Tears For Charleston: Ruminations On Rage, Forgiveness And The Mythology Of Oppressed White Folk

Given the numbing news coming out of Charleston in the wake of this act of racist terrorism, some of my brothers in spirit, and cousins in pigment, are having a hard time wrapping their heads around notions of absolution and forgiveness as put forth by relatives of the victims to an unrepentant, ignorant-ass, white supremacist.  And who can blame them?

“Black Christians and this ‘forgive-forgive-forgive’ talk, shows exactly why slave masters handed Black slaves the Bible–obedient subservience.”

“Yes, I’ve grown weary of calls to pray, and forgive.”

I hear y’all, and I feel your rage, but consider this. I am not what you might characterize as an enthusiast for of any of the major monotheistic religions, including that of my own tribe. But dig: BY THEIR OWN LIGHT, these folks lived as Christians, they died as Christians, and their family and friends are attempting to forgive like Christians.

I mean, correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t recall the Nazz whipping out his semi-automatic and howling at the Romans, “I piss on you white motherfuckers.” He is alleged to have said “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” As well as, “turn the other cheek,” and “let he who is without sin…”

Okay, so most of us are more like Don Corleone: “If he should be struck by lightning, than I am going to blame some of the people in this room–and that I do not forgive.”

 The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
 Mahatma Gandhi
Frederick Nietzsche’s analysis of Christianity was that it was a SLAVE’S RELIGION from the get-go. That is to say, he distilled it down to the following notion: we are lowest on the totem pole, we are persecuted and victimized, therefore by virtue of our greater suffering, WE ARE THE ELECT OF GOD.  And indeed, that particular God–through an act of Vicarious Redemption–made a blood sacrifice of his only begotten son, or so the mythology goes, that he might redeem mankind.

Speaking only for myself, I am as appalled by that notion, as that of the patriarch Abraham hearing voices in his head, and going, “Yeah, sure, let me sacrifice my son on the altar to demonstrate my fealty and obedience unto thee.” Myself, I think of my daughter, I think of my grand-daughter, and the phrase FUCK YOU comes to mind. And the notion of the Blood of Christ? I am not judging, but speaking purely for myself, how is that different than any of the so-called pagan rites with which man initially confronted his fear of nature, his fear of death?

So many elements of the Negro Spirituals, if one may invoke that quaint term, speak in metaphors awash in Old Testament imagery of Jews in bondage, let my people go, go down Moses, and as you may recall, out of all this rejection and violence and suffering, my own tribe extrapolated the notion that we had a special covenant with The Desert Deity, and were thus the chosen people.

Which is why, to this day, I consider myself a Skim Milk Jew (one hundred-a-percent Jewish, without all-a the butterfat), and embrace Chico Marx as my rabbi.

Speaking of comedians, that little stooge Jeb Bush put his own peculiar spin on this tragedy while out on the campaign trail, apparently telling his audience that he was unable to fathom what was going through the killer’s mind. I mean, Earth to Jeb, nothing ambiguous here…THIS MOTHERFUCKER SAID PRECISELY WHAT WAS ON HIS MIND, if I may be allowed to loosely paraphrase: I am a duly-anointed representative of the oppressed white majority, and after only 400 years, we are still not prepared to let someone else drive, even for eight lousy years; as such, I am here to avenge all of the raped white women, and disenfranchised white folks, that the south might rise again to take back our country.  And so, in closing, my obliging Christian friends, thanks ever so much for your gracious hospitality during this past hour of Bible study, but the time has come for me to fulfill my destiny by executing you uppity niggers.

A LYNCH MOB mentality, plain and simple, which back in the day, was very much imbued with a commensurate sense of evangelical Christian righteousness.  Nothing ambiguous about a burning cross, nor strange fruit hanging from a poplar tree.  Pastoral scenes of the gallant south, indeed.

Hell, the victims themselves welcomed this viper into their midst, and treated him as a brother in spirit for over an hour, right up the point where he re-committed himself to his…mission, sparing one woman to let the world know what happened here today.

THE HORROR. Meanwhile, over the course of the past 24 hours, I had some exchanges with a beige brother on Facebook, given to taunting boring liberals like myself and invoking all of the hoary cliches with which to demonize the President, conveying the distinct impression that…well, let me allow him to have the last word on our exchange: “I’m not debating whether or not it was a hate crime. Although I would point out that despite the statistics, the media coverage of hate crimes is decidedly one sided.”

I mean, ag-oh-knee–white people really do have it rough. How so ever do they cope?  Indeed, the Clown Car Contingent of the current GOP Presidential field has been making braying noises about how under the tyrant Obama the oppression of Christians in America has come to match and even exceed that of Jews in Hitler’s Germany.  Such unbridled oppression of white folks, presumably by a cabal of Jew Socialists, Liberals and Nigras, is now touted as somehow commensurate with Krystal Nacht and Aushwitz.

Is it any wonder that in a climate of such divisive dog whistles and confederate flags, with right-wing talk radio and end-day bloggers fomenting irrational fear and loathing, that the seeds of hate and violence, the myth of of some ineluctable Negro Oppression crying out for revenge, and calling for a righteous champion to defend the honor of sullied white womanhood–not unlike the romantic depiction of the Klu Klux Klan in D.W. Griffin’s 1915 epic, BIRTH OF A NATION–would take root in the soil of an aimless young white man’s mind, awash as it was in the hubris of racial hatred, and thus susceptible to a hysterical helping of fear-mongering bullshit.  And to hear FOX NEWS spin it, this senseless, cowardly act of terrorism had no racial component whatsoever, la-de-dah, but was instead an assault on beleaguered evangelical Christians.  I mean, in what quadrant of the known universe is this delusional, self-pitying science-fiction tethered to reality?  [Sigh…]

In any event, watching the video of this miserable little puddle of piss standing there impassively at his arraignment, as the victims’ families, their hearts a-breaking, spoke of forgiving him…this Poor Pantheistic Pilgrim, this eternal Doubting Thomas, found himself deeply moved.  Personally, all I wanted was to go medieval on his scrawny little ass.

Could I have forgiven him like that. Not hardly. Do I understand? Not really. And yet I find myself reaching out to my black brothers and sisters, and without meaning to preclude your sense of outrage and horror, I would ask you to reflect for a moment and cut your fellow black brothers and sisters some slack. They are simply trying to be righteous, as they understand or experience Jesus.

Do I feel it? No.

Do I understand it?

Not really, BUT I RESPECT the level of spiritual commitment it represents for them; their steadfast refusal to wallow in the gutter with this evil, soul-less vessel of a humanoid. Is it pathetic? Well, one surely experiences pathos bearing witness to it. Is it noble? Praise Jesus, as the saying goes, it most definitely aspires to be. Were these poor parishioners victimized by their own sense of love and outreach and inclusion? Without a doubt. They were not simply reaching out to embrace the spirit of Jesus in this stranger, but trying to exemplify a sense of commonality; a shared sense of solidarity–to bond with this young man as GOOD AMERICANS…my country ’tis of thee…

Me? When I drove a cab, I picked up every shade of black, brown and beige, every ethnicity, and went to every neighborhood in the city. Not as an innocent, nor was it like I was doing someone a favor, or taking on pro bono work–I was simply trying to offer a service and treat everyone with respect.

Nevertheless, I checked out everyone very carefully, and every now and then, I would get up close and personal with someone who WAS CLEARLY A WRONG MOTHERFUCKER. Thank God I didn’t have a gun…just tried to keep my wits about me.

Which is why the most extraordinary thing about this massacre to me, besides the steadfast refusal of so many white people to own any aspect of it, is that these poor martyred souls were so imbued in Jesus, that they never judged, never excluded, never noticed that there was a serpent in their midst–that this white boy WAS CLEARLY A WRONG MOTHERFUCKER. That they had to pay for their faith, pay for their sense of love and inclusion, pay for their All-American sense of solidarity and brotherhood with their very lives–well…what can you say?

Simply that they represent the latest in a long line of African-American martyrs; victims of our endemic, deeply seeded, festering racism…of the ORIGINAL SIN by which this country was initially birthed, and which has remained largely unspoken, and wholly unresolved since the Founding Fathers, in their haste to reach a consensus and ratify the Constitution, fashioned an uneasy compromise which deemed slaves equal to 3/5th of a white man, for the purposes of putting congressmen from the more sparsely populated southern states on a roughly equal numerical footing with northern members of the House of Representatives.

And much as the blood of Jesus was supposed to wash away the stain of original sin, so the death and sacrifice of the Civil War was meant to symbolically resolve this fatal flaw in our collective covenant.  Alas, it would appear that some members of the Confederacy might want to check their data plan, because they never received the text message. “Oh, the flag is meant to signify a sense of heritage, not of hate.”  Well now, that is surely a canard.  I mean, how many more innocent people must die before we finally toss this divisive imagery and specious rhetoric in the compost heap of history where it belongs?

Maybe the time for forgiveness is past. Surely it is not possible to forgive, let alone comprehend, how someone could blow up four little girls attending Sunday School in a Birmingham church, or riddle the bodies of nine devout, welcoming, inclusive Christians in a historic Charleston church with bullets–all victims of some misguided, misanthropic sense of white privilege. I was inspired to start writing this missive on my Facebook Timeline by the posts of a very dear old friend, and fellow Knicks fan (speaking of something crying out for absolution), who was struggling with mixed emotions regarding black rage and his sense of moral and cultural impotence as it relates to the efficacy of…once again…for the umpteenth time…speaking in terms of prayer and forgiveness, when for all the world it feels like the empty gesture of some docile Uncle Toms.  I don’t see it that way, but then, I ain’t black.  Nor do I necessarily see myself as white…by which I mean to say, that white has naught to do with melatonin levels, but represents a peculiar state of mind, a vague sense of superiority and entitlement.  I’ll cop to being beige…let’s leave it at that.

Which is why, alas, when all is said and done, despite this gusher of verbiage. imbued as I might be in black music and black culture, as a beige outsider, I’m not sure I’ve said anything or have much to offer in the way of succor, outside of empathy, my own sense of outrage and the desire to extend comfort and support.  Still, even as a non-believer (in organized religion, not in spirit and consciousness), what I just witnessed, as one after another, members of the victims’ immediate families could find it in their hearts, to abide by their sense of what Jesus would do, and extend the olive branch of forgiveness to this demented dweeb…well, even if I am unable to co-sign that notion, the sheer decency of that gesture, frankly leaves me speechless and in awe of their humanity.

Posted in radiofreechip
One comment on “Tears For Charleston: Ruminations On Rage, Forgiveness And The Mythology Of Oppressed White Folk
  1. Michael Shore says:

    “Speechless and in awe.” Yes. I have never witnessed forgiveness on such a scale and it moved and humbled the living shit out of me. Right on, Chip, my beige Chico-worshipping (personally I’d lean more towards Harpo or Groucho) Jewish-ish brutha.

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