I started writing this post about one week ago and didn’t finish it because I don’t want to come off like an angry black woman and yet in fact that’s what I am. I thought if I waited a while the feeling would dissipate but it has not so I decided rather than suppress my anger or wait for it to go away I would try to express it in as civilized a manner as possible.
What is it about war that generates such bi-polar thinking in Americans? We are hyper-conscious and sensitive to the death of every U.S. service member but seem oblivious to the deaths of innocent civilians in the countries where we fight. We expect other governments to acknowledge mistakes and rectify bad behavior but are resentful when the same standard is applied to us. The hypocrisy is so thick you can cut it with a knife. We’re barely out of Iraq, still mired in Afghanistan and now folks are beating the drum for war with Iran – don’t we ever learn? Why do we insist on fighting wars we can’t win…..
According to the Republicans we’re supposed to understand when U.S. soldiers mistakenly kill unarmed women and children during midnight raids in search of ill-defined targets; or when they torture and publicly humiliate detainees in their custody; or when they desecrate the corpses of battlefield combatants by urinating on them; or when they rape their fellow female service members. We’re supposed to have sympathy with and understand all these behaviors as unfortunate by-products of war, but when people in Afghanistan rise in protest of U.S. desecration of their holy book, the Quran – not only is it deemed unwarranted and excessive but the President is roundly criticized for even apologizing for the offense. One can observe the application of this double standard to a whole range of issues, from sexuality to criminality but nowhere is it more evident than with respect to death – which deaths are recognized and which are not.
I can’t help ruminating on this double standard as I watch the news and compare what is extensively covered to what is not. The most glaring and infuriating example for me was the coverage of the recent school shooting in Chardon, Ohio. These types of rampages where a student comes to school and randomly starts shooting people, including classmates are a terrible tragedy for the victims, their families and the community in and around the schools – in fact for the country as a whole. I must admit though I am somewhat mystified that the standard response of the media and local residents to these events is some version of “I never thought it could happen here”. Which occurs to me as strange because these events seem to happen in very similar type communities – small, suburban or exurban mostly white communities where people tend to ‘know’ each other and where gun possession is common. Additionally, the response leads me to wonder – where do people think these things are supposed to happen? – In large, urban, mostly minority communities where gun possession is less common? Apparently so.
During the same week as the shooting in Chardon, Ohio there were a rash of killings in Detroit that given the circumstances, received little or no national attention:
9-month-old Delric Miller, killed Feb. 20 when someone sprayed his family’s home with at least 37 rounds from an assault rifle,
A 6-year-old was critically wounded by a gunman who opened fire on his mother’s car in an attempted carjacking;
Tamiko Robinson, was shot 10-12 times with a 12-gauge shotgun while she slept on a sofa. Police arrested her 14-year-old son, with whom relatives said Robinson had feuded about sneaking out of the house to be with friends.
Kadejah Davis, 12 years old was killed when Joshua Brown, 19 fired shots through the front door of the home where she lived with her mother. Apparently, Joshua was brought to the home by his mother to help her settle an argument over a cellphone with the victim’s mother. Joshua is charged with first-degree murder and his mother, Heather Brown, is charged as an accessory. (WTF!!)
During a press conference, Detroit Mayor Bing called on residents still reeling from the wave of senseless violence and death, to take back their city :
“Let’s stop the madness. Let’s get out here in the streets, let’s get at our homes, let’s let these young people know that we care about them and at the same time we are not going to allow them to create havoc on the citizens here in this city.”
You would think this number of killings of children and a mother – primarily by children – would merit some national attention, if only of the tabloid variety but unfortunately all the victims of these crimes were Black and their murders are not considered by the media to be unusual, noteworthy or profitable.
In Cleveland, Ohio just a few miles from Chardon, six people lost their lives over the course of a weekend in February, all but one the result of gun violence:
Antwon Shannon, 27, of Garfield Heights, was fatally shot about 2:20 a.m. Sunday after a dispute in a local bar.
Cedric Tate, 20, and Trevon Brown, 19, were fatally shot after a night of drinking and gambling at a abandoned foreclosed home;
Thomas Lorde, 35, killed his former girlfriend, Latasha Jackson, 20, and her year-old daughter, Chaniya Wynn, after he abducted them and forced them into an abandoned garage. Jackson was shot three times in the head and torso. Chaniya was shot twice in the head and torso. Lorde then shot himself in the head.
Why are these deaths not worthy of attention? Why do we continue to pretend not to see the carnage that’s taking place in poor communities or has it become so common that we no longer view it as “news”?? How can we fail to hear the cries of the mothers and children and friends of all those needlessly dying because we refuse to address the problem of drugs and guns in our society? Why do the deaths of three kids at school count more than if the same number of children killed in their homes?
A similar dynamic was at play during Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s recent visit to Mexico and Central America. The region is drowning in blood of the thousands of men, women and children that have been killed in the never-ending drug war that has dramatically escalated over the past six years. Mexico alone has experienced more than 50,000 deaths directly related to the drug war. Drug violence has surged in Mexico and Central America as cartels fight over tens of billions dollars annually from selling cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine to U.S. users.
The economic and political instability that followed the 2009 military coup which deposed Honduran President Zelaya, provided a unique opportunity for traffickers to increase the amount of drugs being shipped thru the country on its way to lucrative northern markets. Over the past three years fueled by the regional drug war, Honduras has accelerated its slide into corruption, poverty and violence – it now has the highest homicide rate in the world!!
The past year has witnessed the emergence of a nascent ‘people’s movement’ throughout Latin America demanding an end to the death and violence that are an endemic part of the war on drugs. The acclaimed Mexican poet Javier Sicillia led a march of more than 100,000 who demanded that President Calderon do something to stop the violence.
Napolitano was asked to respond to criticism of the U.S. led drug war by Latin American leaders who’ve deemed it a failure, pointing to the hypocrisy of the U.S. judging other country’s commitment to fighting drug cultivation and trafficking while having little success in reducing the demand for drugs that is the crux of the ‘prohibition problem’. “I would not agree with the premise that the drug war is a failure,” Napolitano said. “It is a continuing effort to keep our peoples from becoming addicted to dangerous drugs.”
Basically her message was the same old U.S. song, we have to keep on keeping on. We will keep fighting until we win the war on drugs and we’ll win the war on drugs because we keep fighting…
Napolitano’s comments were in part a response to Guatemala President Otto Perez, who has called for a regional debate on drug policy, including removing criminal penalties for drug consumption and production. “What we are putting on the table … although we know some are against it, is decriminalization,” Perez told reporters . “We have to study the issue of production, the issue of transport and also consumption”.
Vice-President Biden’s response to the critique of the drug war by Latin American leaders was essentially the same although, slightly more nuanced. He told them the U.S. is steadfastly opposed to drug legalization but is open to the debate because he believes it is without merit. According to a recent New York Times report:
Mr. Biden, beginning a two-day trip to Mexico and Honduras ahead of a regional summit meeting next month, told reporters that he welcomed a debate over legalization, but then he knocked down the arguments in favor of it.
He said he sympathized with Latin American leaders who are frustrated over violence tied to the drug trade and with the consumption habits in its biggest market, the United States. But the few potential benefits from legalization, like a smaller prison population, would be offset by problems, including a costly bureaucracy to regulate the drugs and new addicts, Mr. Biden said.
“I think it warrants a discussion. It is totally legitimate,” he said. “And the reason it warrants a discussion is, on examination you realize there are more problems with legalization than with nonlegalization.”
Mr. Biden made his comments shortly after meeting with President Felipe Calderón of Mexico, who has said that “market alternatives” — a phrase that many have taken as code for legalization — should be considered by the United States if it could not control the amount of drugs its citizens consume.
We continue to turn blind eyes to this:
Via: Rehab International
And deaf ears to any conversation that discusses the role of U.S. demand for drugs in fueling the violence and corruption plaguing our southern neighbors:
I say let’s call the Vice President’s bluff – let’s have the debate whether legalizing currently illicit drugs is better than the current system. Let’s have that debate at home and abroad. I believe if the public is ever able to hear the arguments presented openly and honestly the debate would be over and so would the war on drugs………