Is Our Compassion Prejudiced?
Racism exists. In fact, Americans all over the nation experienced it and took part in it - from President Obama to the corner pharmacist - as we mourned the killing of innocent schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn.
For the past three-and-a-half weeks, the conversation from the breakfast restaurant to the fine dining bistro involved sympathy for the murdered children and their families. In fact, some of our New Year's celebration has been tempered by a nation in mourning for the death of "our" children, most of them well off, adorable - and white.
Columbine was similar.
Some try to highlight a few minority children killed or kidnapped. But the stories with "legs" always involve Adam Walsh, Caylee Anthony, or some other cute, upper-middle-class Caucasian.
As we cried over the children of Newtown, did anyone remember Angel Cortez-Nava? She was a 1-year-old Hispanic child killed when a bullet from a bicyclist struck her while she was playing with her father outside their lower-class Los Angeles home this past June.
Did our "post-racial" president order flags flown at half-staff for Allyah Shell? She was a 6-year-old child gunned down this past March while sitting with her 2-year-old sister on the steps in front of her Chicago home.
How about Aydan Perea? He was a 4-year- old from Kansas City. Aydan was shot and killed about the same time as the children of Newtown. Rumor has it that Paul Simon did not offer to sing at Aydan's funeral, as he did in Connecticut.
School killings are infrequent, at most. Perhaps that is why they are news. The chances of a stray bullet hitting an inner-city child outside his home are exponentially higher than a child being killed even while attending class at an inner city school.
We are obsessed with keeping classrooms safe from an attack as infrequent as a blizzard during a blue moon. Yet we ignore the certainty that the deaths of Ayden, Angel and Allyah will be replicated next year and for years to come. We sacrifice the safety of inner-city Aydan for the safety of suburban Connecticut Noah simply because the latter simply makes better press.
This past year, about 34 children were shot to death in President Obama's Chicago. Within that context, the Newtown shooting of 20 was barely news. Shouldn't we mourn Chicago's loss of 34 as vigorously as we mourn the 20 from Newtown?
Now, I do not believe that Allyah's, Angel's and Aydan's lives could have been spared by stricter gun laws. The gang members who killed them do not care about the law. It is perhaps silly to believe that criminals who risk capital punishment for murder would care about firearms regulation. The same could be said of the Newtown killer.
Anyway, gun control, pro or con, is not the subject of this column. This article actually calls into question the sincerity of our compassion. It asks us to step back from a crowd that is shocked that children are the victims of mass murder. Mass - or at least serial - murder is a fact of life for many.
In order to solve this problem, all of us have to understand that violence is commonplace for children of the poor. And no matter how much money we pay or our government borrows, very little will change until we ourselves change.
In essence, Democrats must understand that their expensive programs have not saved the lives of inner-city children. Nor is gun control for gangs dealing drugs in L.A. likely to stop crime in the United States any more than banning antique shotguns in Mexico has stopped a drug war there.
Republicans, too, must concentrate on conservative principles of economic expansion for the inner city as well as the outer suburbs. God will not tolerate those who mourn for 6-year-old Noah Pozner of Newtown while ignoring 7-year-old Heaven Sutton of Chicago, the latter gunned down in June while selling summer candy outside her home.
Together, we can build a safer place for children to study and play. But not just the ones whose death gets the best press from citizens and politicians more concerned about "us" than "all of us."
Robert M. Levy is chairman of the Moore County Republican Party. Contact him at Law52@prodigy.net.
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