It didn’t take long after the verdict in the Zimmerman murder trial for the monolithic conservative propaganda machine and all of the volunteer cheerleaders and echo chambers to take up the mantra that it was really Blacks and liberals who were racists for “fanning the flames” unfairly. From Barrack Obama—hell especially Barrack Obama—to the usual suspects pronounced as one word JesseJacksonAlSharpton, to liberal gun control activists, to anyone who had a decent word to say about a murdered boy.
Key to the chorus was the constantly repeated mantra that everyone was ignoring the real problem—Black on Black crime on the streets of the nation’s cities, especially Chicago where sadly enough Black kids—and adults who get in the way—are bumped off by the half dozen on a busy weekend night.
It sounds so almost reasonable that semi-respectable mainstream media gladly picked up the meme, as they so often do. Even Black leaders, naturally concerned with the carnage in their communities, often repeat it.
Of course all of the tsk-tsking cable news talking heads, radio ranters, smug op-ed columnists, and the screeching bigots who troll the internet with snarky comments don’t give a rat’s ass about the Black kids bleeding on the pavement. They are just useful props for their propaganda.
Funny that they never mention White on White violence. But it is every bit as common as Black inter-communal slaughter. And given the still numeric plurality in society more common. As Edward Wyckoff Williams pointed out in an insightful blog entry Don’t White People Kill Each Other, Too? which was posted on The Root, an on-line journal of Black experience in America:
...White Americans are just as likely to be killed by other whites. According to Justice Department statistics 84 percent of white people killed every year are killed by other whites....whites commit the majority of crimes in America. In particular, whites are responsible for the vast majority of violent crimes. With respect to aggravated assault, whites led blacks 2-1 in arrests; in forcible-rape cases, whites led all racial and ethnic groups by more than 2-1. And in larceny theft, whites led blacks, again, more than 2-1...
Despite this flood of White crime, Blacks are far more likely to be convicted of crime, less likely to be placed on probation or alternative sentencing, and given far longer sentences than Whites convicted of the same crimes. The resultes are prison and jails jammed with Blacks and other minorities held under increasingly harsh conditions. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander, one of the most important books of the year, discusses the dreadful consequences.
Look, the plain fact is that all folks—White, Black, Brown, the Pigmentation-of-your-choice—overwhelmingly kill the folks they are closest to and live with and amongst. That means family members, pesky neighbors, co-workers, friends, and drinking buddies. Even gang violence and stranger-on-stranger robberies and street crime occur largely within our highly segregated communities. No matter where they live, Americans are not apt to voluntarily spend time with or around members of other races.
Without White on White murder we would not have all of those murder-of-the-week true crime stories on cable networks and what used to pass as legitimate Network newsmagazines, because the conventional wisdom is that no one is interested in how or why Blacks die. Yet despite the evidence that these shows plainly present to their overwhelmingly White fans, the viewers are in denial about White on White crime and more than willing to obsess on supposed Black violence and criminality.
There are some differences between Whites and minorities when it comes to street violence and murder of strangers. Blacks and Latinos are more apt to be caught up in gang violence and crime related to the illegal drug trade. That’s simply because those communities are disproportionately poorer, always a marker for crime, and apt to pursue the drug trade as one of the few avenues of economic advancement. But in poor white communities, if not comfortable middle class suburbia and urban enclaves of hipsters, professionals, and the wealthy, gang and drug murders occur at about the same rate as the worst Chicago Ghetto.
On the other hand Whites are much more likely to commit some of the most feared forms of modern violence—mass murders, serial killings, and domestic terrorism and their victims are usually White.
In all of these cases the huge death tolls by murder in this country, unmatched by any country in the world not actually at war, are made worse by the free and easy access to guns.
America has had violent street gangs since the early 19th Century but even at their worst, their massive street brawls resulted mostly in a few cracked heads, pushed in noses, knocked out teeth, and stabbings. People died, of course, but not so readily or easily. It was not until the widespread introduction of cheap handguns in the ‘60’s—the old Saturday Night Specials—that gang violence began to take a more lethal turn. An escalating arms race between newly amalgamated mega-gangs flush with unlimited drug money and police have unleashed ever deadlier, higher powered semi-automatic weapons onto the streets with predictable results. Guns get in the hands of gang bangers and criminals through a black market that begins with “legitimate” sales to straw purchasers in the suburbs and with stolen weapons.
White folks are arming as never before as well, after being whipped up into a frenzy of fear of street crime, “the coming race war,” and fantasies of UN Black Helicopters and Obama-come-to-get-ya. All of the sophisticated weaponry which they are easily able to purchase legally, all of the millions of rounds of ammunition sold and hoarded, all the fashionable conceal carry laws have not made us any safer.
For all of the boast and braggadocio, guns are statistically seldom used in self-defense or to thwart an active crime. There is zero, zilch, nada reliable statistical evidence that wide spread possession of firearms even has the promised deterrent affect against crime. But easily accessible guns are used in more deadly domestic situations, are involved in numerous accidents when handled by children, drunks, and morons, and guarantee that a passing suicidal gesture that might have ended with a trip to the hospital for a stomach pump is a permanent splatter on the wall. And, of course, our psychos and serial killers have access to more firepower than a World War II rifle platoon in one light weight “modified hunting rifle.”
Let’s end Black on Black, White on White, Human on Human murder. How? Let’s try this:
- Reduce the number of firearms circulating in the United State by say 70% by vigorous police work, education and gun buy backs, and sharp limitations on manufacturing and importation, stark limitations private sales, and elimination of most gun dealer licenses for those without brick and mortar stores.
- Rigorous background checks on gun buyers and licensing renewable at short intervals with review of arrest records and domestic violence incidents. Cool down waiting periods of a week before taking possession of a weapon. And leaving the “well-regulated Militia” to the actual Militia, a/k/a the National Guard. Let hunters, recreational, target shooters, householders, security professionals, and antique collectors have access to fire arms designed for those for those purposes, not for wholesale military assault.
- End the useless and counterproductive War on Drugs. Immediately release the hundreds of thousands locked up for non-violent drug offenses and provide treatment and counseling for them. Decriminalize most drugs and narcotics, regulating distribution for safety, licensing and taxing sales. Our own experience with Prohibition and its end shows us that legalization destroys the black market and the criminal enterprises that thrive—and murderously compete—in its operation. Experience in Europe and elsewhere also shows that without the forbidden fruit factor and with wide-spread easily and freely obtainable treatment, de-criminalization drug use and abuse actually plummeted.
- Make comprehensive medical care, including mental health services available to all and work to reduce the stigma for seeking those services.
- End austerity now! Invest in education and infrastructure in our cities—including Detroit and Chicago. Scrap education reform that lines the pockets of privatizers and spend money on actual education. This can largely be funded by the enormous savings from ending the War on Drugs, relieving far more than half of the burden on the criminal justice system, and slashing expensive prison populations. Additional savings by reducing corporate welfare, and reducing the bloated Defense budget and avoiding unwinnable, never ending wars, as well as tax revenue from a new legal drug distribution system, should make it possible. Nothing is more effective in reducing violence and crime than reducing poverty and hopelessness.
None of this will please or satisfy the ideologues or those who profit greatly from our continued misfortune. Those of them who have bothered to read this far without their heads exploding, are racing to the keyboard to launch rants, ravings, denunciations, phony arguments, bluster, and threats. It’s what they do. Let them. Ignore them. Don’t engage them in tit-for-tat.
Let the rest of us get to work actually ending the carnage. It’s a big job, but somebody has to do it…and somebody is only us…