(The following op-ed piece appeared in the July/Aug. 1999 issue of METRO EXCHANGE.)
When a berserk Colin Ferguson boarded an afternoon Long Island Railroad train murdering six people, the cold-blooded murders became embedded in our minds as the LIRR massacre. But when Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris embarked on a carefully calculated shooting rampage, unexploded pipe bombs notwithstanding, and assassinated more than twice the number of people as did Ferguson, it is repeatedly billed as the Columbine incident. Their victims are rarely referred to as murdered in a massacre.
As the antics and instability of Littleton's Trench Coat Mafia's predatory nature is revealed, the networks, broadcast and cable, are manic in their ratings grabbing efforts to seek out the exclusive answers and solutions to this increasing epidemic of White on White crime that has exploded throughout all corners of the country leaving a growing number of bullet riddled bodies strewn across the more peaceful looking segments of our purple mountains' majesty. And as the survivors of the victims, the neighbors and friends of Littleton, Colorado; Paducah, Kentucky; Johnson City, Tennessee; Springfield, Oregon; and Jonesboro, Arkansas were shown to be incredulous in their conclusions that "It can't happen here," it keeps happening there.
But when Blacks and Latinos victimize their peers and other innocents in initiation slashings, brutal beatings and drive by shootings, they are generally relegated to minor air time and Page 20 news columns, their cause and effects commonly dismissed as the pathological behavior of these groups, genetically pre-disposed to their violent behavior because of no fathers, poor public education, drug addicted mothers, no positive role models and a perilous lack of midnight basketball.
The gang culture in America is almost as old as the country itself. The search to find answers as to why White children become entrenched in these violent group associations totally ignores the existence of Bonnie and Clyde, Ma Barker and her boys, La Cosa Nostra, the Irish gangs of Hell's Kitchen, fraternity hazing and the multitudes of Aryan offshoots of the Ku Klux Klan.
Although the various segments of entertainment mediums may be justly taking their hits at producing anything to the cause of profits, and though the occasional youthful murderer claims to have incurred their trade from some particular movie or video game, not enough attention is being paid to the terribly lacking sense of right and wrong. Prior decades had their fair share of violent war movies, violent westerns, and good-guys-always-win gangster movies. However, the youths of those decades seemed to have an innate sense of right and wrong when their parents sent them off to see John Wayne, Errol Flynn or a wonderfully vicious performance by Humphrey Bogart, Richard Widmark or James Cagney.
And while Tipper Gore and Senator Joseph Lieberman toured the country railing about how gangsta rap depicts violence and the sexual degradation of women, Bill Clinton was in the White House Oval Office auditioning interns for 2 Live Crew videos. The leadership message is very muddled when the only difference between the President of the United States and the misogyny of gangsta rap is that Clinton sees women as bimbos and trailer trash and rappers call them bitches and hos - but it's the same flavor.
As our politicians battle the movie industry, the music industry, the NRA, the Internet, video game manufacturers, television and each other, and the Chicago City Council moronically attacks Jerry Springer about whether his guests should be arrested if the fights are real, without applying the same standard to fights on the field, ice and court of the Cubs, White Sox, Blackhawks and Bulls, the mass murders in Littleton, Colorado et.al. clearly displays the stark contrast of how Black lives are held in less esteem than White lives by the government and the major news media.
When Black folks are violently victimized by remorseless, predatory Black folks we are told that it is endemic, pathological behavior for which the government solutions are excessive force, poorly trained Street Crime Units, racial profiling and all other manner of individual assaults on Constitutional rights and liberties. But when White folks are violently victimized by remorseless and predatory White folks, they are totally prepared to assault the Constitution itself.
BELATED FOOTNOTE: When black New Yorker, John Taylor and an accomplice herded a group of employees into the basement of a Wendy's Restaurant in Queens, New York and proceeded to shoot them in the head, the word incident never crossed a reporter's lips.