In this era of contempt and division, our nation is more polarized than ever before — and it’s frankly shocking to see the ease with which people on both sides of the political divide are entirely willing to write off enormous swathes of people at the drop of a hat. For every MAGA-hat-wearing right-winger who fantasizes about California tumbling into the sea, there’s a liberal who looks upon the sight of thousands of people in red-states dying horrible deaths from COVID-19 and smugly tells them that they deserve it.
But maybe it’s not so surprising considering how we’ve all been trained to ignore and dehumanize the staggering number of people that American society tosses aside, especially the homeless. Their suffering is either ignored, criminalized, or turned into a political football as we recoil in sheer disgust from those who fail to meet the material requirements that capitalism imposes on our society — and in terror at the thought that it might be us someday.
A video circulating of police officers holding assault rifles as they evict the homeless off of famous Venice Beach in Los Angeles, California highlights the deeply inhumane and uncaring approach that the so-called progressive government in California takes towards its indigent population.
Why the police felt the need to bring killing weapons to displace the homeless so that tourists don’t have to be reminded of our social failures while they stuff their faces with ridiculously overpriced appetizers and get high on the beach is unclear.
Instead of taking any substantive action to provide shelter for these people — you know, so they wouldn’t be homeless anymore — they instead waste countless tax dollars deploying the NYPD’s goon squads to terrorize the homeless, destroying all of their belongings and shuffling them off to some other part of the city, where they try to piece everything back together before someone calls the police on them and demands the next anti-homeless sweep.
LAPD "spent more than $1.1 million on regular salaries and more than $900,000 on overtime, among other costs." This is why people say defund. $2 million could have housed every person at the park, easilyhttps://t.co/H3ySyE6T6s
— Tyler Samples (@tlrsmpls) August 2, 2021
For years now, the Democrats in California have held a supermajority in the state legislature, and every year they fail to provide any kind of humane solution to the homeless crisis, instead of throwing more and more money at police departments to push the problematic people around until they die an undignified death, sooner than they should because the state has also failed to implement any kind of universal healthcare system.
Our complete abandonment of any kind of social responsibility towards the homeless imprints upon us all that they are inherently disposable and unworthy of our empathy despite being humans just like the rest of us who have been tossed aside by a society devoted entirely to the creation of profit and its passage into the pockets of the megawealthy. Once we make that fundamental leap, it doesn’t take very long for the dehumanization and alienation and callous cruelty to extend to other “groups” — Republicans, liberals, immigrants, you name it — and until we treat every member of our society like a human being, we will continue to see mass killings, political polarization, overt racism and all the other appalling behavior that America proudly exhibits.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.