Martin Luther King must have wept on the night Darrent Williams was slain. It was not for this, an urban hell where murder is the leading cause of death among young black men, that the great hero of liberty and equality risked and sacrificed.
Who killed the popular Denver Broncos cornerback in a drive-by shooting on Jan. 1, we don’t yet know. But WHAT killed Williams is clear, and it was not merely a “gun culture,” as a Denver Post editorial suggested. It was the widespread lie that if you are not white in America, your choices matter less and your life is worth less. Dr. King saw the troubling evidence for this, but he gave his all to prove it false.
Gang culture, demanding respectability with bullets, flourishes in the poisonous atmosphere of that lie. Gangsters with their deadly ethos were probably in the chain of events leading up to Darrent Williams’ shooting. The murder vehicle was registered to Brian Hicks, an alleged cocaine dealer and witness-killer. The Million Dolla Scholas rap group, financed by Williams and stars of his fatal New Year’s Eve party at a downtown club, glorify wanton violence in their music.
The point isn’t whether Williams was part of some gang. By all accounts he was not. The point isn’t what color his assailants were. Possibly, like Darrent, they were African-American. But speculation is idle, since Denver police regard Mexican and Asian gangs as a more acute problem these days than the black ones.
Consider, instead, the moral bankruptcy implicit in our designating gangsters as just another “culture” in the first place. Criminality and bloodlust aren’t a culture, they are a pathology. Multiculturalism started benignly with diverse foods and fashions. But now, with its spineless tolerance for every group’s redefinition of right and wrong, multiculturalism invites social suicide. Too bad, we say, but that’s just the way “those people” are.
In regard to crime among minorities, the unspoken rule seems to be that as long as they are only victimizing each other, political and intellectual leaders will take minimal notice. Only when someone prominent is involved – a Darrent Williams, or Julius Hodge of the Denver Nuggets, wounded in a drive-by last year, or Denver policeman Donnie Young, murdered by a Mexican illegal alien in 2005 – does outrage flare up briefly.
The disappearance of little Aarone’ Thompson in a black area of downscale suburban Aurora made news for a while, but nothing like the murder of Jon-Benet Ramsey in trendy Boulder. Countless horrors perpetrated on people of color by each other pass with no general notice at all.
But does this mean it’s TRUE that your life is worth less and your choices matter less in America if you are not white? Absolutely not. Even though many of us, white and nonwhite alike, act as if that’s so, it is still a vicious lie before the law and in God’s sight.
The nation at all times needs godly men in the pulpit and courageous men in public life, men like Martin Luther King, to recall us to the timeless, unvarying standard of right and wrong by which killing, stealing, promiscuity, and lies are condemned – and responsibility, justice, and mercy are commanded.
But in the days since gunfire sprayed Darrent Williams’ limo, Baghdad fashion, what bold proposals against gangsterism have we heard from Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper or Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter or Colorado Attorney General John Suthers? What protest marches by clergy of all races have we seen against the moral sewers of those debauched nightclubs and lawless record companies? None.
Dr. King was a reverend before he was a reformer. The two callings were inseparable for him. His supposed heirs today, Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton, are but cheap political hucksters – not prophetic spiritual voices. Yet there are such voices. One is Bishop Harry Jackson from Maryland, advocate of a “Black Contract with America on Moral Values.” With every drive-by shooting, something like that contract becomes more urgently needed.