Curtain Raiser

Racism Is a Loaded Gun, Colltalers

The tragedy at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston was a calculated act of terrorism, its timing and victims carefully chosen, and the shooter’s intent crystal clear. And unlike the appearances, he was not alone.
So will this be it? We’ve lost track of how many times we came this close to do something about it, and we don’t mean going back the intervening century and a half that’s supposed to separate our era from the official end of the American Civil War.
We’re talking about less than a decade, for instance, and President Obama’s 2010 inauguration is as good a time to start counting as any. And still, we lost count of how many times racism has shown its raw, brutal face, and we failed to act.
So is time ripe enough now? Or again we’re about to engage in yet another exercise of self-delusion, by some, and convenient excuses, by others, and offer the ‘isolated nut’ theory as the scapegoat for this massacre, so most of us can go back to sleep?
The more we learn about the murder rampage in S. Carolina, the harder it is to adhere to the usual suspects school of thought, which seems ever so casual but comes from the same place that’s been brewing racism in this country since, well, ever.
Even if the despicable idea he (we’re not mentioning his name on this space) had was very likely his own, it wouldn’t have come out of his deranged mind if it weren’t for the environment of racial hatred that nurtured his upbringing.
Nothing was casual: besides choosing the church for its historical significance in 200 years of racial struggle, this young thug had already made clear his intention to harm black people on his Website, picked a particular night to attack, drove 120 miles to get to the city, and like any cold blood psychopath, sat down and talked with his victims before slaughtering them.
The fact that he’s a certified killer, though, doesn’t exempt his community – and us – of responsibility. He was given the tools, the hate rationale and motivation, even literally the weapon, and thus he must’ve felt chosen to be the one to pull the trigger.
In other words, to focus on his apparel and universally recognized white supremacist symbols (everything but the swastika?), may distract us from the crucial fact that he, and millions like him, remain sore and bent on resettling a score that the Civil War was supposed to have settled all those years ago; it’s as if only part of the grand illusion of racism was defeated on the battlefield.
Exactly why is it still alive and unwell in America? How is even possible that we tolerate state members of the union to openly profess segregation as a valid way of life, and racial hatred towards blacks (and one assumes, any race but white) as a matter of principle, while allowing Confederate Flags to be displayed in government buildings, and roads named after its heroes?
We don’t claim to know the answer but we offer that it may have something to do with so many still nurturing ill-feelings toward Jews, sex ‘minorities, feminists and civil rights activists. Or the growing contingent of ISIL volunteers. And yes, even those oh so well intentioned, who’ve declared racism over in this country, and still can’t quite consider it a serious threat.
For how’s that a young person develops such a stupefyingly flawed view of the world, where the methodical brutality of the Rhodesian regime, or the cruelty of Apartheid ideology, serve as cognitive beacons to their path in life, without a hint of the collective remorse we feel about the plight of millions of Africans who suffered or were exterminated under them?
The Charleston bloodbath is so completely engulfing on its message against racial equality, and specifically, in the way it signals towards some kind of evil final solution towards black people, that its meaning surpasses even the power of that other disgrace about life in America: easy guns. That may be a way to approach what happened but it can’t be the only way.
It’s a reductionist tactic to narrow and credit this barbaric act to how easy it is for anyone with a police record to acquire or, in this shooter’s case, to be gifted, with a gun. For there are already plenty of tragedies involving sick individuals with just a personal grudge against society. Even then, we haven’t changed any meaningful gun control law in their wake.
But it’s a scarier thought to think that this was not an isolated act, and the shooter, not a solitary wolf. This nation must show guts and accept that reality is indeed that bleak. And it’ll remain so if we don’t decide that enough’s enough.
For now we must keep on message and, if we’re to get anything done this time, then be done out of our revulsion against racism. Soon enough, we’ll sure to go back to another run-of-the-mill mass murder ignited by our ‘guns for everyone’ credo.
But will it be different this time around? Is it now the right time as it’ll ever be to reset this vicious cycle, and start treating racism as a crime worst than, say, protesting against government surveillance, or in favor of bringing troops home, or for the right of demand a better country for all Americans? Can we finally put a definitive end to the Civil War already?
We owe that to Revs. Clementa Pinkney, Daniel Simmons Sr., DePayne Middleton-Doctor, and Sharonda Singleton, and to Tywanza Sanders, Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, and Myra Thompson. We owe it to all black people whose unjust death we’ve read daily on the papers. And we owe it those slaughtered in South Africa and in the former Rhodesia.
Above all, we owe it to ourselves to become the Americans who finally decided, unanimously and unequivocally, that we can’t live like that: either we commit as a whole population against racism, or tomorrow we’ll be reading about yet another massacre. It’ll definitely take more than contrived words and prayers for change, but it can be done. Have a peaceful summer. WC


6 thoughts on “Curtain Raiser

  1. unclerave says:

    Reblogged this on Unclerave's Wordy Weblog.


  2. Thank you all for this post and comment, which brought the film “Bowling for Columbine” by Michael Moore back to my mind. Here is the link:
    Very best regards

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The corporate media, big business and the main politicial parties have to take a large portion of the blame for this state of affairs. Xenophobia and racism have always been handy tools to conceal their failures beneath. If the role of the media isn’t to expose dishonesty, and inform truthfully, for what purpose does it serve the vast majority?

    Far too often the official narrative of top executives. political leaders and press barons has been to lay the blame on the victims of misery and poverty for their misery and poverty. We don’t read or hear so much blame being apportioned to big business for exporting jobs abroad while leading politicians and the media did nothing much to stop them. When media moguls and journaists see it as their job as to support a small elite at the expense of the majority, the system is failing, or has already failed.

    It is far too easy to point the finger at those who can be identified by the colour of their skin. However, not only does that also draw attention away from the real culprits of economic failure, but it also fails to address the real causes. Until these root causes are identified and dealt with, the problem can only get worse.

    The US is just a place where lax gun laws are allowing the situation to get almost completely out of control. It might be borne in mind that when the authorities start executing their own citizens, extrajudicially, it’s time to take a very hard, long look, before the situation get much, much worse. There are just too many armed people in the US for the authorities to start messing with.

    Though less is mentioned about it, overt racism is growing in Europe too. There can be little doubt this is being helped by the continuous wars against ‘brown’ people being waged all over the Middle East and the terms within which the conflicts are framed, packaged and sold to the public at large. A good deal of war is being stoked up by an increasingly right wing media that has been infiltrated by overbloated secret services with a massive financial stake in permanent war.

    A new low point was reached when the US and European mainstream media lent their support to the fascists in Ukraine. The Kiev far-right’s desire to ethnically ‘cleanse’ the Ukraine of Russians, Jews, Poles, Tartars and most other races they regard as impure, is not exactly a secret, as it has been widely broadcast by the fascists themselves. Shame on the Western media for not giving the true picture far wider coverage. The fact that they took pains to conceal it is sickening when the 6000 reported casualties caused by the war so far is taken into account.

    And how it pains me to see Barack Obama fail to recognise he has become part of the problem, rather than the solution. If you allow the repeated stereotyping Muslims, Arabs, Chinese, Iranians, Mexicans and even Russians go on, without strongly opposing it, you shouldn’t be surprised when other countries stereotype Americans, and some Americans stereotype black Americans. If you use language, and pursue tactics in war, that can lead to accusations of racial – as well as religious – stereotyping, then you have betrayed the principles you were elected to uphold. In other words: you have betrayed the vast majority of people you were elected to represent.

    Aided by the corporate media Obama has managed to sink to an even lower point where drones are concerned. By perpetuating the great lie that slaying innocent women, children and other civilians as ‘collateral damage’ is somehow justifiable, he enters territory where some lives are not considered as valuable as others. It’s a short step from there to label some people as ‘sub-human’.

    If the government starts killing people it doesn’t like without due trial, it cannot feign surprise when its police forces, and even its citizens, begin doing it too. If you don’t like, or agree with it, kill it. The excuse for wholesale slaughter by drones is that the drones are not in the wrong place, the people are. It is an extremely cynical and dangerous position to take. In the eyes of many, US soldiers serving abroad are in the wrong place, and therefore legitimate targets in countries they aren’t actually at war with. To follow the same logic even further, many innocent US civilians will also be regarded as being in the wrong place in the eyes of those who oppose US foreign policy. The deaths of innocent civilians, will be seen as justifiable ‘collateral damage’. In the wrong place could even be a couple of US tourists standing a group of US soldiers in a Berlin bar. Callous regard for human life can come back to haunt. It should be remembered Jews faced a similar position in occupied Europe during WWII; they were living in the wrong place too. Now, Palestinians are living in the wrong place.

    The corporate media cannot keep standing on the wrong side of the fence in this, as they are just as responsible as the rest of the establishment for disseminating and perpetuating concepts, such as collateral damage, by endlessly repeating them.

    It is significant we now see the media moguls raise their cowardly heads once more. More and more openly racist comments appear in even purportedly liberal papers. Surveys of public opinion in countries such as Norway and Denmark are revealing growing hostility towards non-white immigrants and refugees from beyond Europe.

    Where do they get that from? we might ask ourselves. Why, it spews into their homes via the TV and internet is the obvious answer.

    Sorry, to take up such a large part of your comments section, Wesley, But I had to say it. I suppose I should’ve done it on my own blog. Next time.

    Liked by 2 people

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