Categorized | Kamin_Ben_Rabbi, USA

Church killer spawned by a racist society

By Rabbi Ben Kamin

Rabbi Ben Kamin

Rabbi Ben Kamin

ENCINITAS, California –That scary-eyed, sick young man in Charleston who sat among God-fearing people in church for an hour and then began to murder them says he wanted to start a racial war.

Really?  That war is well under way and even that factoid hasn’t crossed your little Nazi brain.  All you did was to create nine new angels of color in the heaven who, unlike the rest of us still stuck down here, have nothing further to fear in the 400-year American war of racial insecurity.

Now that a clear, ghastly pattern of white police offers, heavily armed, killing black men (and boys) at an alarming rate is spiraling, we anguish.  Not all of us, but many.  People of all races are asking: what is going on in our country?

For centuries, segregation, apartheid, and hate were rabidly preached in Southern white churches.  Does any 21st century rampaging bigot really think he invented the principles of the Confederacy?  Does any de facto postmodern Klansman fantasize that he’s the one keeping the Stars and Bars at full mast today above the statehouse in Columbia, SC?

What is hate?  When you can sit for a full hour among God-fearing people in a church of peace and then open fire on the human fabric of scripture.

Why is hate?  Because a civilization steeped in ethnic detestation is more sentimental about an incendiary old banner than it feels responsible for arming its deranged white sons with the ammunition of genocide.

I look at my strapping, nineteen year-old red-haired stepson and wonder, what if he were black?  How many things would I not be taking for granted?  What have I done lately to change anything for my black peers who are also fathers but who live a different reality in the very same country as me?

Not enough.

African American parents are terrified for their sons.  The families of police officers are defensive about their husbands, wives, and children who are in uniform, patrolling hostile streets, and too often confronting people (white and black, incidentally) who are indeed dangerous, stoned, desperate, and in need of proportional restraint.   Some of these targeted folks are also innocent—they lay bleeding on the pavement because perception, strained by primal fear, became a grim reality.

One has to be naïve or worse if one believes that a black person comes into this brutal scenario with any advantages.

Please note: each case is unique to its circumstance and to the facts, the fears, the challenges, the intimidation, and to human imperfection.  But the collective fact is indisputable: there is an urban war going on in American streets and human beings of color are winding up dead.  This bloody coda is not a question of legality.  It is a question of mortality.

I don’t have the answer.  But if we white folks simply do not think of black folks as human persons, (the abundance of white convicts rightfully sitting in our jails have criminal records, but their membership in the human race is not up for debate), then we will continue sliding down this slippery slope of racial horror and two justice systems.

No, I don’t have the answer.  Just a lot of pain and indignation.  I think it might be a grim blend of two things: we have completely professionalized the military after years and years of endless indecisive wars that are actually catastrophically misguided business ventures.  Corporations that build armaments and big banks that subsidize the process have been enriched and global terror has actually been emboldened.

Are we looking for a domestic substitute (often the black man) upon whom we can reposition our need to beat somebody?

It is now widely known that many US police forces are downright militarized.  This unchecked assault on black men is a transfer of white feelings of futility against “the other.”  It is a collective, gathering obscenity–given sanction by often amoral and complicit grand juries.

The other piece, almost too frightful to say, is that we were not ready for a president of color.  He won in 2008 because we deified him.  Then when he turned out to be just a man, we immediately began to build a golden calf beneath his mountain out of racial insecurity and primal American superiority neuroses.

And then even our churches continue to spill blood—the one color of which we agree upon.

Rabbi Kamin is an author and freelance writer.  You may comment to him at [email protected] or post your comment on this website provided that the rules below are observed.

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