“First we must study how colonization works to decivilize the colonizer, to brutalize him in the true sense of the word, to degrade him, to awaken him to buried instincts, to covetousness, violence, race hatred, and moral relativism; and we must show that each time a head is cut off or an eye put out in Vietnam and in France they accept the fact, each time a little girl is raped and in France they accept the fact, each time a Madagascan is tortured and in France they accept the fact, civilization acquires another dead weight, a universal regression takes place, a gangrene sets in, a center of infection begins to spread; and that at the end of all these treaties that have been violated, all these lies that have been propagated, all these punitive expeditions that have been tolerated, all these prisoners who have been tied up and “interrogated, all these patriots who have been tortured, at the end of all the racial pride that has been encouraged, all the boastfulness that has been displayed, a poison has been instilled into the veins of Europe and, slowly but surely, the continent proceeds toward savagery.” (Aime Cesaire)
The words were written in 1955 by a poet. Aime Cesaire. A book called ‘A Discourse on Colonialism.’ In a way, the words explain the world, as it is today. In America, for Black Americans (Black America); the situation in Palestine, and other places, to widespread to name. Yet, these two are on our tongues and in our hearts today.
Those handing out the beatings, the shooting deaths, the oppression, those justifying in some way what they are doing to another group collectively, never pause to think what they are doing to themselves. The goal post gets moved. New lines are drawn. All in the name of power and control and/or as Cesaire mentions — “racial pride.”
Police shoot a black man dead today, an unarmed black man, and immediately they seek to make it make sense, to demonstrate that the killing was justified. This is the slow walk Cesaire is describing. “A culture of compromise,” an ex-police officer told me. In Israel, we see it again. Dead people everywhere. Wounded people everywhere. A dead baby, gassed to death. And, the spin begins, the jusification. This is how we dehumanize ourselves and move to savagery. This is the way of the world to some degree, the worst of it. Many of us acknowledge the experience of the Jewish people but there are many who do not agree despite that history. And yet, it doesn’t matter; as Cesaire notes, we know where this is headed regardless. It would be wise to take a step back (everyone) and take stock of our choices and what we will allow to happen.