In 1896, at the beginning of the second British assault on the Ashanti people, writes historian Sven Lindqvist, a Robert Baden-Powell marches his troops straight into Kumasi. Ashanti, men and women have been defending their homeland against a British invasion for years. Now, in Kumasi, for Baden-Powell, the future founder of the Boy Scouts, writes Lindqvist, the fun begins.
The Ashanti people decorated themselves and their homes in gold. Gold was a thing in that part of Africa. There would be plenty to go around, and, for sure, the Ashanti would have suggested as much to the invaders. But despite the many battles waged on home soil for the right to practice certain rituals and forgo others, the British had no interest in being guest and in sharing Earth's resources with the Africans. The defeated.
Baden-Powell orders the arrest of the king and his mother while he seats himself atop crates of biscuit tins. When the two stand before him, he orders them to "crawl on all fours." Someone from the invading party thought it amusing to draw the scene.
What is it that Baden-Powell recognizes as giving him the right to shut down his empathy, to see in the Ashanti a savage people and in their king a degenerate leader, fit for "subjugation" to the British Empire? What is that he and his troops carry with them, like a disease, if not a cult of death? Baden-Powell doesn't value human life. He doesn't value Black life, for sure. But he values no life. His dedication to humiliating and demoralizing the people he invades will contribute to maintaining the British Empire's control over material resources as well as the Ashanti, a people he's been taught to despise and recognize as less than human.
In 2020, is it still expected that Indigenous, Latinx, and Blacks follow the incoming administration and "reach across the aisle" to the Baden-Powells of this era? We've witnessed vigilantes making themselves visible, again, and sporting long rifles and assault weapons, they've appeared at rallies, in front of city halls, and at voting polls, shouting about freedom and their rights while intimidating Black and Latinx voters. We're expected to shake hands with the MEGA-hat-wearing American who refuses to accept their existence within a multiracial world for a photo-opt and a feel-good-story the neoliberal media then disseminates, despite the massive disinformation on social media about Blacks, Latinx, and Indigenous people.
How hard is it to come to grips with the fact that justice isn't the reason the carriers of long rifles come out into the streets? Love of racial diversity doesn't make Americans join militia organizations.
Why bow to lost causes? Relics, like so many Confederate monuments and flags.
I don't see how this country moves forward if the new Biden-Harris administration thinks it's good politics to negotiate with the fervor of anti-humanism while activists and organizers sacrifice to bring about justice in criminal justice, equity in the workplace, healthcare for all, free education, and an end to poverty, homelessness, dependence on fossil fuel" Those fighting for and with humanity are asked to bow to what?
So for those who want to see democracy in this nation to be called "extremists" only serves an ideology that has contempt for life! Can a straight line be drawn from Baden-Powell to "the Squad"?
In the New World, look for Baden-Powell's descendants in Andrew Jackson, Bull Connors, David Duke, Mitch McConnell. When Trump's supporters show up armed to a voting poll to intimidate Black, Latinx, and Indigenous voters, see Baden-Powell. The false charges of illegal voting, only among Black, Latinx, and Indigenous people voters, and the calls for recounts of votes from predominately Black and Latinx cities, don't bother to conceal the chain linking the British Empire of yesterday and the American Empire today. When I see that 55% of white women in America would rather stand with Trump, p*ssy-grabbing Trump, racist Trump, than would stand with Stacy Abrams or Cori Bush, I see advocates clinging to a legacy of death, deep within the American mindset.
If the death of Black people is required for this legacy of death to live, to return America to its "greatness," why should any Black or any person of color in America give in?
How alive can anyone be who demands the subjugation of other human beings?
Black lives matter, yes, but all Blacks aren't advocates of life, not all Blacks see in nature a kinship and a home. Polluting water and air, destroying human or other species habitats for profiteering or sport is extremist behavior. And profitable! Resurrecting war hawks is extremist behavior. And profitable! Collaborators and gatekeepers receive compensation in the 21 st Century as they did in the 19 th Century as overseers on the plantations.
To be as cold as any military-minded corporation, sitting in wait for the first boom of "shock and awe," and rushing with contract papers to negotiate the digging of oil, of lithium, of whatever--this is extremist behavior. And very profitable for Black opportunists, too. Bowing before corporate rule has signaled to white supremacists the willingness of the marginalized to remain contently a defeated people.
We have witnessed enough history, however, to know that we mustn't bow but remain standing. Plenty of Black, Latinx, and Indigenous people before us defied the order to crawl on all fours. We have come to this moment on the shoulders of Sitting Bull, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Malcolm X, Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, Martin L. King"
We are marching now, moving this country toward democracy. So for anyone truly determined to make of this country something it has never been, that is, democratic, for anyone to say to Blacks, Latinx, and Indigenous people, wait, white nationalists are angry, stop, let's move back, reach across the aisle, give a big smile to the MEGA-hat wearer, well, you wait! We'll organize to move forward.
The new incoming Democratic administration is an opportunity for Americans who are progressive, if focused on the human right to life, and freeing ourselves from a culture of greed, hate, and indifference.
What's so "extreme" about advocating for human rights?