Actually, strike that. Looking at what is going on in the US this week, I realize that what has changed is that the police are now more like a paramiltary strike-force than a civilian police force. Take a look at video of protests in Baton Rouge and you can see just how much things have changed. You can find some video at the facebook page of Revolution News here. But this video is even more frightening.
This video lays bare all the hypocrisy of US politicians who are talking about peace and reconciliation. Talk of change, talk of peace, talk of community cooperation is utterly empty while you are using paramilitary forces in the face of peaceful protests! Putting armoured vehicles in communities flanked by military men armed in many cases with assault rifles is a demonstration of the very things against which people are protesting, and will lead to nothing good. There is a terrible and painful irony in the fact that in the face of state violence which is out of control (in the continual killing and violence against blacks), the state's response is to double down and ramp up the very image and nature of the violence.
One needn't be an expert in political history to understand that this is a "third-world" response. I lived in El Salvador during the 90s just after the civil war there ended. I heard so many stories from regular people who hadn't been active or political but eventually became so as the State's response to protests became more and more violent. This is exactly what is happening the US today. When the state makes it clear that their agenda is military and violent, people who might otherwise watch from afar will understandably begin to question the real goals of the state. Not only has the US government ramped up the violence with their response but they have set in motion an inevitable legitimation crisis in the country as a whole. And sadly, they have also established a precedent that will further divide the country in an already divisive time.
Looking back on the periodical racial tensions that have divided America over the past century, it seems that this is not just another blip on the screen of American racial problems. Rather, this is finally the moment when the paramilitary nature of the US state has been laid bare and the descent of the most powerful nation in the world into the chaos of a banana-republic-style dictatorship.
This is, as they say, the tipping point. America and Americans will never be the same.