Why Phillipe Copeland is a Genius

Who'd have thought a post on my serious challenges with anger management would evolve into such a great conversation about so many other issues?

I really appreciated this comment left yesterday by Phillipe Copeland from Baha'i Thought. He really shifted the lens through which I was seeing the conversation and took it to a whole other level. Clearly, we can see why he's a genius. Phillipe says:

"The Sean Bell thing is tragic on so many levels, not just for him but for the police officers as well. What do I mean? We have a society that is grossly unjust but very clever at keeping things that way. One way is to create a class of folks, most of whom come from working class and poor backgrounds themselves to "police" other poor and working class people. Meanwhile people with ridiculous amounts of wealth go on accumulating it all the while being protected by the sons and daughters of people less well off, both domestically (the police) and internationally (the military). The wheel just keeps turning and Sean Bells keep ending up dead, while the cops get attacked reinforcing their lack of consciousness of their own exploitation further fueling the process. I think part of what must happen is rather than attacking the police is to engage in a critical dialog that will assist at least some of them to wake up to their location in the social hierarchy so that they could start to work towards changing that. Otherwise you essentially have the same old game which is working class and poor folks divided against each other so that they cannot effectively unite for a better society. Just a thought."

You see why I read his blog? You see why he's getting a Ph.D.? Thanks for keeping it real, Phillipe.


Sundry said…
Thanks for giving me one of those wonderful moments when I step back and take a look at something from a broader perspective and feel like some of the dreck of my own boxed up little perspective has been wiped away.

Had this experience yesterday, too, while listening to Dan Carlin's Hardcore History interview with the amazing James Burke. If you have a few minutes check out "A Fly on James Burke's Wall" at http://www.podcastalley.com/podcast_details.php?pod_id=37704
Ian Lidster said…
Phillipe is, of course, quite right, Liz. The thing I find chilling about this is that the kinds of inequities in society and the levels of corruption we poor saps are willing to accept are reminiscent of the societal scenes prior to the French Revolution or Russian Revolution. I think a lot of the 'crap' abroad in the land is just the thin edge of the wedge and it will get worse before it gets better. And I see no political will in either your country or mine to change the conditions. Why should politicians change the fractious elements, they work for them?
Anonymous said…
Liz, I think it's still fair to criticise individual officers who've acted badly - like, how can fifty bullets possibly be justified by a feeling of physical danger? But it's also true that we're seeing the old divide-and-rule tactic of keeping ordinary people fighting each other and not the real enemy, the wealthy elites who sponge off everyone else.

Yes, it would be good if the police identified with the people they were policing and combined with them in political opposition, but the police everywhere seem to get a thorough training in seeing everyone else as potential villains and criminals who have to be suppressed. A hard mind-set to change.
thailandchani said…
Yep... he's a genius! Right on!

It reminds me of a dynamic that took place during the Holocaust. While incarcerated in the camps, the Nazis would appoint certain prisoners, called "kapos" to police their own. After enough time, they would begin to adopt the values of their oppressors. There's actually quite a bit of literature on this.
Nick well said the mind set is very difficult to change and the inappropriate actions of police officers should be addressed. It's not an either situation but a both/and situation. To a certain degree this mind set is common amongst the middle class in general and many poor folks as well, the police have a particular contribution they make in sustaining inequalities again not so much through conscious acts but simply through not viewing their interests and the poor and working class as being similar. Of course this is a generalization and I'm sure there are police officers who are conscious of the complexities of the role they play in society. This whole issue is a tough nut to crack for sure, a question is where does one begin?
And this is why I come to your blog (besides to partake in your OWN socially aware entries), but you also know so many cool people! I was listening to my itunes originals: New Order downloads and it made me think of you and Depeche Mode. I heart New Order.
Anonymous said…
That's delicious.

I believe that when we perpetrate violence and injustice, it marks us in deep and unhealable ways. The victims will heal, but the perpetrators? We all suffer the stain.

Thanks for sharing such brilliant thought.
Anonymous said…
wow insightful!
Liz Dwyer said…
That's exactly the sentiment I had after I read his comment. It was a total "A-ha" moment. Thanks for the link to the podcast. I'll check it out because I love history, especially when it tells what REALLY happened instead of myth passed off as history!

There are a whole lot of similarities between current conditions and a whole bunch of pre-revolution situations. Would there have even been a French Revolution without peasants starving due to being unable to even afford bread? Last night I went to the store and a loaf of bread was $4.29! I couldn't believe it!

I definitely think it's fair to criticize individual officers too and hold them to the highest standard of justice because that's the oath they sign. Another thought I had, but which I don't know enough about, is how police forces that don't carry guns work to know how they deal with folks without the option of shooting them. I'm sure it has to be hard since the criminals clearly have guns to use on the officers.

That same methodology is what enables internalized oppression in the African-American community to continue. Same in South Africa. You don't officially need apartheid in place because the people have been trained to destroy and hate themselves.

"Both/and" is one of my favorite phrases these days. I know when I got robbed at gunpoint here in LA I was so happy to be able to call the police and have them show up. But that was the very first positive interaction I'd ever had with an officer. Back in Chicago, it was a given that if I was in a car with an African-American male driving in the north suburbs that we'd get pulled over and harrassed. That sort of thing was my mindset when I moved to LA and expected officers to be even crazier here. But that's not what I've found. Maybe because there's been so much scrutiny of LAPD. I don't know. I do know that justice will look pretty different in the future and that gives me hope still.

I was just listening to (and this is sooo bad) a bootleg New Order compilation cd I bought in China! I'm very proud that my sons can tell the difference between Depeche Mode, New Order and The Cure! I heart New Order too!

I am lucky to know so many great people. The main reason I keep blogging is because of all the very cool people I've gotten to interact with and stay in touch with. Y'all make it totally worth it!

We all do suffer the strain. It builds the resentments, anger and mistrust in our psyches and affects us in ways we probably can't even fathom. I'm glad I shared it. It's a gem of brilliance.

Isn't it? Thanks for chiming in.
Unknown said…
I applaud Phillipe Copeland's comments as well. The overhaul in the system, as I myself have been begging at every conference I attend (I am in law enforcement) must begin in pre-school.

Prejudice must end. Profiling must end. Higher standards for hiring in law enforcement must begin.

Teachers and Officers should be as well paid as physicians and attorneys ~ they handle lives and minds everyday ALL day.

I personally saught higher education to better prepare myself, as a probation officer, to react appropriately with offenders.

Unfortunately, by the time they are in my office they have acquired a level so narcissistic you literally have to work them down a few notches. The psychology is very involved. No way should police officers, who get to the general public at the craziest points, be allowed to navigate blindly, attempting to discern use of force, while attempting to determine crime makers from civilians, and who is or is not threatening...society has so many levels, it can be overwhelming, but we must continue the conversations.

Kudos to Liz, for taking her comments and making necessary dialogue!
Anonymous said…
England is moving towards the USA's example of arming our police officers which is a bad mistake as time & history will prove.
England had unwritten rules of engagement between the crooks and law enforcement, now this is about to be torn up. The killing of innocent civilians, by the police, will continue, and soon the previously rare occurence, policemen killed on our streets, will be seen on a regular basis. Law and order will be seriously compromised.
This will continue and escalate until we look at the root causes of crime, (a morally corrupt system) and not just blame everything on the people. Inequality and oppression leads to increased crime but instead of looking to a fairer, peaceful, equal society, we are continuing down the path of inequality, suppression and enforcement. Putting more funding into buying bigger guns and more resources,for the army and police, etc.
In England, what we really need are, more jobs, better pay, better welfare & health services, better education & training, better housing and neighbourhoods.
In England we need to stop blaming the oncoming recession on "the immigrants" (us who are born and bred here and who are yet somehow not English enough)? I bet that strikes a cord with our American cousins?
Globally, we need to share the worlds wealth out more effectively. This greed of the ruling classes is killing our world.
It seems like more and more people are selling out to this system that supports personal gains, money, possessions, accumulation of wealth, power, prestige, control, over collective rewards, the love of sharing, caring and welfare!
Some answers have already been provided in this online forum from various enlightened sources and it is always a pleasure to enter into discourse of this nature.
They can try to kill and control us politically but spiritually we remain conscious and steadfast.
We should all congratulate ourselves for having the wherewithall and strength of spirit and understanding to even begin to look at possible solutions to our complex situations.
We must also be mindful that we also have, certain miscreants, some who pose as politicians and leaders of people, taking our agenda forward, in pursuit of personal glory, rather than mass empowerment and progress. It is written that we must watch for these!
Keep up the resistance, keep creating the debate and keep searching for the truth!

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