We’ve been kind of shielded from what the rest of the world’s been dealing with. I remember the first time I left the country — in 1980 I went to London — I knew a little bit about the Irish and the English and what was happening, and then something blew up around the corner from where I was, and I was kind of like, ‘Woah, what was that?’ And they say, ‘Oh, Irish terrorists.’ It was the first time I’d heard the word ‘terrorists.’ ‘Oh, what do you mean?’ And then I started seeing signs in the tube — ‘Don’t pick up untended packages.’ That was the first, ‘If you see something, say something.’ So I started thinking about it.”
His thinking led to this:
I looked around at the world and I was kind of like, ‘Okay, that’s the Catholics and the Protestants — that’s sort of the Crusades.’ [Note: not really, there were no Protestants at the time of the Crusades] And then I started looking at the rest of it and said, ‘Oh, they’re still doing that over there, too.’ Now it’s the Protestants and the Muslims. ‘They’re still doing that?’
So we’re still fighting the Crusades. How many thousands of years has this been going on? But we weren’t in it — Americans weren’t in it. We had our race stuff going on, then we had the anti-[Vietnam] War movement and we had all this other stuff, but we still weren’t in that religious fight, you know? We were progressing — we were making advances here, making advances there, you got your cell phone, you got your computer.
And then all of a sudden, it’s like [swoosh sound]! This thing connected us to a whole bunch of sh[**] that we had nothing to do with for a long time. All of a sudden, Bush and those guys put us in that fight. And as soon as we drew blood in that war, we became part of something that’s been going on for thousands of years. It’s like, ‘Well, you killed my cousin Akhbar,’ duh-duh-duh, and it’s like, ‘Oh, sh[**].’ So we’ll never be out of it now because people hold on to grudges in that kind of way — we’re the Hatfields and the McCoys in the world. So that’s happened.”
The swoosh sound “thing” that “connected us to a whole bunch of sh[**]” was, I assume, 9/11 (unless Jackson missed that). But 9/11 wouldn’t have happened unless we were already connected.
Jackson also has a theory about contemporary American policing:
In the sixties or whatever, guys went to Vietnam, and they came home, and people hated them, they were ‘baby killers’ or whatever, and a lot of them became cops ’cause that was the job — ‘Oh, you have ex-military service? You can become one of the boys in blue.’ And because they were so vilified by everybody outside, they formed this ‘blue wall’ that’s now still a part of what that is.
But now it’s kids coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, and now they’ve identified PTSD — but that’s not one of the tests they give for people who put on the uniform. So, consequently, you’ve got people out there who are used to looking at people as ‘the enemy’ ’cause that’s what it was — people were trying to kill them every day. It was like, ‘Oh, my God’ — you see a guy, the guy jumps up, ‘Hold it!’ And young black men are threatening, you know, and it just happens. So all these things snowball and snowball.
Was service in Iraq and Afghanistan more traumatic than service in Vietnam? If not, than Jackson’s purely speculative explanation for the alleged “snowballing” of “things” makes no sense. The “blue wall” predates the influx of Vietnam vets into police departments (Frank Serpico and all that).
One thing that has snowballed since the 1960s is social pathology in poor black neighborhoods. Jackson would be on firmer ground if he looked to that phenomenon for an explanation of increased conflict between white police officers and young black men (assuming it’s occurring).
Jackson would also be on firmer ground if he stuck to monologues like this one:
There’s a passage I got memorized. Ezekiel 25:17. “The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy My brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay My vengeance upon you.”
Now… I been sayin’ that sh[**] for years. And if you ever heard it, that meant your ass. You’d be dead right now. I never gave much thought to what it meant. I just thought it was a cold-blooded thing to say to a motherf[*****] before I popped a cap in his ass.
But I saw some sh[**] this mornin’ made me think twice. See, now I’m thinking: maybe it means you’re the evil man. And I’m the righteous man. And Mr. 9mm here… he’s the shepherd protecting my righteous ass in the valley of darkness. Or it could mean you’re the righteous man and I’m the shepherd and it’s the world that’s evil and selfish. And I’d like that. But that sh[**] ain’t the truth. The truth is you’re the weak. And I’m the tyranny of evil men. But I’m tryin’, Ringo. I’m tryin’ real hard to be the shepherd.