Independence Day National Day of Protest

June 1, 2020

…. at which a National Day of Atonement Is Called For!

The precipitous collapse of the American economy is not a recent development. It is merely the avalanche that began with the revision of the U.S. tax code under Ronald Reagan’s administration. The massive transfer of wealth to the upper one percent, and especially to the upper one-tenth of that one percent has left a plurality of Americans in an extremely vulnerable position. The commonly cited statistic is that 40 percent of Americans do not have the immediate resources to address an emergency bill of $400. Many of them are “under the lion’s pawn” of credit card companies, who have operated with impunity the past three years. The average credit card interest rate is now 18 percent, compared to 12 percent a decade ago. One misstep by a debtor pushes that rate into the mid-20 percent range.

While the vehemence of the protests over George Floyd’s summary execution by a police officer will probably fade by mid-month, my hope would be that a massive, nation-wide day of protest begin to be organized for July 4th, which falls on a Saturday. The organizers of the peaceful protests that have taken place throughout this country this past week should demand that police officials meet with them and sign agreements about where the protests will be held and the security that will be provided for those protestors. The events should be held in areas removed from businesses and commerce, so that the police cannot move against the protestors using the excuse of protecting property. The police could then focus their energies, in fact, on those who choose to exploit the occasion by engaging in looting. The protests should be saturated with media attention that will record the activities of the minimal police force present at the events of the peaceful protests.

I am no doubt naive in believing that the factions of our society who hold the power of literal as well as economic life and death over the communities of color in this nation will allow such events to take place. They would prefer that this country return to “normal” as soon as possible, and that those of us who understand Floyd’s death as a call to the genocidal impulses of the white supremacism simply go away and be quiet. The “moratorium” of the Pandemic, however, has culminated in an instance too egregious to permit the “new normal” to gain pervasive legitimacy.

This nation will not begin to heal until it establishes a “holy” day of atonement; a national holiday marked with ceremonies and rituals in which we as a nation solemnly acknowledge the systemic ideological perverseness of our history and make efforts to atone for those errors. It is time for us to make use of our nation’s history. The vote to approve the Declaration of Independence took place not on July 4th, but July 2nd. I propose, therefore, that July 2nd be established as this National Day of ATONEment, in which ATONE is an acronym for “Americans Taking Opportunities to Nourish Equality.”

It would hardly make a dent in the disparities that have infected our nation’s consciousness as a political project, but until such a start is made, I see no hope for any eventual substantial transformation.

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