According to the Washington Post, last week 17-year-old Elijah Al-Amin of Peoria Arizona stopped by the Circle K convenience store on his way home from work, one of the two summer jobs he held. He had been listening to rap music in his car, according to 27-year-old Michael Adams, who is not a fan of the genre. Indeed, rap music makes him feel “unsafe.”
Adams feels this way because, according to him, he had been attacked “by people who listen to rap: specifically, blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans.” Adams did what many unreasonable people might do under the circumstances: he leaped out with his pocketknife at the ready, he slashed Al-Amin’s throat and then, for good measure, stabbed him in the back.
Al-Amin staggered out of the store and died by the gas pumps in front. Adams said he was being “proactive rather than reactive” and that his victim did nothing to provoke him. That’s quite an admission from a guy who had been released from prison two days earlier – without access to medication. You’d think he’d know better. You’d think he was nuts.
Let’s assume that’s true – that people who just walk up to a stranger because they don’t like the person’s race, origin, gender, age, clothing, taste in music, and/or taste in candy bars and then kill that person are insane. I’m willing to stipulate that. In fact, I’m willing to stipulate that all murders are acts of insanity. The folks who update the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders might disagree, but screw ‘em. If murder was normal, we’d all be doing it.
It’s a bullshit excuse. No matter what value systems you chose to respect, damn near all of them agree murder is not good. Murder is not acceptable.
I’m only a couple years from listing “septuagenarian” as my occupation, so I speak from experience that these times are much scarier than any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis. We’re all scared out of our minds about a whole lotta things, so I guess I am surprised we aren’t slaughtering each other like crackheads waiting in line for the bathroom at a soccer match.
To curtail this behavior, we must understand it.
We are more fearful these days because our leaders aggressively promote fear. We are told that “our” world is ending and there’s nothing we can do about it, that we have no future. “Those people” are out to kill us. All of them. No matter who “those people” may be. Today, they’re blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, rap music listeners, Muslims, Democrats, socialists, gun owners, conservatives, progressives, and people who eat Skittles. Yesterday, they were Germans, Irish, Italians, Jews, Catholics, Bolsheviks, eastern Europeans, and laborites. Tomorrow, they will be you… if it’s not you already.
We are told we must act preemptively. We must get them before they get us. We must save our children from a future where “those people” have any political power. We are told to get them and get them now, before it’s too late.
Two: Trouble Every Day
I bet there won’t be many / Live to see it really end / Cause a fire in the street / Ain’t like a fire in the heart / And in the eyes of all these people / Don’t you know that this could start / On any street in any town / In any state if any clown / Decides that now’s the time to fight / For some ideal he thinks is right
Stephen Stills wrote “For What It’s Worth” fifty-three years ago. Frank Zappa wrote “Trouble Every Day” a few months before that. I’d say they were prescient, but both musicians understood all too well what goes around comes around – and it comes around with ever increasing speed.
It is up to you, and only you, to decide what you should be afraid of.
It is up to you, and only you, to decide what you should do about that.