Was the Christopher Lane killing racially motivated? Conservatives, who castigated President Obama for interjecting the nation’s highest office into the Trayvon Martin killing, say yes. Local authorities, however, disagree. The killers themselves confessed to being bored and to wanting the experience of killing someone. And one of the persons connected to this heinous crime is white.
The August 16th murder of 22-year old Australian baseball player for East Central University, has unleashed calls from conservative politicians, pundits, and media outlets for President Obama to make a public statement about the tragic killing. Yesterday, Oklahoma Governor Mary Falin [R] went on Fox News Sunday, stating: “It would be nice if our nation were to certainly express their condolences, how very sorry we are. This is a very unusual circumstance, we don’t anticipate that someone would commit such a brutal crime upon an innocent person….” .
While saddened by these events, some might argue that what prompted President Obama to speak on the George Zimmerman killing of Trayvon Martin was pressure from groups concerned that a criminal justice system, born out of black codes, operates differently for minorities. A system that left the young Martin’s body in a morgue for 72 hours while his parents were unaware of their son’s whereabouts. A system that committed numerous mis-steps in the aftermath of the Zimmerman shooting. Fortunately, the system responded as it should with a timely arrest and appropriate investigations in the Lane murder case.
African American and Hispanic-Latino communities experience senseless tragedies similar to the killing of Christopher Lane on a regular basis. Having lost a number of relatives to murder, the most recent being one of my closet just weeks ago, the pain is not lighter because the murder involves a U.S. citizen being killed — even if by a person of the same race. The tears are just as bitter whether they fall over a dead Caucasian in suburbia or a dead African American in the inner city. Blacks, particularly, see murders going unsolved in epidemic proportions, adding to the grief.
Nevertheless, Presidential intervention by way of public comments do not typically occur. And they are not expected to occur. Comments would consume the President’s daily press briefings.
Whether or not President Obama will comment on the murder of Christopher Lane remains to be seen. What we might consider are the following:
1. All life is precious. There are no stratified scales of dignity or grief that view life through the prisms of race. As such, Governor Falin and others might review the rolls of fallen bodies in their states and consider what calls did this require from the President in those previous cases.
2. The state must handle all cases of murder in the appropriate manner — irrespective of race. Such inexplicable acts not only take place in Chicago and Detroit, but also find themselves in small towns and rural places. Wherever murder rears its ugly head — whether in Sanford FL or in Duncan, OK — the state has a legal and moral obligation to treat them just the same. Equal protection under the law is inconvenient (for some), but it is the law, nonetheless.
3. Murder is a terrible reality of modern life in America. It routinely happens to innocent victims standing at bus stops, walking their children to school, carrying home grocery items, and jogging. The awful reality of our society, that has a love affair with guns, is that those who come here place themselves in harm’s way of being violated by the very culture that violates Americans daily.
4. No amount of political grandstanding will return Christopher Lane to his family. And no attempts by talking-heads will successfully use the Lane killing (and others involving black perpetrators) to distract well-meaning people of all races from systematic injustices that surfaced in the George Zimmerman killing of Trayvon Martin.
5 Public apologies might be viewed as hollow. Australia has stiffer gun control laws while we celebrate the proliferation of guns. Here, it would stand to reason that President Obama asks those calling for apologies to assist his efforts to seriously curtail gun trafficking and the flow of war weapons in the hands of ordinary citizens.
Those calling for extraordinary attention from a sitting President must be measured by the consistency of these calls where location, race, and socioeconomic stratum are concerned. We do both Trayvon Martin and Christopher Lane a grave disservice by morphing their deaths into a single public policy construct. Two killings. One committed by senseless youth who are being made to be accountable to the system. Another committed by a man and rationalized by that same system.
Such are my thoughts. What are yours? Cast a vote in the poll below. Leave comments. And SHARE this poll with others.
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