G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
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OK. We have Brother Cornel West arguing that our collective tears shouldn’t be shed only for the “vanilla” victims at Sandy Hook. Black kids are also being murdered in greater number and nobody says anything about it.
As the 500th murder occurred in Chicago this year alone, Tribune columnist John Kass challenged President Obama to attend funerals of the hundreds of young black and Latino kids who get killed every year. Kass told CNN’s Don Lemon:
We make the Sandy Hook – which was a tragedy – a big deal. Why don’t the politicians come to the funerals of the dead African-American and Latino kids who get killed by the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds,” asked Kass. “The media has ghettoized these children, these homicide victims.
Let’s unpack some of this.
1.) To compare what happened at Sandy Hook to the isolated, small scale events that occur every single day in Chicago and other cities is to compare Hurricane Sandy to an isolated Oklahoma tornado that tears up a few houses and perhaps causes a few casualties. We’re talking about scale and how events – manmade or natural – effect the national psyche.
2.) If the spotlight was placed on the murder of black and Latino youths then the conversation would quickly turn to the culprits of those murders. Black and Latino men would be criticized, and Brother West does not want that. The police, the media, and the President don’t want to have to address the topic of black criminality, so they avoid making direct comments on it altogether.
3.) All of this reminds me of a piece that made the rounds of some of the soft social justice websites I read. A writer made the bold statement that she wishes her mother had aborted her. The mother gave birth and burdened herself and then led a poor existence as she struggled to make ends meet. The daughter felt guilty about this and rationalized her own abortion. This is a common liberal viewpoint – a Malthusian critique of people who have children beyond their supposed means. Because of their anti-birth rhetoric, pro-abortion activists are often pitted against the black community because of the high rate of irresponsible births in the community. And as we know, the creators of Planned Parenthood and other groups had eugenicist sympathies.
When I hear that a kid in a non-violent area is murdered, I feel more sympathy than I do for a kid who is murdered in a violent locale. Why? I look not only at the life that was lost but also the decisions of the people who brought that person into the world. I can’t fathom bringing a kid into the world right now, and that’s only because I’m worried about having enough money to pay for extra tuition and college down the road. Many people in more violent environments bring children into the world on a whim and without as much forward thinking. They make a choice somewhere along the way (don’t they?) to ignore the violence prevalent in their environment and then bring that child into the world. Every single red light on the interface was blinking emphatically to tell them of the danger that could befall their offspring, yet the parent chose to ignore the warnings and did it anyway. If Cornel West and others complain about the high rates of violence in black communities, why are they not also trying to convince the residents of those communities to discontinue re-creating the same worn wheel?
This is a stylized argument. Individual cases where people in violent areas lose their lives will tug at my heart strings. But in general, when I think of the lives lost by children who were not only innocent themselves but also were born to people who made conscious decisions to bring their children into only safe environments – and were brought into the world only because of the precondition of safety – then I feel that much more for the child, the parents, and the community involved. I get the sense that people in places like Newtown place a higher value on the individual life of the children there than do the people in the more violent places that West and Kass have in mind.
This has nothing to do with race. It just so happens that white people tend to rationally decide when and where and with whom to have children. Blacks are less oriented to the long-term. Chalk that up to genes or environment or whatever.