Commentary: RACE AS YESTERDAY'S RELIGION
by Adam Abraham
American Reporter Correspondent
San Diego, Calif.
SAN DIEGO -- I have nothing but praise for the efforts of law enforcement authorities and agencies in apprehending John Allen Muhammad and John Lee Malvo, the suspected D.C. area snipers. It would be easy to criticize police for unknowingly having the suspects their hands for traffic citations, etc., but letting them go.
One could carp about how badly they played the telephones, or how they didn't talk to each other, or about the jurisdictional squabbles that came into play. But none of them shot at least 15 innocent people in cold blood, killing at least 11. None of them terrorized an entire region by taking human target practice with a Bushmaster XM15 semiautomatic assault rifle.
Let's give the police some credit. Some people are quick to accuse law enforcement of racial profiling. To hear them, you'd think it was automatic, that "DWB" (driving while black) was the rule rather than the exception. Yet if it was, then in the snipers' case perhaps "profiling" might have saved the day. But they John Muhammad was not a threat, they thought, so they let him go back to sleep - the first time. The ironies are rich. Racial killing is aberrant behavior, but it is rare that such a killer will be black. The last, when Colin Ferguson went berserk, on a Long Island Rail Road commuter train on December 7, 1993, still comes to mind. But the D.C. sniper case also stood out because the killings took place in an upper class region, not in some graffiti-plagued, gang-infested inner city where robbery, murder, and mayhem are a fact of life. John Allen Muhammad's actions represent an extreme example of what can happen when we maintain an "us vs. them" way of thinking against any people, irrespective of race, religion, gender or nationality. No one who is actively trying to kill someone else is ever "good" to his or her target. Allen and Malvo, the modern-day Sacco and Vanzetti, should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and then punished accordingly.
For the rest of us, the important thing to be gleaned from this case is for individuals - you and me - to cherish and enjoy life and honor each other. Rage is yesterday's news. Let's not make it tomorrow's. We don't have to do it. As a schism-form, race is yesterday's "religion." It need not be tomorrow's. Generations ago, racial schism - or dichotomies, as we used to call them - was the law of the land in America, and too often it was the turn of mind as well. But schisms don't exist in a vacuum. Before they can exist, all parties - each in its role - must somehow embrace them. And the residual effects of our racial caste system continue; individuals still base their assumptions on statistical data instead of qualitative, experiential understanding. Yes, human beings can't have or know anyone's experience but their own, even if we can sound like we can. Yet our assessment of others is like their assessment of us, and that consensus may be evidence of our whole people's character. I would like to see a safe and prosperous America, and a safe and prosperous world. Waging war, even to "ensure" our prosperity is not, in my opinion, the best way to make the world a safer place. Sending Americans to "secure" another country - to kill another country's men who will defend, even though their leader is a tyrant - doesn't end the desire to continue to engage in war.
Americans should be using their imaginations more, individually and collectively, to diffuse the "warspeak" and "jihadism" of the various sides. The silence of reasonable men amid escalating rhetoric implies tacit approval. I can be silent no more. The sun shines on every human being on this planet. Oxygen doesn't deny itself to anyone who can breathe it in. It goes to all and nourishes them equally, each to his or her need. Gravity holds down every human being, each to their need. It doesn't pick and choose who is worthy of "gravitational anchoring" to the planet's surface.
Who are we - whether we're talking John Allen Muhammad, President George W. Bush, Palestinians or Israelis - to decide that someone else doesn't belong, and that we're going to eliminate them? It's not our place to unilaterally decide what is "right" for someone else. It is our place to be clear on what is right for us, and to create relationships that don't involve annihilation as a possibility. Of course, my ramblings represent rational thinking as applied, in both hindsight and hope, to irrational behavior. I'll concede that point. Yet, the truth applies. Rational thinking must be presented, examined, and given a chance, even if the individual to whom the idea is addressed is irrational.
I believe that everyone will be rational and peaceful under the right circumstances. Yet I also believe there is a price that many are willing to pay by acting on a higher level and striving to create a life worth living instead of dying or killing for. It may have little to do with money. But let's agree to look for it and be willing to make a new deal. That would be "fresh" indeed.