by Joe Shea
March 11, 2011
NO SUICIDE IN THE HHO CAR-CAR
PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -- Guess who?
Nearly 47 years ago, in the wee hours of the March 13, 1964, morning, Kitty Genovese, a 29-year old lesbian arrived home from her bar-tending job. She was in the courtyard of her Queens' apartment, and she was stabbed to death. Supposedly 38 of her apartment neighbors heard her cries, her tortured screams, and saw the carnage ... and did nothing! The fact of the doing nothing was even given a name by the bewildered social scientists who were snagged by the question "How." The colloquial name chosen was the "Genovese syndrome," but more coldly, more clinically, "diffusion of responsibility."
The sorrow of it all.
This morning the details of a gang-rape of an 11-year old girl in a ramshackle neighborhood, just outside Houston, is leaving everyone to once again wonder, "How?" The utter horror of what we'd like to think should be an unspeakable, unimaginable crime against us all occurred shortly before Thanksgiving, last year. At least 18 young men were physically "intimately" involved, but not the least sufficiently emotionally involved that their consciences prevented them, from recording the attack on their cell-phones ... and passing the visual and audio record among their associates in the Cleveland, Texas school. One wonders ... what? What, like ... "oh yeah, that's really neat"? "You and at least 17 others ... to an 11-year old girl ... and you want to show it to me"? In the hopes of ... what?
The sorrow of it all.
The linkage. It's a series of dots, separated by years ... and we have learned nothing. We feel nothing. After the propagation of a lie and the foolish expenditure of billions, billions that could have built hospitals ... or schools, and the actual toll in human life lost and misery borne exceeded 59,000, all recorded on a V-shaped granite wall, and less than 40 years later ... another lie, and more lives snuffed ... and more billions that could have built hospitals ... or schools. We're still sending the sons and daughters of our neighbors to a peril and a task we ourselves have not the decency or the courage to either engage or to stand to refute.
The sorrow of it all. We feel nothing. Nothing.
In 1929 the market crashed, the consequence of a private enterprise system that had been permitted to run wholly unrestrained by the merest of regulations. That tripping to the precipice was followed by an economic nightmare that lasted 12 years, until a vicious attack upon us by the Empire of Japan violently shook us out of one horror and into another. Then, again, once again, in 1987, a financial system, left to its own corrupt freewheeling ways, crashed; the S and L crisis. Billions and billions of average American's life savings ran like a river of blood down the drain. It was on the backs of the average American taxpayer to bail the institutions; $124 BILLION!
Again, the sorrow ... . And we feel nothing.
And in the fall of 2008 ... another crash; provoked entirely by a conscience-free private enterprise system, robbed millions and millions of Americans of every tangible asset they had, and of every hope they were clinging to. What is our national response to what ought to be rage visited upon the perpetrators of the calamity? Attack on those who had nothing whatsoever to do with it ... primarily because ... they're close, because we can, and because they're relatively powerless to ward off our attacks. The "greedy," "bottom-feeding" teachers and police and firefighters and other government employees; that's what they're being called. We do that, call them the names and place all the blame on them ... because we can, and because they can't defend themselves. How proud we all must feel.
Yesterday afternoon I attended a performance of the Palm Springs Follies. What a joy-filled, delightful afternoon. The performance was concluded by the most rousing of patriotic tunes; "Yankee Doodle Dandy," "This Land is Your Land," "God Bless America." And the last of all: "The Star Spangled Banner." I strongly suspect that I was the only one who did not stand. I remained seated. That's because I refuse to support what is at best an outrageous, obscene lie: we are not any longer the "land of the free" or the "home of the brave." It's all a lie we tell ourselves, while we watch unconcerned the horrors being visited on our neighbors. At best we've become embarrassingly cowardly. And I won't pretend otherwise.
Perhaps the real truth is that the place where we live was never really the "home of the brave." Perhaps that's the truth. Nonetheless, until rather recently, the brave among us could shame the greater part of the population into becoming brave. Now ... we're just a collection of folks who are content to stand around ... No! We don't even stand around, we turn away from the sight, pretending we don't see that which is impossible to miss, exactly as did the neighbors of Kitty Genovese.
The sorrow. Just who the hell are we? What have we become? The sorrow ... and the shame
. AR Correspondent Ed Tubbs is in Palm Springs, Calif.