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The following Featured Post comes from Relationship Group 5, Thread 11.

1. Why do we accept the Violence?
Sat, Sep 18, 1999 - 6:01 PM/EST

Eight more people have lost their lives to gun violence in a very public and tragic manner that is becoming all to familiar to us here in America.

Over the fourth of July weekend, Benjamin Smith took his hate on the road with a gun and shot or killed Jewish people and people of color. As I lived in Bloomington, Indiana, where his last victim was killed, and had written letters against Smith's racist preaching, the violence we tolerate in this country came home to me. My white husband and I could have been targets if we were in his path for no other reason than my skin color (my white husband would have been no safer for daring to be by my side...holding my hand as we often do).

As I look around at other countries in the West, including my husband's country (UK), I have to ask why we accept this violence? Sure we bemoan the tragedies like the Columbine, Woodbridge, Day trader and JCC killings, but for some reason we allow our leaders to get away with not doing anything to stop the violence. Why should they do anything when we won't? Putting a Black or brown face to violence, as was done with success in the 80's (1880's on up really) just doesn't work anymore as the victims and triggermen become lighter and lighter. The boogie man isn't the darker other, but the white self too. So, why do we accept the violence in our society when others do not?

2. Speak Out - Get Involved
Sat, Sep 18, 1999 - 9:50 PM/EST

After the initial shock wore off me that my quality of life would be reduced to 0 and I would go blind (ironic isn't it that I will truly not be able to see color), my brother-in-laws wife came to visit from AZ for a seminar. She is a very strong, proud Mexican woman. We showed her around Chgo and wanted to portray a good side. We drove through the different ethnic neighborhoods, China town, little Italy, Vietnamese, Jewish, Mexican, all able to celebrate their cultures. Downtown they all mixed together nicely. We arrived back at her hotel and they had on the news how a young black boy had been beaten almost to his last breath just because he was riding his bike through a white neighborhood. We watched in horror.

Before this I had been thinking what do I want to do with my life before I can't do it anymore. The next day I signed up with the Commission on Human Relations as a volunteer. I wanted specifically to volunteer because I wanted it to show how important it is to me, not just a job.

Incidents like these, as well as the killings, are deplorable to me and they get media attention, but these offenders usually only get a slap on the hand. A woman was recently killed by a cop because after she was stopped she got out of the car and dropped her cellphone. The cop thought it was a gun and shot her. She layed there 12 minutes bleeding and died before paramedics came, although the station was only 1 block away. The cop was originally given a 10 day suspension, until the uproar from family/activists. Suspension?!?!! Another cop was given a 30 day suspension just for drinking on the job. Is this all that woman's life was worth? Less than a drinking violation?

We need to have more people in government and authority who are truly supportive of human rights/equality and are willing to fight. Deep down I feel President Clinton has been ostrasized and targeted so because he is the first president since Kennedy to bring up the issue of race relations.

3. Violence and a few commnts to Historian
Sat, Sep 18, 1999 - 11:33 PM/EST

I hear you Historian. According to the Turner's Diaries, which is the book that many White supremist groups adhere to, me and my children should be the first to go. But don't kid yourself that our country is the only one with racial violence...remember Bosnia? And that is an all out war. And world violence is there too, do you see what is happening in many African countries, where color is not the issue but religion or tribal. In our country it is individuals and not entire armies like in other countries! I am not saying that we aren't a violent society, but look globally!!! Why didn't our government intervene in Africa, but did in Bosnia? Was it a race issue? The UK is a racist country as well and has it's violent moments, of course their citizens can't have guns, but they do get them. Our country has it's problems, but so do others and the violence all over should be not be tolerated!

4. violence is profitable
Sun, Sep 19, 1999 - 1:26 AM/EST

historian -

I recently was in a local supermarket and noticed at the check out counter large machine-gun looking water guns that looked extremely real. The amount of money that is made by the military industrial complex in the USA (and elsewhere) turns huge profits. We don't want (or, I should say -- they don't want) a true end to violence. If violence is wrong one-on-one maybe it is also wrong between countries -- and if that is true, what happens to the big $$$contracts that swell from the manufacture of military supplies? As long as there is this dichotomy -- the idea that violence is wrong on the small scale but OK on the large -- I think we have a problem.

In a more simple statement -- "Might does not make right" -- no matter what. People have got to learn to talk out their differences. But as long as guns and the military are making BIG money -- there really isn't that much to say...

5. Are we really that powerless?
Sun, Sep 19, 1999 - 6:22 AM/EST

I'd be the first to admit that violence is global. However, isn't there something particularly, I don't know, American about the kinds of violence in our society? It was considered totally out of character for a lone gunman in Scotland to kill those children in a nursery school. The parliment instantly moved to ban all guns (even gun collector's guns) in the UK.

Our Constitution is a great instrument, but it has shaped a society that relies too much on individual rights rather than a regard for the whole community. Attitudes like: I have a right to buy a semi-automatic contradicts the wider societial need for less devastating gun violence.

The framers did not intend the rights everyone enjoy today to go to everyone...just the responsible few (white, propertied gentlemen) who would "control" the impulses of the masses. Universal suffrage did not bring a release from the control of a few. Today the masses seem to be controlled by an oligarchy that does not necessary include our highest elected officials. However we should continue to send a clear message that the kinds of violence that is almost second nature to our society is UNACCEPTABLE. The only real public power(beside protest and volunteerism) we have is our vote and we throw it away many times because we allow the questions to be manipulated. For example: Universal Health Care.

The majority of Americans thought Health care for all was a good idea back in 92 until interest groups framed the question differently: Do you want to loose the ability to chose your own doctor? Being Americans, shaped by our rugged individualist myth, many said no who formerly said yes. I see the gun and violence question going that way also.

Ultimately, most Americans can't help being selfish, but how long can we afford to be selfish when violence is taking out the "flower" of America youth? How much longer can we give our power over to men who take it and sell it to the highest bidder?

6. To Historian
Sun, Sep 19, 1999 - 8:49 AM/EST

I agree with you. Moreover, when the Constitution was written we didn't have high powered handguns and AK-47s. The ARA can't convince me that sport hunters use these types of weapons; unfortunately, it's all about money and the financial support from these groups when it comes to the government. Individuals need to speak out louder against this. We need to make it appear that it is out of our character also for hateful crimes to be committed. Several months ago my husband & I took a walk at a nearby park/wildlife refuge.

We came upon a large area on the walkway filled with KKK and other Arian signs with horrible slurs written about how the time has come for all the "niggers and spiks" to die. We were outraged and called the police. The next morning I went back to see if anything had been done, and there was fresh pavement already covering it.

I was impressed that the paper even printed the police report. I wrote a letter to the editor of the local paper and instead of blasting the "hate crime," I complimented the police and village for their actions. I stated I grew up in this neighborhood and know of past racial conflicts. I quoted our mayor by saying "I speak for all residents of our town" (but added) that we will not tolerate hate crimes, that we are not an ignorant, backward, and closed minded community but a progressive one that embraces diversity and racial tolerance. I did this in the hopes that people might wake up here and see how wrong it is. I never saw a rebuttal or any further graffiti as of yet, but we do "patrol" our neighborhood for any further signs.

7. To Maytime
Mon, Sep 20, 1999 - 8:04 PM/EST

A great demonstration of volunteerism...acting to bring about change, positive change.

An elderly lady, who was the laundress of Alice Roosevelt Longworth (TR's daughter), was blungeoned to death in her home over the weekend. Miss Clara was a woman I respected and was fond of. Her death has grieved all who knew her including the granddaughter and great granddaughter of Miss Clara's former employer.
Too often violence reaches out to touch people you think are above such tragedy. We don't have to look to the JFK Jrs. of the strike all too often close to home.

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