Today I am moved to write after reading a sad analysis of the murder of Jordan Davis, a 17 year old black child whose murderer presumably shot him because, well, because he was black and because the murderer could. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dl-hugley/law-and-unintended-consequences_b_2246220.html) This young man’s death was not linked to my brother’s death. It was not linked to the death of so many young people in Gaza during the brutal “Operation Pillar of Defense.” But since I know something of grief, I feel that I should share a purely emotional appeal.
The pain of Alex’s death is nearly unbearable. It is constant, it is vast, and it is the focal point of my existence. My life is now neatly divided into the time before July 13 and the time since; the fact that others think of anything else is something I know in a logical sense but cannot grasp in an emotional one. My brother’s death was unjust only in the cosmic sense, however. No one killed my brother. No one, save a handful of mentally ill conspiracy theorist internet trolls, blames my brother, his politics, or his family’s background or politics for his death. And yet I am, at times, out of my mind with grief and rage.
I cannot imagine the pain of Jordan Davis’s family, knowing that Jordan will be blamed for his death, that pundits will fault his parents for raising a teenager who listened to loud music, that knowing exchanges will go on between newscasters about the apparent threat of young black men with sympathy towards the threatened murderer, that more middle-aged white men will congratulate themselves in their gun ownership. I certainly cannot imagine the fear of black parents out there, knowing that their child could be next and they will be blamed.
Similarly I cannot imagine the pain of the survivors in Gaza, who even as they suffer the deaths of their children and siblings are being blamed for those children’s death. Those survivors who live with the constant knowledge that they are always at risk of being murdered, who know those weapons are coming from us, who know that at best they are viewed as collateral damage and at worst their tiniest infants are viewed as terrorists.
The disgusting and dismissive things I read and see about these deaths hit home in a new way while I grapple with my brother’s death. I am appalled that so many can be so callous. I examine these horrific statements and wonder whether the speakers have never lost a loved one, or whether they are so insulated in racism as to be unable to extend a single empathetic thought to someone who looks different. When these deaths are acknowledged at all, it is frequently in such a cursory “Yes, but . . . ” manner that it takes my breath away. I cannot imagine hearing “Yes, your brother died and I’m sorry, but . . .[fill in reason we have to go on risking the rest of your relatives.]”
There are many arguments for gun control. There are many arguments for ending the occupation of Palestine. But when it comes down to it, the argument that life is sacred seems to be tossed to the curb behind the sweeping powers of negotiation and funding. “Sure,” we read between the lines, “a couple of kids got killed, but the NRA’s funding and AIPAC’s funding are the serious issues, and we can’t rock the boat.” I am beginning to rethink my over-educated worldview in favor of the simple premise that our policies should not result in the deaths of children. Call me weak and naive if you wish, but I am a survivor and I am not the one hiding behind weapons or money.