As I started to write this post I got a call. It was to pick up at the Barnes-Jewish hospital emergency room. Pulling up I saw a large group of grieving family members. Have witnessed the exact same scene many times at the Barnes-Jewish ER. Always tears, always a tension with security, and unfortunately almost always African-American.
If you read the Evening-Whirl you can know the stories of these victims. In most other local media outlets murder victims get passing mentions….unless the victim is white. When the victim is white look forward to relentless in-depth media coverage coupled with a vigorous investigation by the police.
Not just a race issue though. It is also class. If you’re poor, white and strung out on dope you might get a little more attention than the young black males filling the city morgue on the regular; but you won’t become a household name like Megan Boken or Nicholas Kapusniak.
Some people rush to STLtoday and other local news outlets to make sure the recent homicide victim wasn’t a friend or family. Others complain even recognizing the humanity of victims and reporting their deaths in the media gives St. Louis a bad image which in turn leads to their derision at cocktail parties out of town.
This isn’t just a St. Louis story. The same can be said of Chiraq, Killadelphia, or any number of cities.
It’s no wonder that a nation with such a mentality takes little time to reflect on those we kill in our name. Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan are remembered in America in terms of the numbers of dead American troops. Of course I share in this remembrance of these mostly working-class Americans who gave their lives at the command of older men directing these less than honorable missions.
Our last President, George W Bush, had little regard for the lives of those serving under his command and even less regard for the lives of others. Our current President, Barack Hussein Obama, has demonstrated he cares deeply about the lives of Americans, he just doesn’t seem to give a damn about the lives of anyone else.
Just as St. Louis only seems to get worked up about victims of murder if they’re white and aren’t perceived as Hoosiers our President only is moved by the prospect of losing American lives. The drones he loves so much, a weapon of cowards, routinely take the lives of innocent men, women, and children. The stories of the dead in Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan are just as meaningful as the deaths of Americans. Yet, how often do we hear them? How often do reflect upon those loses?
Which brings me to Israel. There is no nation which values the lives of her citizens more than Israel. The death of each soldier is mourned by the entire nation. Victims of terror attacks become household names and the homes of their families become shrines visited by thousands. For the remains of dead Israeli soldiers the government is willing to release hundreds of prisoners and pay large sums of money. Every Israeli military action is designed to minimize Israeli casualties.
Having lost 6 million Jewish lives in the Holocaust and countless more in crusades, pogroms, riots, and ethnic-cleansings in the past every Jewish life is seen as precious by the Jewish State.
Every Jewish life.
As Israelis in Sderot sit in their lawn chairs enjoying BBQ cheering as bombs land in civilian areas what respect are they showing for human life? Israeli media figures, politicians and thinkers are on an all-out offensive defending Israeli agression in Gaza and minimizing the significance of the loss of life of so many Palestinian children.
In St. Louis if you’re white and not a Hoosier your death has meaning and no one else’s does, in the White House only the lives of American soldiers has meaning, and in the Jewish State only the lives of Jews matter.
If even one Jewish child were to die in a terrorist attack the nation would be in mourning for years. Israelis are still mourning those teenagers killed in the horrific suicide bombing attack of a pizzeria more than a decade ago. Yet when it comes to Palestinian children blown to bits in their sleep all many Israelis can respond with is jingoistic my side is right sloganeering. Israel has a right to exist: but not Palestinian children.
Of course we need not look across the world to the lynching parties in Sderot. Right here in America there have been Pro-Israel rallies supporting the campaign in Gaza. Curiously enough the Israeli right-of-retutn remains on the books and yet those young American Jews tweeting and cheering for the Israeli bloodbath in Gaza seem to be more comfortable cheering from the sidelines.
While both Obama and Israel seem to view Muslim blood as cheap many Muslims also seem to share this view. While nearly all Muslims are united in grief and disgust over the carnage in Gaza how many cheer for carnage in other places?
How many Sunnis cheer on their side in the bloody civil wars in Syria and Iraq even as their side commits the most heinous acts? How many Sunnis are indifferent at the bombing of mosques and buses full of Shia in Pakistan?
How many Shia cheer on the agression of their own side even when it goes over the top and becomes indiscriminate?
How many screaming human rights in Gaza today supported blatant violations of human rights such as the coup in Egypt, the oppression of the junta since that time, and the complicity of the Egyptian Dictatorship in the plight of Gaza?
While the entire Ummah cries for Gaza ( rightfully so) where are the cries for the dead black Muslims in the Central African Republic, the impoverished Rohingya and so many others?
Not valuing human life starts local and spreads global. If we value human life starting at the local level surely that can go global too.