Part I. Seldom can a society seriously question itself; even less often can it honestly criticize itself and almost never can it openly and self-consciously condemn itself, either for the evil and horrible things done in history or the callous and unconscionable things done and practiced in the present. And so, it is unlikely this city or society will seize the opportunity to engage in a serious self-questioning and criticism, let alone condemnation, around the cause, creation and killing of Christopher Dorner.
Usually such tasks are assigned by history and heaven, to prophets and progressives, radicals and revolutionaries who stand up in the midst of silence and suppression to question, criticize and condemn the wrong and injustice, the open horrors and hidden harms society inflicts, generates and regularly justifies in numerous self-deluding ways. And, of course, these courageous and committed persons are routinely denounced and discredited in various places, persecuted and punished and often killed.
Also, sometimes there emerges from the lower ranks of the most loyal citizens, members who lose faith and feel the “societal god” or its best representative has failed them. For they feel it has unjustly persecuted and punished them and expelled them from the in-club Eden, even though they had done their duty well and given so much. And so they lose it, snap, declare war, and rage and rampage with deadly consequences for others and themselves. Such a citizen is/was Christopher Dorner: ex-policemen; former gung-ho guardian of society; previous defender of the wall against foreign and domestic enemies, real and redefined or imagined and accidental. And as he said in his declaration of war, he was an American by choice and 100% supportive of the American government. He was thus, a preferred and perfect candidate for policeman-“true-blue (Black) American” with a military background and the capacity for control and killing, suppression and targeting which this experience had given him and the police department could put to use.
But according to reports and his declaration of war, although he was deeply involved and committed to his profession, he seemingly could not adjust to the racist subculture in his ranks; would not accept racial abuse as an entry fee to the club; and would not observe the blue code of silence when he saw fellow officers abusing the people through hate speech or gratuitous and indiscriminate violence. Also, one sees in his declaration of war his love for and commitment to popular culture and the general American way of life, affirming his allegiance and support of country, and offering praise to former President Bush, kudos and counsel for a long list of public personalities and personal friends, mentors and associates.
It is easy and no doubt relieving to the police, media and many, if not most Americans, to demonize, denounce and dismiss Dorner as disturbed and dangerous to the point of deserving the fiery death sentence meted out to him which turned his last-stand cabin into a coffin of fire. Indeed, one can only imagine the fraternal joy and shouts of victory as the “burn plan” unfolded and Dorner’s “scary”, “terrifying” and “terrorizing” reversal of order, where the hunters were hunted, came to a blazing and relieving end.
We, of course, were among those who would not watch it. For it brought back memories of past racial blood rituals of burnings, summary executions and caveman exorcisms; the lynchings and burnings of Black people in and out of houses, forests, fields, churches and other chosen and convenient places. And we remembered the firebombing of the MOVE headquarters in Philadelphia and the neighborhood it was in and Rosewood, Tulsa and other Black communities burned down and destroyed. And even if the “perpetrators” justify it in policy and law, it has no place in a society that repeatedly brags and brays about being civilized, moral and even minimally respectful of the dignity and rights of human persons.
As conversations and discourse on social media reveal and corporate media report with disbelief and alarm, there are mixed emotions of support and understanding, as well as criticism and condemnation of Dorner among those who have suffered police racist abuse and violence. There is clearly a condemnation of the killing of innocents with which Dorner was charged. This position comes from the same moral sentiment of condemnation of the killing of innocents by armies, police, gang members or various other gun wielders gone wild and who take innocent life by intentional targeting or killing at random for whatever reason. And, of course, there is a repeated wish expressed that he would have raised his case and pursued his cause in another less deadly and indiscriminate way.
There are also reservations about his political consciousness and commitment beyond personal feelings of betrayal and single focus on recovery of his reputation, tarnished by what he considered an unjust ruling and wrongful termination. He certainly also problematized sentiment for himself by praising Bush and focusing on pursuing a Djangonian personal revenge, rather than arguing for the need for collective resistance to racism and White supremacy in every institution and area of society. Nevertheless, there are positive feelings for Dorner, especially among those, who in their dealings with police, have experienced abuse and violence or had nasty encounters and narrow escapes. (To be continued.)