Tuesday, May 19, 2015
I Await My Lecture on White-on-White Crime
You've heard the news, right? About the biker gang shootout there that claimed nine lives? It looks like it was truly, profoundly, vividly horrifying.
At least, I think it was a shootout. It has been referred to as many other things, like a shooting and a brawl.
What I haven't heard it referred to is a riot, or an act of domestic terrorism.
Even though it is both of those things as well.
Here is how the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines riot:
A situation in which a large group of people behave in a violent and uncontrolled way.
Does a horde of dozens of bikers attacking each other--and eventually the police--with knives, brass knuckles, and then guns fit this? Yeah.
And here is how the FBI defines domestic terrorism:
Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;
Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination. or kidnapping;
And occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.
Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law? That's a no-brainer.
Appear intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population? Considering the venue of the shootout (a restaurant open to the public), and its effect on both witnesses and the general American populace, it sure looks that way, and certainly the gangs were trying to coerce each other with their violence.
And occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.? Check.
So why aren't we calling what happened in Waco either of these things, a riot or an act of domestic terrorism?
Could it be because, as is evinced in the photos like the one above (from the New York Daily News), many (though certainly not all) of the assailants in Waco appear to be white?
While the protestors in places like Ferguson, Baltimore, and elsewhere appeared to be mostly (though not entirely all) black?
And while we see terrorists as mostly Arab or Muslim, never mind the reality of lily-white, corn-fed American terrorists like Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols, and Eric Rudolph?
And while the other extremely violent act we tend to associate with Waco was the ATF raid on the Branch Davidian cult that was led by a white man, David Koresh?
And those are some bad, bad guys. Honestly, it sounds like us whiteys need to focus on cleaning up our own problems before telling our African-American and Muslim neighbors how to protest--after all, lest we forget, as recently as the 1960s and 70s, "race riots" often meant white racists bombing black churches or lighting crosses in front of homes of African-Americans.
And as a solo pastor of a Christian Church in a predominantly white town, I suppose that means that I am a leader in the "white community," whatever that is.
Ergo, I now await my lecture from leaders of other race communities on how I should be focusing on white-on-white crime and on white gangs and on white fatherlessness before I go a-throwin' stones in my little glass house.
And if you read that previous paragraph and thought to yourself, "Eric, that was a completely ridiculous thing for you to say there"...do you see the problem with saying that exact same thing to other racial communities? Do you see how it is a BS non sequitur and straw man meant to distract us from the pre-eminent issue of genuine, authentic, sure-as-death-and-taxes freedom and equality for everyone in our land?
There is still a double standard when it comes to race in America. We think that racism only exists when, say, someone uses the n-word or whenever Cliven Bundy opens his mouth. But that's a fiction, convenient enough for us to tell each other is truth. No, racism, much like the devil himself, doesn't announce its presence in the same ways it used to.
That fact shouldn't surprise us. Just as we evolve, and civilization evolves, so too do our sins. We have been killing one another ever since Cain killed Abel, only now we do it not with clubs or spears but with technological weapons like guns, bombs, and missiles. We have committed adultery ever since David and Bathsheba, only instead of lusting after women bathing on their rooftops, men now get a subscription to Ashley Madison.
And just as we don't hurl out the n-word as a matter of course, we have instead found other ways for our racism to express itself.
Waco exposed that. Or, at least, it should have. I fear that for some of us, our blindness may forever keep us from seeing.
But even for the man born blind, Jesus was able to tell him to wash in the pool of Siloam, and that when he came back, he would be able to see again (John 9:7).
May God instruct us to go and awash our own eyes, so that we might see ourselves, our prejudices, our neighbors, our fellow humanity...again. Anew. In wholeness. In understanding.
And ultimately, perhaps one day, in truth.
Yours in Christ,