Mark A. Sequeira
There has been no shortage of tragedies over the past few years. Some, like Sandy Hook, make national headlines, while others, such as the Georgia military veteran who killed her 4 children and then herself, dominated local and regional news. The most recent tragedy involves the shooting of Roanoke news station’s Alison Parker and Adam Ward by former co-worker Vester Flanagan. As usual there are some who attempt to hijack such a somber event with politics, polemics, and personal agendas. From blaming the President to anthropogenic climate change, the string-of-beads logic inevitably finds its way into the discourse. I’ll admit that I sometimes envy the unbridled freedom that such “logic” avails its indifferent interlocutors. Their arguments almost always seem to conform to a similar mold, a series of false dichotomies from which they draw a usually ambiguous, but almost always wrong, conclusion. Even worse is when such arguments and conclusions are presented arrogantly and authoritatively, so as to disparage all of their ideological opponents who must surely be divinely relegated to stupidity. Oh, if only logic had no internally consistent rules to hinder me from espousing rank fecal opinions, then maybe I, too, could engage in intellectual lethargy and experience the proverbial bliss that seems eternally bound to ignorance. But, alas, logic won’t let me be great. Or will it? Maybe bliss isn’t infinitely bound to ignorance. Perhaps, like most bound states, it only requires the appropriate energy to escape. Maybe bliss can be liberated via LASER-like logic, tuned appropriately of course. A philosophical photoelectric effect, of sorts.
The most recent representation of the ignorance-bliss problem revealed itself in a comments section. It’s true that comments sections are akin to ideological black holes. So why even address such ideologies? In keeping with the black hole analogy, much of the information that ends up in a black hole originated somewhere else, and so represents some non-trivial manifestation. In other words, all those comments represent some non-trivial population of people in our society. In relation to the recent Texas pool party incident, a Florida principal and a Texas elementary school teacher were fired for their online comments about the incident. Principals and teachers are far from isolated, socially inept fringe elements of American society. Even if you take the position that their views were marginal, and therefore insignificant, their positions, and subsequently their influences, in society are not marginal. I posit that the comment I read is merely representative of a larger segment of society. The nature of the sentiment posted was: “Where are all the ‘Black Lives Matter’ people when two White people are killed? Where is the outrage?” Although I encountered this sentiment in a comments section, it can easily be found in social media, television media, print media, and every day conversation. Such sentiments are often expressed confidently, with overtones of sarcasm and mockery. Almost as if that sentiment represents the elusive “gotcha” moment they’ve been tirelessly seeking. They believe this sentiment is clever. Let’s see why it is not.
In a country where 78% of the population is White, examples of tragic White deaths abound. So, let’s consider some of the more recognizable ones. JonBenet Ramsey, the Oklahoma bombing, Ted Kaczynski (Unibomber), Columbine shooting, 9/11 attacks, Sandy Hook shooting, Boston Marathon bombings, Chattanooga military shootings, etc. All of these, and more, represented senseless acts of violence committed without remorse. The victims were overwhelmingly, sometimes exclusively, White. Black people collectively mourned these unspeakable tragedies, along with the rest of the country. What Black people did not collectively do is blame the victims for their own deaths. Black people did not collectively rationalize the actions of the perpetrators in order to justify the brutal nature of their crimes. Black people did not collectively accuse anyone of overreacting. Black people did not collectively seek out past misdeeds or mistakes to vilify the victims. Black people did not collectively set up defense funds to help the perpetrator. Collectively, Black people mourned, because that is the humane response that a tragedy deserves. The fundamental reason for this is that, collectively, Black people inherently understand that All Lives Matter. However, when large segments of the American population refuse to reciprocate compassion for Black lives lost, it compels us to emphasize for the detractors that “All Lives” includes “Black Lives”, hence the phrase “Black Lives Matter”. The two concepts are not in opposition to each other. One is a subset of the other, a fact that apparently still requires reiteration. Fly away, Bliss, you are free.