Today’s Baton Rouge cop killings (three policemen dead, one shooter killed) looks to everyone like a Dallas copycat thing. It feels to me like yet another indication that we’re back in the spring and summer of 1968. Obviously awful in human/social/political terms, but now we’re faced with the possibility (God forbid) of still more sniper cop-killings in the future, subsequent mayhem inspired by the Dallas shootings and now today’s.
In short, is this an indication of a malevolent hate-trend (if that’s not too insipid or shallow of a usage) or flash-fire, a version of an arguably similar self-destructive martyrdom that we’ve seen in the Middle East time and again. Or is it just bad luck for everyone that two guys (one in Dallas, another in Baton Rouge) had the same idea? God help us all if this keeps happening.
I have a peripheral thought (and I’m mentioning this with the usual presumption that the Twitter dogs are going to bark and howl): how might these cop killings affect the reception to Nate Parker‘s The Birth of a Nation (Fox Searchlight, 10.7)?
The 2016 and 1831 situations are obviously quite different but, as Variety‘s Kris Tapley wrote the other day, they share a certain DNA. They share, at root, a basic rage impulse — angry, violent pushbacks against whites or symbols of white enforcement. Parker has made a movie, an emotional recreation, a big-screen revisiting. But the echoes can’t be ignored. I’m not asking if these horrible events will make Birth a more urgent topic of conversation, but they almost certainly have (or will).
I’ve just asked a friend for a thought. “I’ve only just begun to think about this,” he replied, “but I think these killings change the context for The Birth of a Nation profoundly.”
A 7.12 Atlantic piece by Ta-Nehisi Caotes.