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Practical realities whether we like them or not.

Defund the Police is setting the twittersphere all noisy. I prefer the term “demilitarize” but that attracted a lot of insistently earnest tweeters who say it has to be DEFUND or nothing.

Ok, let it be nothing then. It will be the 2020 version of Medicare for All. Medicare for All sounds like a fix for all that ails us, pun intended. But there are other types of national health care programs that might work as well or better for the U.S. Maybe we could allow more people into Medicare or Medicaid. Maybe we can create a real public option. Oo! Oo! I know! Maybe we could try real cost control and regulation of hospital prices. That’s something that Obama never even considered when he duct taped the ACA together. It’s just when you say it has to be Medicare for All or nothing, you might just end up with… nothing. The reason is, you probably can’t win the election if you don’t present workable alternatives. And if you can’t win elections, you got no power to do squat.

Same with “Defund the Police”. If I were a right wing operative and that phrase didn’t already exist, I would have to invent it. Then I would create sock puppet accounts on all social media outlets posing as young, earnest, Bernie lefty voters and whip that sucker to death. I’d jump on anyone who wants to slow this down and think it over carefully and consider the pros and cons for each city.

Demilitarize is a much easier case to make. And why is that? It’s because the police and their paramilitary budgets swelled in the aftermath of 9/11 and the Patriot Act. Did the local police departments have to become their own armies? We thought so. We thought we would be fighting off terrorists, or at least that’s how it was sold to us. That didn’t really materialize because it turns out that we got better with national security and intelligence.

So, we ended up with police departments armed and trained to take down terrorists and no terrorists. Plus, racial tensions were deliberately inflamed by the right wing media (oh, let me count the ways) and the person who claims to be our current president.

We have seen what they do. They are prepped to see anyone as a threat to the American way of life. The problem was there before George Floyd. Yes, black citizens have been massively and disproportionally targeted. But in the last week, we have seen that anyone can be made to submit with varying degrees of pain and bodily harm. This is a predictable outcome. It’s like giving someone like Trump access yo the nuclear football and fielding his question about “why do we even have nukes if we’re not going to use them??”.

If you were an overarmed cop given a target, and a narrative that all black people are potential threats and no good wasteful takers of taxpayer dollars, what would YOU do?

If you have unaccountable power, it takes a very principled, disciplined person to not use it. We shouldn’t have militarized the police. For that matter, I have a problem with remote control drones killing people in war zones too. It’s way too easy to start seeing wedding parties as terrorist training grounds. And who knows? Maybe they are. But to kill people like this without facing them when they are too far away to be physical threats to us feels more like an execution. I think you should face your adversaries for a fight to be fair.

Think about that for a minute. Aren’t we all weirded out by that rag tag justice department “federal” forces battalion who watched over Trump’s babygate? They should have been clearly marked and identifiable. Otherwise, there is no way to hold bad actors accountable.

I think the vast majority of voters can agree with this. Police should be demilitarized and forced to take it down a notch. They need an attitude adjustment. And with all the money we would NOT give them for hummers and other equipment of war, we could reallocate to making neighborhoods safer by addressing the root causes of crime.

If you keep pushing Defund the Police, you are going to make a lot of voters very uneasy. It sounds like firing police and whole departments and leaving citizens vulnerable to criminals. It takes more time to explain that’s not what you mean and by then their Fox News thought stopping programs will start running and they’ll be accusing you of being Antifa. (PSA: Antifa is not an organization in any traditional sense of the word. In broad terms, Antifa stands for anti-fascist. Find me a person who is anti anti-fascist and you should avoid that person like coronavirus.)

Anyway, you can’t save anyone or make structural changes unless you 1.) have a successful revolution or 2.) win elections. If you start a revolution without first demilitarizing the police, you will have a very difficult time winning elections. With the current people in charge crackdowns and canceled elections will happen. You can bet on it. Who’s going to stop them? So, the practical reality is that we need to win elections. And we’re not going to win elections by making voters fear for their personal safety.

So, demilitarize the police.

In the category of what should be a completely unnecessary post.

Yesterday, Robin Givhan at WaPo wrote a piece about the white House of Representatives members who took a knee while wearing Kente cloths that were gifted them by the Congressional Black Caucus.

Instead of writing something that was relevant to the fashion beat she covers, like “everybody looks good in a Kente cloth”, Givhan went on for way too many paragraphs lecturing readers about how those clueless white reps did not even consider how those scarves came from GHANA. GHANA is a country in AFRICA. The Kente cloth has a rich tradition and meaning and damn it, those reps are culturally appropriating it. Why didn’t they think before they put them on?? Who did they think they were? Omg, somebody please give Ghana a heads up. It hasn’t been this ill treated since the US sent Shirley Temple as an ambassador.

Before you start lecturing me that I’m beginning to sound like JK Rowling pointing out that there is a word for “people who menstruate”, let me just say I’m not at all saying that Givhan didn’t have a point. I just mean to say she should have stopped with saying that the cloths are from Africa and maybe offered some fashion tips on when and how to wear one. As a scarf? Definitely. They seem to enhance everyone’s complexion and show respect for black lives. As a tie? Ehhh… not so much.

{{excuse me while I yell at all of you wearing pink ribbons}}

But here’s why I think Givhan isn’t doing her f#%*ing job. Culturally appropriating cloth objects to show support for a cause has precedent. Back in the 90s, all of Manhattan it seemed was wearing Keffiyehs as scarves.

In case you didn’t know, keffiyehs are those Arab headdresses that people like Yassar Arafat used to wear. For the younguns out there, Yassar Arafat was the leader of the Palestinians who was one of the people that US presidents negotiated with to bring about Mideast peace before the big orange sent Jared to do it – or to figure out a way of squeezing the gulf states out of some much needed loan money. (Nice progressive oil state you got there with US bases on it. Be a shame if something happened to it)

Yassar Arafat died some years ago but back in the 90s, the Palestinians who were crammed into refugee camps in Gaza and elsewhere had an uprising called an Intifada. Yep, Manhattan, where you can find as many Jews as there are in Israel (may be an exaggeration but you get my point) started to feel that maybe the crackdown on Palestinians back then might be excessive and counterproductive. So a lot of New Yorkers started wearing keffiyehs to show their support for the intifada and as a way to call attention to the humanity of the Palestinians.

Here is an example of how to wear a keffiyeh as a scarf:

They come in a variety of colors, black and white or cream being the most prominent combinations. You can dress them up as you see here with oversized glasses and a statement bag. Or pair them with a black T for a comfortably chic laid back look as this dude from NJ in a band called Arizona shows us.

You know, he was probably a little kid in elementary school during the intifada. Maybe he doesn’t even know why we wear scarves like this but I know and I’m sure a lot of coastal elites remember those keffiyehs when they see them and still support an end to hostilities in the Middle East with a two state solution. Take that Jared.

All fashion is derivative. No matter what you’re wearing, you can be sure that someone three thousand years ago was wearing it first either as a part of their folk tradition or as a symbol of conquest. These days, we can track the origins and tell the story behind the keffiyeh and the kente cloth. Those are good stories, Robin. They show our humanity for other human beings and our determination to support people who fight for freedom from oppression.

What we need isn’t a lecture and tut tutting about cultural appropriation. What we need are suggestions for how we can show them off to their best advantage so that they become the colors of our landscape in this election year.

****************

And now, more of that hottie in his keffiyeh. Betcha can’t watch this video now without thinking of Palestine. That’s how effective a piece of clothing can be. (you can buy them on amazon):