Thursday, August 18, 2016

Is That Man's Head On Fire?

Cormac McCarthy is killing me, man.

In a delicious and emotionally wrenching way.

Just finished - not five minutes ago - "The Crossing" - the second novel in his Border trilogy.

You may remember my rantings about "All The Pretty Horses" - the first installment. Then again maybe not - it is possible you have more important things in your life.

Fucking books are knocking me out. Powerful, emotional, deeply philosophical - beautifully written. Books that I lay down in my lap from time to time to recover from a sentence or paragraph so amazingly composed that I gotta catch my breath.

Or to recover from a point of view or philosophy of life that resonates with my own perspective at the level of my soul.

Jesus H. Christ.

In fact I have been riding an emotional roller coaster for three books in a row. In between "Horses" and "Crossing" I read "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration In The Age of Colorblindness".

That book ripped my guts out with truth. The truth of just how cruel our society is and how evil are the power brokers of this country in their campaign to keep the black man down and make his life a living hell and prevent him from participating in a false society that pays lip service to "liberty and justice for all."

The author makes a compelling case that a direct and consistent line can be drawn from slavery to Jim Crow to today's mass incarceration courtesy of "the war on drugs" as ways for the favored elite to subjugate black people.

So many stats overwhelmed me. Like the fact that whites purchase as many if not more drugs than blacks but the number of blacks arrested and imprisoned for drug related crimes is sky high compared to whites.

That the war on drugs specifically targets impoverished areas. That police have virtually unchecked power to stop and search people, and the unspoken reason for doing so is overwhelmingly due to racial profiling.

That prosecutors have more power in our clogged criminal justice system than judges, and they wield that power viciously, taking advantage of lack of money and lack of education to force people into situations that are unjust and life destroying.

That once convicted of a federal crime peoples' lives are essentially ruined. It becomes almost impossible to get a job, they are cut off from public housing and other financial support, they cannot vote, they cannot serve on a jury.

The result is an endless cycle of prison and parole. They cannot support themselves so they turn to crime, get busted again and go back.

In order to make the war on crime appear to be a success, federal grants were authorized to reward police forces for high conviction rates. The Pentagon contributed equipment to police as a reward for high conviction rates, which is why our cities look like war zones with tanks, armored vehicles and high powered guns. The police can seize "crime properties", sell them off and keep the proceeds.

These policies were put in place to get results, not to get justice.

In 1984 when Reagan made his push for the war on drugs the number of people in prison was a tiny fraction of what it is today and the public in general did not consider drug related crimes to be a major issue.

Reagan's policies and those of presidents who followed created the massive injustice of our present mass incarceration reality. And they did it to make money and to continue this country's rich history of prejudice and subjugation of black and brown people.

If you have the guts, read this book. And take your head out of your ass.

Anyway, I am rolling and bumbling along on a sea of emotion created by the written word.

I don't know what I will read next. I now have eleven books to choose from.

It won't be the last installment of the Border trilogy. I can't do that. That is not the way I work. I gotta break it up.

But if I keep going the way I am going my head is going to self incinerate.

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