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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/11/16

Don't Just Blame the Cops: Who Is Responsible for America's Killing Fields?

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"I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today: my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent."--Martin Luther King Jr.

The latest shootings--in Texas, Minnesota, Louisiana, Illinois, New York, Missouri, and every other state in the nation--are symptomatic of a psychotic outbreak by a nation that has been waging a war against its own citizens for too long.

We have long since passed the stage at which a government of wolves would give rise to a nation of sheep. As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People that what we now have is a government of psychopaths that is actively breeding a nation of psychopathic killers.

We're getting distracted, people.

Instead of focusing our ire on the architects of the American police state, who are responsible for turning the streets into mini-war zones, we're getting distracted by the many voices eager to play the blame game by pointing their fingers at someone else.

Police groups are blaming President Obama and the Justice Department for failing to prosecute "cop killers." Texas Republicans are blaming the Black Lives Matter movement for fomenting a "war on cops" mindset. Gun-control advocates are blaming "gun lovers and their mouthpieces at the National Rifle Association" for America's gun violence, reasoning that if all Americans were unarmed, police would not have to treat them as potential threats.

News outlets such as Rolling Stone and Mother Jones have concluded that racial bias is to blame for the "disproportionately high number of African-Americans among police shooting victims." The Drug Enforcement Administration has suggested that illegal steroid use could be responsible for "police officers who exhibit rage, aggression and/or poor judgment (all symptoms of possible steroid abuse) in confrontations with citizens."

Human Rights Watch blames police misconduct and excessive use of force on a systemic lack of accountability within law-enforcement agencies and the criminal-justice system. And civil-rights advocates are blaming police militarization and the abundance of laws (overcriminalization) pushed by lawmakers for the nation's over-policing, over-jailing, and over-killing.

Yet in the midst of all this finger pointing, no one is stepping forward to take responsibility for the violence that is tearing the nation apart, deepening racial tensions, heightening police tensions, justifying all manner of civil-liberties abuses, and pushing us ever closer to a state of lock-down.

Shame on President Obama for not taking personal responsibility for the blowback resulting from America's endless wars abroad, the militarization of local police, and the ramifications of allowing police to use battlefield equipment such as drones, assault weapons, tanks, etc. How telling that the first domestic killing of an American citizen by a drone (in this case, a bomb-equipped police robot) should be carried out during the final term of a president whose targeted drone killings abroad have resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians.

Shame on Congress and the countless federal and state policy-making bodies for not taking responsibility for the overabundance of laws that have turned law-abiding citizens into criminals and police into the inflexible enforcers of a legal code that benefits the corporate elite at the expense of the working classes.

Shame on Corporate America, particularly the military-industrial complex, for not taking responsibility for having militarized America's police forces and subjected its citizenry to the tyranny of a heavily armed police state.

Shame on the various government agencies, from the FDA and Social Security Administration to the Department of Education, for not taking responsibility for ratcheting-up tensions by using military firepower to advance their bureaucratic agendas.

Shame on Republicans and Democrats for not taking responsibility for having sidelined legitimate matters of concern such as police misconduct in favor of party politics and campaign contributions from special-interest groups and unions.

Shame on the courts for not taking responsibility for allowing government agents to hide behind the shield of qualified immunity, rather than being held accountable for their actions.

Shame on law-enforcement agencies for advancing the notion that the lives--and rights--of police should be valued more than citizens. Shame on them for not taking responsibility for allowing blind allegiance to the so-called "thin, blue line" to trump the constitutional rights afforded to every American equally.

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John W. Whitehead is an attorney and author who has written, debated and practiced widely in the area of constitutional law and human rights. Whitehead's aggressive, pioneering approach to civil liberties has earned him numerous accolades and (more...)

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