Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Fire This Time

There is one truth that we need to face today, after the grand jury's decision in Ferguson. And that truth is simple. No one can live like this.

No one can live with an arrangement where their sons can be killed with impunity. No one can make their peace with that. No one can accept that. No one can live like this.

You cannot tell someone, "Look, some things are better for you than they have been. And other things are not so bad. Your son may go out for a walk one day and never come home, because he has been shot in the street: even if he is unarmed, even if he is no danger. But other than that one thing life is good." You cannot say that. And that is why people try to say it without putting it in exactly those words. But that is not something you can ask of anyone.

Calling for peace in the aftermath is an insult. There is no peace. If some people are allowed to be shot dead and others are allowed to get away with that, then there is no peace. There is no public safety, because not all of the public are safe. The old saying "No justice, no peace," is relevant here, but it's even starker than that. No peace, no peace.

Pretending that this is not about race does not help. No one would defend a Darren Wilson if they did not think it was about race, because no one would defend Darren Wilson if they really thought he was equally likely to kill their own son or grandson or nephew. If it weren't about race, Darren Wilson would already be under the jail. I do not want to live in a country where the police shoot unarmed teenagers dead. That they only kill unarmed teenagers from a specific ethnic group does not make it better. No one can live like this.

Rationalizing every crime, blaming the victim, does not help. It adds insult to injury. Unarmed teenagers can be shot dead in the street, and the killer will get away with it. Then, to comfort themselves, many people will defame the murdered boy. That is an act of aggression. Killing someone and then claiming it was their own fault does not make it better. It makes it worse. No one can live with that.

Forget the fire next time. Think about the fire this time. No one can live with a system that murders their sons without bothering much for a reason. No one can accept a system that allows that. There can be no peace, no justice, in our country unless that peace and justice extends to all alike. Economic inequality is cruel. Racial inequality is unjust. But inequality in matters of life and death is unbearable. No one will bear it, because no one can. Darren Wilson didn't just kill one unarmed man. He put yet another bullet in the body of the American Way.

cross-posted (and comments welcome) at Dagblog

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