Friday, July 17, 2015

Dignity is a Negotiation With Culture

With all the news about innocent black men and women being mercilessly slaughtered by uniformed government officials and black places of worship burning carefree in the streets while white people pat themselves on the back about disliking a dissolved confederacy, it's interesting to reflect on this interview with Kerry Noble of the Covenant, the Sword, and the Arm of the Lord.  CSA was part of the Christian Identity Movement of the 1980s and an avowed domestic terrorist/white supremacist group. Noble was at one time the #2 of this highly militarized group that believed the federal government was trying to eliminate Christian thought.  The group trained and planned for a massive violent revolution against the federal government, as well as against the Jewish, black, and gay communities, a notion that thankfully never came to fruition.

In the interview, Noble is sedate and affable when describing the siege.  He even praises the way the SWAT forces handled it, noting that many of the agents pulled them aside and expressed sympathy to their beliefs (whether that is eschatological Christianity or white supremacy remains to be seen, but it's easy to imagine both).  It was a perfect arrest amongst perfect gentlemen.  The special forces were even careful to respect their property, treating these white supremacist terrorists with full dignity.  Nobody killed and left to rot in the street.  No one caught in a crossfire or taken for a rough ride or found hanged in a cell or choked to death for sass.

I'm not saying that the CSA arrest is not the best case scenario of how a situation like this should go down, but it's a massive riposte to the determinism that preaches that we should expect aggression and violence from law enforcement officers who feel threatened by the public.  There were likely hundreds of opportunities for this siege against frothing white racists to turn into a bloodbath, and yet it didn't.  One can't help but wonder how much skin color was the deciding factor in that.   And you can't chalk this up to a sign of the times either; this incident took place 30 years ago at the height of the war on drugs when brown-skinned men across the country were having their doors busted, homes invaded, bodies broken, lives taken, and personhood erased, often when there weren't even any drugs in the house.

It should be noted that Noble did a complete 180 in terms of his personal views after his arrest on weapons charges.  Before that, he had planned to orchestrate a massacre of 50 or so LGBTQ men and women in a gay church in Kansas City but had a change of heart partway into the ceremony when he saw how devout and serious the gay parishioners were in their worship.  He now occasionally speaks on hate groups on behalf of human rights organizations.

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