-left have almost universally condemned the recent martyrdom operations (I don’t know what else to call them) that occurred in Dallas and Baton Rouge. Such actions set back ‘the movement,’ we have been told. They occurred outside any mass base and without orders from any central committee, and are therefore ideologically suspect and not helpful. These actions, and the attendant rush to show disapproval have led to bizarre scenes – Black Lives Matter activists hugging police at ad hoc ‘peace rallies,’ and hosting barbeques to thank police for their ‘service to the community.’
It is clear the martyrs of Dallas and Baton Rouge were not mad-men of the ‘active shooter’ variety so well known in contemporary America. Both were military veterans who read widely, exhibited discipline and did not lash out randomly – these were very targeted and precise actions. They did not shoot up a white mega-church or suburban mall, their targets were adult men, wearing uniforms and carrying weapons. Both men used high-grade rifles and optics in their assaults, and neither caused collateral damage to ‘civilians.’ Both men had flirted with organizations within the realm of secular black nationalism and Nation of Islam, yet both were unaffiliated. “This is on me,” the Dallas shooter said in a YouTube video (recently removed) made hours before the attack. “I have no affiliations with anything except the spirit of justice. I have a pure heart and I’m ready to meet the judge.”
Some had been expecting such actions for a while. The rapper Immortal Technique’s 2011 mixtape, ‘The Martyr,’ was in the artist’s words, “Intended to make people think about what it would look and feel like when the kinds of resistance we see in Kashmir or Palestine comes home to America.” On the song ‘Angels and Demons,’ one of his characters says –
Young black and just don’t give a fuck
Gonna run up in the courthouse and get amok
Nothing to lose but handcuffs
Every man must choose to lie down or stand up
Its wartime now everything’s fair no fear
The homie murdered the judge? I don’t care
Fuck him he deserved it
As long as the homie can get away and not get caught for the crime I encourage it
Niggas on the street are gonna start bangin back
You’ll see it on the news about the sergeant and the captain
Don’t take it as a warning I’m just another nigga rappin
Fuck the way ya’ll organizing and fuck the training and the grappling
And fuck these uncle Tom’s with their middle-class reaction
Now we’re bangin back on the system, fuck the factions
And if you didn’t know it the G is for George Jackson
Long live his warrior spirit packin a magnum
Given away free as a download ‘The Martyr’ mixtape has reportedly been downloaded over one million times. I asked a friend if he thought the Dallas shooter had ever heard of or read Noam Chomsky. “Maybe,” he said, “But probably not.” My next question was – “You think he had heard Immortal Technique?” “Absolutely,” was the response. Hip-hop as a leading indicator of rebellion certainly has its precedence. NWA’s classic, ‘Fuck The Police,’ was followed by the Los Angeles et al riots of 1991, that year saw the first hip-hop rebellion and we may be entering the second phase. If blues was the sound of alienated labor, a sound that was born and died with the industrial age, hip-hop is the sound of alienated play, the soundtrack of post-industrial superfluous lumpen, always (at least symbolically) in one condition – armed and dangerous.
At least someone has tried to examine this trend objectively. In Insurgencies – A Journal of Insurgent Strategy 2 (Little Black Cart, 2016) the author(s) discuss the 2014 assassination of two NYPD detectives by Ismaaiyl Brinsley. Following closely on the heels of the Ferguson Rebellion and the genesis of the Black Lives Matter movement the detectives were sitting in a car when as one witness said, “This nigga just lit em up.” Again, a very targeted and precise attack wherein no bystanders were injured. Brinsley then fled into the subway system and when cornered, shot himself.
The NYPD response was to go into crisis mode, perhaps haunted by the long memory of Black Liberation Army actions in the 1970s. Insurgencies 2 states:
After the attack we know the NYPD went on “strike” – officers declined
to pursue broken windows citations, quality of life infractions, traffic stops,
public housing walk-throughs, stop and frisk stops, and other forms of
wide-net extrapolation and processing of petty crime. A more telling
component of the strike however is that NYPD refused to answer any
call with fewer than two squad cars. This means that NYPD’s capacity to
answer calls of any nature has been cut in half.
Far from falling into chaos life in NYC continued as normal during the weeks of the “police strike.” There were indications that petty crime and interpersonal violence actually declined during this time. Joints were smoked openly on the streets and street parties sprung up. However much “community organizers” and “left activists” are loath to admit it, policing-as-normal was not altered by community review boards, sensitivity training, protests or demonstrations. Policing as normal was halted for weeks by one man with a small caliber handgun.
The author(s) of Insurgencies 2 are willing to take unpopular (post-left?) positions:
First, Brinsley’s attack effected the most substantial disruption in the
coordinated oppression of minority americans by the authorities in
decades. Second, the narrative of social movements coming into conflict
with political authorities by way of the police does not accurately describe
the dynamics of conflicts between poor people and the police. Third, that
anti-social behavior should be expected and, to some degree, appreciated
as a desperate attempt to throw off the shackles of an oppressive and
cannibalizing social body. Fourth, that Brinsley’s so-called madness,
pathologies, and afflictions are anything but unusual and – as such – are
more recognizable as an inventory of the daily struggles of many of the
subaltern Black men who compose a fair percentage of those who resist
the good health and self-care of petty bourgeois hegemony.
Were Brinsley, and the more spectacular shooters in Dallas and Baton Rouge really nonideological? The ‘statements,’ are hard to misinterpret –
He saw his actions, to some extent as partisan soldiery – even if it is not
perfectly clear who he saw as his friends (Black people? Poor Black people?
The American people?) It is perfectly clear that he considers all police
officers to be his enemies.
It is unclear if the more recent actions in Dallas and Baton Rouge have resulted in a similar disruption of policing as occurred in NYC. But throughout the country, police departments of begun doubling up officers in patrol cars in cities where they usually work one to car, and sending multiple cars to each call. So it is fair to say disruption to policing has occurred not only in the cities of Dallas and Baton Rouge but nationwide. Again from the Insurgencies 2 journal – “We consider Security to be the conceptual opposite of Insurrection. Security supposes determination and predictability whereas Insurrection predicts the absence thereof.” This suggests the question, if the trend were to continue and intensify, at what point would the police, like the American army in Afghanistan in recent years, begin spending most of its resources in ‘force protection?’ And patrolling only en masse, a caravan of cop cars to every 911 call and disturbance. Could policing American cities continue in this way? Social control relies on presence, and the more cops that are at one location the fewer must be everywhere else.
Numerous police officials around the country have stated and sometimes faced criticism for saying, “We are at war.” It is ironic the police can admit ‘A continuation of politics by other means’ is occurring, but the liberal-left remain married their mantra of these actions being, take your pick – illegitimate, premature, unhelpful, crazy. As the author(s) of Insurgencies 2 point out, “The radical left, who are familiar with being painted as insane and irrelevant, seem even more eager to pathologize Brinsley than the mainstream media.”
Insurgencies 2 is highly recommended and available at littleblackcart.com