Saturday, March 24, 2012

Racist Murderers In The United States Of America

The tragedy of Trayvon Martin cannot be understated.  An innocent young man was shot down for, apparently, little reason other than the color of his skin.  This was a terrible sort of event which continues to be repeated in the United States and in other parts of the world.  Race-based violence is, unquestionably, one of the most odious aspects of daily life in many places.  If society is to truly advance in any meaningful way... this is something which must be adequately addressed. 

But there is something about this specific case which strikes me as peculiar.  I find it interesting that the highest elected government officials have joined the chorus in calling for justice regarding this incident.  Of all potential cases to capture the imagination, I find this one to be relatively arbitrary in its uniqueness.  Young men of color are being shot down every day in modern America and, as horribly tragic and unfortunate as this particular instance was, it just personally doesn't shock me any more than many other cases.  What is it about this case that's captured the attention of the media and government officials?

When Sean Bell was gunned down by the NYPD on his wedding day it didn't receive this kind of attention.  When Oscar Grant was shot in the back while handcuffed and laying face-down on the ground... I don't remember Obama mentioning it or seeing as much national media attention.  So one can't help but to wonder... if the shooter of Trayvon Martin had been a salaried official of the local police department, does any one really believe the media and the President would be as quick to push this incident to the forefront of the national consciousness?  That certainly wouldn't be in keeping with similar events which regularly transpire.      

While this sad incident involving Trayvon Martin may or may not have been racially motivated, statistical and anecdotal evidence abounds in regard to systemic racist violence occurring under the auspices of official government policy.  Only the most inept, racist, or frightened would fail to acknowledge this.  And while I'm generally inclined to provide more statistical data when writing opinion pieces on such issues, I'd hardly even know where to begin amidst the vast abundance of data in regard to this particular subject.

So... why is there so much official interest and media hype in regard to this particular incident?  For starters... it appears that the shooter may have been a person of color himself.  This would fit a common narrative within this society and makes it more presentable in the minds of the corporate press and the government.  But regardless of whether or not the shooter claims any sort of minority status, the bigger issue may be that he was not an official security agent of the state.  Rather, instead, he was likely just an overzealous neighborhood watchmen.  Despite official agents of the state killing, abusing, and imprisoning people on a regular basis... this incident draws more official condemnation and press attention precisely because it was a wayward citizen and not an official agent of the state.  As I mentioned earlier, I doubt the shooter would be in nearly as much trouble if he had an official badge rather than just community sanction.

Reading this opinion thus far... you might have guessed that I'm not the most right-wing ideologue.  But I think the right may have one issue being raised by this incident which is legitimate.  The event at hand will be used by the government to further restrict the public's right to bear arms and general access to guns.  The state will overlook the incessant violence carried out by its own agents and will highlight this incident as exemplary evidence of why further gun control measures must be taken.  Those right-wing groups who point out that "if guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns" are, actually, correct in that logic.  And that group of outlaws they mention would very much include government officials, agents of the state, and police forces across this land.      

Conversely, it's flawed logic that leads one to believe that the mere presence of guns in society leads to more gun violence.  This was shown to be erroneous by the documentarian Michael Moore in his film Bowling For Columbine.  The issue isn't guns creating violence, the issue is a corrupt system, through and through, which creates a violent society.  Other nations effectively have as many guns as America, but the United States is the murder capitol of the western industrialized world.  And this has nothing to with Americans being genetically more predisposed to violence.  Rather... the issue is that the government of the United States is one of the most brutal in the world.  From foreign wars to the prison-industrial complex, the U.S. government is undeniably aggressive and violent.  And this is the government which will now try to use this sad incident at hand to further curtail its own constitutional law in limiting public access to means of self-defense.

I doubt the family of Trayvon Martin will read this and, if they do, I want them to know that I am truly sorry for their loss.  And I'm also sorry if this incident is being politicized in any way which they disagree with.  However, for my part, I will not simply allow the government to feign sympathy for their loss while creating even more tragedy for so many other people.  It would be nice if Obama had truly ushered in a less racist manner of life in the United States, but that hasn't happened and doesn't appear to be sincerely on his agenda.  Brown people continue to be killed on a daily basis overseas and more black men are currently imprisoned in the U.S. than were ever enslaved at any point before the Civil War.  This is the modern state of violence and race relations in the United States.      

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