Through My Eyes
By Ron Edwards
It has been extremely painful to watch the accounts of the horrendous acts of violence and death in Tuscon, Arizona on January 8, 2011, when 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner shot and killed six, including a nine-year-old girl, and wounded 14, including his target, a U.S. Congresswoman.
Even though every time a law is broken doesn’t mean its society’s fault rather than the lawbreaker’s, violence doesn’t take place in a vacuum or outside of a social context. From a Black perspective, there is still that segment in America dishonest in its role in causing violence with a smile: White America.
Too often White America has historically justified its violence on race and religion, targeting African Americans, Native Americans, and now add members of Islam. White America has not been bashful in critiquing the perceived shortcomings of others by race, using perceived shortcomings as an excuse for violence with a smile.
Black America remembers when a brush against a sleeve passing on the sidewalk, a “look,” winning an election, “driving while Black,” or just a whistle (Emmett Till) was justification enough to harass, to beat to death, to lynch, or to burn alive as whole towns of Blacks were burned to death in Florida and Oklahoma. This violence continues in more subtle ways by still denying to many equal access and opportunity in education, jobs and housing, all denied with a smile.
Today, each half of White America is blaming the other half for feelings of hatred that foster their violence, as if feelings were all that mattered. Hence conservative America is angry, maintaining they have been unfairly targeted and tied in to the carnage that took place in South Tuscon January 8.
As I have said in this column over the last seven and a half years, there has not been an honest discussion about race issues that divide and condone violence. This is just the latest.
Far too many on the right were comfortable with the attacks on soon-to-be President Barack Obama (as those on left were comfortable with the attacks of the 1960s). Too many on the left and the right have been too indifferent or too weak to demand an examination of their shared ability to be intolerant and hateful and violent toward each other.
Indeed, as an outgrowth of the left’s apathy, they were swept from power, both in the federal Congress and even here in Minnesota in the state legislature. At this hour, Tea Party-types are angry at the allegation and innuendo laid against them; yet, during the debate on Medicare and better health care for all Americans, they were quite comfortable with hostile confrontations in the hallways of Congress and in front of the White House.
Can anyone truly explain the anger brought to the Tuscon shopping mall January 8?
We will never really know nor be able to say who might have conspired with or inspired Loughner. For many there must be a whitewash in keeping with the whitewash traditions of the assassinations of both the Kennedys and of Martin Luther King, Jr., Medgar Evers, Malcolm X.
By and large, we are told their assailants were individuals acting alone with no other conspirators. With the exception of Timothy McVeigh in 1995 in Oklahoma, this theme has worked. It means we don’t have to face ourselves, as it is “them” who are evil, not “us.”
Last week, President Obama journeyed to Tucson, Arizona to pay his respects to the deceased and wounded, and he addressed the pain and the need for healing in America. But will we be able to honestly address the existence of the underlying, long-running war within America, a conflict that has led to intolerance, angry discourse, and periodic outright violence?
Let us hope and pray for committed action and a sense of resolve. The victims of the violence mentioned in this column deserve that we undertake a meaningful attempt to bring some semblance of sanity to the treatment of “others,” especially children like the nine-year-old girl who had gone to see a young congresswoman she emulated. Our ideals will not survive as a nation if we remain cruel and careless with our future.
The City Inc. update
As we reported last week (and as The City Inc., MPS and others denied), the organization’s doors have been closed. Will there be another whitewash due to the involvement of both White and Black “leaders”?
Ron hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!” Saturdays at 5 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers and “web log” at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com.