What does it mean to “look American?” Do I look American? Do you look American? — Chris Matthews
“Let’s hope the Boston Marathon bomber is a white American” — David Sirota, Salon
“White privilege is knowing that even if the bomber turns out to be white, no one will call for your group to be profiled as terrorists as a result, subjected to special screening or threatened with deportation,” writes author Tim Wise. “White privilege is knowing that if this bomber turns out to be white, the United States government will not bomb whatever corn field or mountain town or stale suburb from which said bomber came, just to ensure that others like him or her don’t get any ideas. And if he turns out to be a member of the Irish Republican Army we won’t bomb Dublin. And if he’s an Italian-American Catholic we won’t bomb the Vatican.”
Poor David has forgotten already. Nobody bombs whites like the United States of America. It was almost a hundred years ago, when as Bluto asked “was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!” No indeed. In response the US bombed Germany to rubble and nuked Japan for good measure. At the height of the fire raids against Japan Curtis Le May was incinerating a 100,000 people a night.
But that was back when organized attacks against the population of a country was war and you didn’t care what the color of your assailants were the way we enlightened moderns do today. You didn’t have people asking what it meant to look Japanese or wishing the Zeros were piloted by “white Americans.”
Things have changed since. Franklin Roosevelt might have called the strike on New York City a “sneak attack.” He might have called Boston a Day of Infamy. Nobody sees things in those terms any more. The Boston bombing was a “tragedy.” Like a freeway accident or when you slip and fall down the stairs and break your neck.
It’s something to forget. To get over. To move beyond. To blame God for or something. Today there’s nothing for it but to endure.
President Obama put it best at “at the Interfaith service in Boston for the victims and survivors.”
“Tomorrow, the sun will rise over Boston. Tomorrow, the sun will rise over this country that we love, this special place, this state of grace. Scripture tells us to run with endurance the race that is set before us.”
You can just imagine Franklin Roosevelt intoning those words over the smoldering wreck of the USS Arizona. Or maybe better he could have burst into song.
The sun’ll come out
So ya gotta hang on
Come what may
I love ya
Only he wouldn’t.
We don’t recognize evil any more any more than we do revenge. And to recognize evil in the modern world requires perceiving it as a pattern. To understand that large scale bad things come from organizations animated by an ideology directed by chain of command and funded by backers. We have lost that sight. The fundamental difference between the Left and Conservatives in 21st century America is that the latter believe in masterminds and the former to tend to think that unfortunate stuff just happens as a consequence of some congenital state of sin.
But we’ll take our medicine and wend our way back to grace and harmony. It’s been a long time since anyone spoke the words of Ivan in the Brothers Karamazov. “While there is still time, I hasten to protect myself, and so I renounce the higher harmony altogether. It’s not worth the tears of that one tortured child who beat itself on the breast with its little fist and prayed in its stinking outhouse, with its unexpiated tears to ‘dear, kind God’! It’s not worth it, because those tears are unatoned for. They must be atoned for, or there can be no harmony.”
Atonement cannot simply mean that these two particular individuals are imprisoned or sent to the lethal injection. It must mean if it means anything, that the organization which paid for their tickets and bombs is wiped out so that it may never harm again. No harmony is worth enduring its continued existence. That determination has nothing to do with color and everything to do with who our enemies are. Did I say “enemies”? We don’t do those either. We only do pigmentation.
Somewhere along the line, in our haste to don the complexion of our choice we’ve forgotten to be men. What is the color of a man?