The New Freedom: The Right to Be Free From Violence.

Years from now, perhaps decades or centuries into our future, a brave new world will cast its eyes back to History and see the year 2020 as pivot point.

It will be the year that America inadvertently stumbled its way as the makers of a new cause for liberty.

Out of this Nation’s tragic legacy of slavery and racial separation and the violence that has always overseen its institutions is being born a new freedom as powerful as any recognized from the time of the Declaration of Independence or Roosevelt’s statement of the four freedoms in 1941.

It is an implicit claim to liberty that those endowed with privilege and power and position have always assumed was a part of their status; but, which for the poor and powerless and separated by caste or color has never been freely enjoyed.

The absence of this freedom has been unspoken because its unequal and scarce availability has been cloaked by the right of the powerful to control the powerless — to maintain an order that too long has benefited only the few out of many and not those who are also simply and self-evidently equal.

Historians may ask why it took so long for an advanced civilization to be blinded to this transformation and transfiguration which the few have used to justify a denial of this freedom to the disfavored and outcast.

In America it has changed its shape from rule of the slave catcher to the naked violence of the regime of Southern revanchists we now know as Jim Crow and later saw in its polite but vicious masks of “separate but equal.”

In other lands it was the white man’s burden and neo-colonial rule which freighted with the very same racism and exclusion would accompany violence to draw lines of repression and exploitation.

In the early era of European fascism it would be militarism and the claims of membership in a master race combined with planned genocide that brought calculated violence based on antiquated claims of ethnic inferiority.

But in all instances we have failed to understand or simply have cloaked the use of deadly force and violence in the same modern terms of law and order.

It is now disguised by the need to “dominate the streets” and to, at all costs, restore order.

By this compelling and simple appeal to fear, the powerful still tell the powerless that order must precede justice and that violence must be suffered to achieve it.

Yet, historians may find that the final freedom that was being born in this second decade of the 21st century was the right to be free from violence; that this right would be no less basic than the right to a free conscience and of free expression and those other four freedoms declared as the world long ago entered world war.

Historians may ask how a people with an understanding of history and its cascading struggles for unfolding equality would not see that even in a well-ordered society the claims of justice must include an explicit claim to the right to be free from the wanton use of official violence and its justification by the modern state.

This will be the question they will ask: How could a people who claim they love liberty refuse to understand that until all of its people are guaranteed an equal claim to freedom from violence, that order would always elude them; and thereby that justice must always fail.

-atg

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