Lost in the hubbub was the notion that our young people need to take responsibility for their actions. They need to find ways to resolve conflicts that don't involve guns. The liberal establishment and representatives from the NAACP and the CBC did not spend much time talking about that. Nor did they dedicate themselves to lowering the age at which juveniles can be prosecuted for gun violence. No one talked about how these criminals need to go to jail. Nor was much attention paid to the conditions that undergrid the disintegration of the black family unit. Instead of putting the onus of responsibility on the criminals--and even their families-our so called leaders responded by blaming the gun manufacturers and invoking vaguely defined charges of racism. Just this week, a stray bullet killed 8-year-old Chelsea Cromaterie, while she was sitting in the living room of her DC home watching TV. A prominent local newspaper ran the headline: "Guns Blamed in Surge of Youth Deaths."
Why aren't our political and social leaders blaming the criminals pulling the trigger? Why do they so often respond to inner city violence by channeling our collective fears and anger on to vaguely defined sources of distress (i.e., the gun manufacturers)? I suppose part of the reason is that the minority populace is particularly receptive to this kind of paranoid politicking. For centuries minorities were kept out of the mainstream and treated as second caste citizens. Part of the hangover from that mistreatment is a skepticism and hostility among older minorities toward mainstream business and politics. This makes them ripe for conspiracy theories. By focusing the black public's fear and outrage upon vaguely defined enemies, usually referred to simply as "Republicans," or "Uncle Toms, " or "Jewish special interests," the old guard leaders are able to wield the black voting populace as a block-and thus keep themselves in power.
Even among our more moderate leaders, paranoid politics reveals itself as part of the search for authenticity, a way of legitimizing their rule by grounding themselves in the concerns of the black populace. For example, the liberal establishment, the NAACP and the CBC must have realized that no court in America would place the responsibility of gun violence on gun manufacturers, as opposed to the criminals actually pulling the triggers. Just as they knew that suing gun makers would do little to confront the real problem of gun violence. After all, there are already enough illegal guns floating around the city to supply criminals for decades. Why the lawsuit? It provided a perfect vehicle to proclaim to the black voting populace that they are in touch with the problems that plague black communities, and empower themselves by channeling the community's fears onto a vaguely defined threat.
Meanwhile, stray bullets continue to fly through the doors and windows of inner city homes. Until someone stands up and says, 'we have to be accountable,' little will change.
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