500 Words: Wait, Wut? #4
The President needs a warning label
|Lee Schneider||May 29, 2020|
Welcome to the web version of 500 Words, a place for 500-word essays and creative risks. I’m posting about what happens as we slowly accept the impossible. When you see posts that are numbered, they are part of a series. To receive the posts in order as they come out, just click the button below. You’ll receive 500 words of short-form goodness in your inbox once a week.
Seeing a police station on fire in Minneapolis pushed me into a time tunnel of older times and protests. Haven’t we done all this already? Marching in the streets, fire hoses and dogs, pepper spray, police killing an unarmed black man, brutal governments, clueless presidents? Authority that knows only brutality? Power that doesn't know how to lead humanely?
The President advocated violence on Twitter yesterday.
Twitter labeled his Tweet because it violated its terms of service. You aren’t supposed to glorify violence on Twitter. They didn’t take the post down, because Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO, believes it’s important to see what the President says. But when 45 posts misinformation, outright lies, or when he glorifies violence, it should be labeled, Jack decided. Something is happening here. A moment we can label with a small blue exclamation point like the one Jack used. Twitter has often tried to cast itself as a neutral party. We just distribute this shit, but we aren’t responsible for it. But even Twitter realized that it can't stand by and let the fire burn unchecked. Unarmed black men like George Floyd are dying under the knee of white law enforcement. Someone we might in better times look up to, the supposed leader of our country, who should project a higher purpose and a better way, is advocating violence against those who protest brutality.
While covering the protest in Minneapolis, a CNN crew was arrested because they were on the scene. The reporter, Omar Jimenez, who is black, identified himself to police as a reporter, was polite, and officers took him into custody anyway. CNN says that another reporter, who is white, was allowed by police to keep doing their job.
Wait, wut? There are no sidelines. Your press pass doesn’t grant you bystander status. We have entered a time tunnel, or an evil funhouse with mirrors warping us into the past. Just guessing here, but most everything that brave people have already fought for will need to be fought for again. Civil rights. Human rights. A woman’s right over her body. The right to vote. The right to be in public while black.
Power, if successful, swiftly learns how to keep itself in power. Today, we’ve passed the point of oh, this is a clown show, or what a dumpster fire. The street protests have started. The buildings are burning. The sidelines vanish as we are swept into the time tunnel, our feet pulled from under us, the walls spinning. The floor turns into the ceiling. There is a tiny point of light at the other end that might represent the exit.
It may be possible to accept the impossible with grace and some resignation. But it’s good to know that some among us are not accepting this.