Silent Night

Before you start thinking of Santa and sleigh bells, watch this vimeo. All of it.

Then think of these words excerpted from "The Ballad Of Zero Gulch"

Say nought, nothing, zero

Be a silent hero.

Be nothing, Man,

You know you can

Live life

On the installment plan.

Bit by bit

Cool it, lose it,

Wither away

Delay, give sway,

Just obey

Don't shout, stand out, flare out, or pout

Just swallow the guff.

No one can say you got in the way

In the U.S. of A

Maybe you'd rather look at this chart compiled by the Guardian, showing the number of people killed by police in the United States of Anger. Month by month. State by state.

Still in doubt?

Read these words spoken by Christopher Prater, talking to his black children in a wealthy suburb of Detroit, not during the Civil Way, but on June 1 of this year: Put your head down and be quiet around white people in public. Be seen and not heard, and come home safely.

Michigan pales, compared to what has just happened in South Carolina. Here's how Jon Stewart responded on the Daily Show: Once again... we have to peer into the abyss of the depraved violence that we do to each other and the nexus of a just gaping racial wound that will not heal - yet we pretend doesn't exist.... We've invaded two countries and spent trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives and now fly unmanned death machines over like five or six different countries, all to keep Americans safe...We'll torture people! We gotta do whatever we can to keep Americans safe. Nine people, shot in a church. What about that? 'Hey, what are you gonna do? Crazy is as crazy is.' That's the part that I cannot, for the life of me, wrap my head around.

This is a terrorist attack. This is a violent attack on the Emanuel Church of South Carolina, which is a symbol for the black community...I heard someone on the news say, 'Tragedy has visited this church.' This wasn't a tornado. This was a racist. This was a guy with a Rhodesia badge on his sweater. So I hate to even use this pun, but this one is black and white. There's no nuance here...We are steeped in that culture in this country and we refuse to recognize it. And I cannot believe how hard people are working to discount it.

In South Carolina, the roads that black people drive on are named for Confederate generals who fought to keep black people from being able to drive freely on that road. That's insanity. That's racial wallpaper. You can't allow that.

Violence against fellow humans is an idelible blot on our legacy. Hatred of fellow Americans who are not "white bread" is shame-worthy. And we now have the capacity to wipe out the planet, overwhelm its resources, destroy millenia of culture, return to savagery. It starts small - we kill because we can, we turn our police into another branch of the military, we goose step our way through bigotry disguised as protest control. But as history shows us, escalation is swift and toxic.

We can do better. We had better do better. Otherwise, one day soon you may find yourself guilty of breathing while black, or hispanic, or female, or elderly, or in any way "different". None of us will be certain that we can come home safely. We have allowed the bigots and the bullies to define who we are, not only in the neighborhood police but in the neighborhood.

Do you want freedom to be just a notch on the belt of bullyism? Do you really want to be part of the last silent night of our nation? Because that's where we are headed, so long as we allow hatred to fester. Hatred corrupts. Fester erupts. What happened at the Emanual Church of South Carolina is a disgrace that we all share. Every time you teach a child to hate, you have participated in that horror. Look in the mirror, and be ashamed at what you, and I, and all of us have allowed to go on. Maybe the police are the reflection of us all, after all.

Silent night. Unholy blight.

Late note: Lest you think hidden biases are confined to the Deep South, consider this article from Ars Technica, which brings the issue squarely home to the predominantly white male culture of Silicon Valley. Does the shoe fit?

c. Corinne Whitaker 2015