Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Matter of Perspective.

Well, as expected, the talk of the nation is the shootings at Virginia Tech yestersday, some for reasons other than what you might think. A sampling:

thefreeslave said: Many of us fear the identification of criminals responsible for high profile crimes - fear one of us will be fingered. Why? Because we KNOW that all of us receive an adverse sentence behind the actions of one of us.

I woke up this morning and saw the picture of a Korean man, the alleged shooter. Conflicted. “I thought it’d be a white student…but thank God it wasn’t a black man.”

Beyond the collective sigh of relief most of us are breathing that it wasn't one of our own committing the crime, there's also a need to keep the crime in perspective, as so very eloquently phrased at Racewire.org.

News outlets all over the country are calling the Virginia Tech massacre the deadliest shooting in modern American history.

But as one writer points out, this is another example of how mainstream media works to forget our painful history of race and violence.

I wish that AP, MSNBC and other news outlets would be intellectually accurate and honest. The "deadliest mass shooting" or "deadliest shooting rampage" in our nation's history occurred on June 1, 1921 in the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Tulsa Race Riot, also known as the 1921 Race Riot, the Tulsa Race War, or the Greenwood Riot, was a large-scale civil disorder. During the 16 hours of rioting, over 800 people were admitted to local hospitals with injuries, an estimated 10,000 were left homeless, 35 city blocks composed of 1,256 residences were destroyed by fire, and $1.8 million (nearly $17 million after adjustment for inflation) in property damage.

The always informative Juan Cole adds additional perspective, from a global war on terror perspective:

Iraq Has Two Virginia Techs Every Day;

The profound sorrow and alarm produced in the American public by the horrific shootings at Virginia Tech should give us a baseline for what the Iraqis are actually living through. They have two Virginia Tech-style attacks every single day. Virginia Tech will be gone from the headlines and the air waves by next week this time in the US, though the families of the victims will grieve for a lifetime. But next Tuesday I will come out here and report to you that 64 Iraqis have been killed in political violence. And those will mainly be the ones killed by bombs and mortars. They are only 13% of the total; most Iraqis killed violently, perhaps 500 a day throughout the country if you count criminal and tribal violence, are just shot down. Shot down, like the college students and professors at Blacksburg.

There's validity in each one of the statements above and as I've said before, this country has some soul searching to do. The issue of race in our society and its affect on things as disparate as sentencing guidelines; the continuing historical narratives and media memory lapses that dismiss or ignore the history of Blacks in this country; and the complete lack of perspective and compassion in respect to Iraq, a country in which we have unleashed Hell on Earth demonstrates again the myth of American, and particularly non-ethnic American exceptionalism. As the country and the world around us changes faster than we can really hope to keep up, doses of reality like those provided above are needed now more than ever.


Maxjulian said...


DP said...

Thanks for the comment maxjulian.