GUEST: Tarak Kauff, local activist and board member of the national Veterans For Peace, talks about his trips to Ferguson and the fight against racism in America.
"While holding a sign that said 'YOU ARE KILLING US' on one side and 'DON'T SHOOT' on the other, Sister Dragonfly approached a Ferguson officer and attempted to make eye contact. She implored him to look at her, and when their gaze connected, she asked, 'Why do you all hate us so much?' The officer responded, 'I don't hate you, ma'am.' She replied with 'I don't want to hate you, I'd rather hug you.' And when he said, 'Then hug me,' she promptly put her arms around him, and they embraced whole-heartedly for nearly a minute."
Our guest, Tarak Kauff, describes this emotional moment when a black protester and a white policeman, an Army veteran, decide not to hate each other and embrace. Are we on the left so focused on the racism of police officers that we discount the possibility of any change in their behavior? Young military volunteers went to Iraq and Afghanistan, where they sometimes did terrible things to innocent civilians. Are these men and women beyond all hope of redemption? Or as a young man said at the Winter Soldiers Testimony in Washington, DC, "I was a monster once, but I am not that monster any more."
As Tarak tells the story of this picture, he recounts what a young veteran said to the same police officer a few minutes before. "We called Iraqis 'sand niggers' and I don't want to be part of that racism over there or here in Ferguson." Veterans overcoming racism together.
Gary and I had a good discussion after Tarak's interview. His point was that racism always has an underpinning of financial exploitation. Common people get caught up in the racial hatred, but they are always being manipulated by the capitalist system.
I agreed, but wanted to look at racism as a moral issue as well. Whites and blacks, working together, can overcome. We can transcend hate and learn to love.