The toll was gruesome. Over 100 people shot, 15 fatally. Bloody streets, shattered bones, severed limbs, ruined lives and devaststed families. Baghdad? No. Kabul? No. Mogadishu? No. Paris? No. Al Qaida? No. ISIS? No. Al Shabab? No. Boko Haram? No.
This was the July 4th weekend toll of shootings in Chicago, Illinois. Half of these shooting occurred during the last 12 hours of the weekend, almost fittingly on the Fourth of July. Fittingly, because as H. Rap Brown (now known as Imam Jamil el-Amin) once said, “Violence is as American as cherry pie.” We are a nation conceived in violence, yet many of us refuse to recognize it, especially those who benefit the most from it.
We were conceived in the genocidal violence unleashed against the native people of this land and when the remnants of the 500 vanished tribes try to hold on the dwindling slivers of their land, air or water we mock them with macabre cynicism as we send in the bulldozers and excavators.
We were nurtured on the dehumanizing violence of slavery and its bastard child, Jim Crow, and then wonder why those who have been epigenetically scarred by the trauma of auctioned fathers, raped mothers, lynched uncles and broken families cannot totally escape the quicksand of police dragnets, redlined and then gentrified neighborhoods, systematically underfunded schools, and looted public treasuries.
We perpetuate our economy, in part, on 100 billion dollar weapon sales and Satanic alliances, not caring the least about the hapless Muslim civilians, the overwhelming majority of those who are on the receiving end of the cruise missiles, smart and dumb bombs, bunker busters, cluster bomblets or the other instruments of death, which we peddle with the wanton impunity we peddle guns to alienated youth in our inner cities or the zombied killers who visit our college campuses or suburban schools far too often than we would care to admit.
We justify much of the violence in the name of security. Surely, security will be invoked when the politicians discuss deploying the National Guard or military reservists to Chiraq, the street name for Chicago’s most violent neighborhoods. However, just as an armed response has done little to mitigate the rise of terrorist groups overseas, the Army responding to the violence plaguing many of our urban communities will be of little lasting effect.
We will only begin to escape these escalating cycles of violence, domestic and foreign, when we acknowledge that no child, regardless the circumstances of his birth, comes into the world with a gun in his hand hellbent on taking the life of his fellow humans. It is only when we place as much emphasis on ensuring that we are a nurturing society that equally values the lives of all of its members that we will be able to begin to move beyond the kind of violence so painfully on display in Chicago this last week.