Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Soiling of "Old Glory"

The hell that was the Boston bombing has only just begun. Conspiracy theorists who don’t need a shred of evidence for their wild-assed assertions are already spewing out false flag scenarios complete with fake blood & installing prosthetic amputations on the scene. Media, especially sports writers, are spewing anthemic toasts to the spirit of Boston, to the toughness & fortitude of its residents, & to the 2014 “retaking of Heartbreak Hill.” They sermonize: ‘The Boston Marathon must go on & if it needs to be under martial law, then so be it!’ The loathsome thing about all this glory & conspiracy mongering is that getting to the bottom of what happened & why is of the greatest importance because you cannot effect change if you don’t have the story straight. Who writes the history controls the future.

One speculation that isn’t reckless & we can bank on is that this bombing will be used to orchestrate more Islamophobia, greater harassment of Black & brown people, more surveillance of immigrant communities--all of which are already at alarming levels & not just in Boston. But it is particularly threatening in Boston which remains one of the most segregated US cities with a legacy of violent racist opposition to desegregated public education.

During the decade-long struggle of the 1970s to desegregate public schools in Boston, white mobs taunted, attacked, & threw rocks at Black school children. Black & white children were often forced to enter schools by different doors. Cordons of state troopers surrounded schools every day to allow safe passage for Black children against rabid white mobs. Not only were most sporting events cancelled but white parents boycotted schools & periodically forced the closure of schools with their violence. Many people were confused by the Boston desegregation battles & refused to side with Black school children against white violence. Political activities in their defense were difficult to organize.

In 2008, Boston Public Schools were 76% Black & Latino & 14% white. South Boston, the white neighborhood & epicenter of this racist opposition, now has the highest concentration of white poverty in the US, with astronomical rates of dropouts & juvenile deaths due to murder, overdose, & criminal activity. South Boston High School was declared dysfunctional by the State Board of Education. Rancid & powerful testimony to the efficacy of “divide & conquer!”

We cannot let our voices be drowned out by a resurgence of the violent, racist spirit of Boston but must evoke the anti-racist & abolitionist spirit of Boston which is also part of its historic legacy. This begins with clarity about which side are we on.

In this iconic prize-winning photo titled “The Soiling of Old Glory” from 1976, a white teenager is assaulting Theodore Landsmark, a Black lawyer & civil-rights activist exiting Boston City Hall using a US flagpole.

No to racial profiling! No to racist violence! No to martial law!

(Photo by Stanley Forman)

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