By Fr. George Welzbacher
April 22, 2012
As the violent desecration of an image of God, a uniquely transcendent image of God, the murder of anyone anywhere, for whatever pretext, is cause for profound distress. Whether it's the unborn child hacked into pieces in his mother's womb by depraved practitioners of what ought to have been the healing arts; or a senior citizen shot to death by vicious intruders in to the sanctuary of his own home; or the young mother beaten to death in front of her children by a jealous "boyfriend"; or the political prisoner tortured to death; or any other human being, anywhere at any time, whose right to life has been trampled underfoot, murder is murder; we must never allow ourselves to become inured to so great an evil. Human justice, flawed though it is, demands a serious effort to identify the murderer and to provide appropriate punishment, as well as to do whatever is feasible to aid the victim's family. But justice that is truly justice must be blind to partisanship, must be even-handed. Justice that is truly justice will not be skewed in the interests of politics, much less in the cause of inciting racial tension and hatred. Such skewing, it seems to me, is discernible in the orchestration of many of the nation-wide demonstrations of rage that followed hard upon the violent death of young Trayvon Martin, whose death, like that of any other young person killed on the threshold of adulthood, was for that very reason all the more to be deplored. But if it was the pursuit of justice pure and simple that inspired those nationwide rallies, WHY DO THE DAILY MURDERS NATION-WIDE OF YOUNG BLACKS KILLED BY OTHER BLACKS NOT PROMPT A COMPARABLE OUTRAGE? If the disinterested pursuit of justice was exclusively the motive for the donning of "hoodies" by protesters across the land, why does the recent murder (on Easter Monday) of a young white man (twenty-two years old) by three young blacks in North Minneapolis provoke no similar outcry?
Juan Williams, the African-American political commentator currently associated with Fox News, formerly with National Public Radio (NPR), recently submitted a thoughtful essay to the Wall Street Journal on this very question. May I share it with you here.
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The Wall Street Journal, March 28, 2012
The shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Florida has sparked national outrage, with civil rights leaders from San Francisco to Baltimore leading protests calling for a new investigation and the arrest of the shooter.
But what about all the OTHER young black murder victims? Nationally, nearly half of all murder victims are black. And the overwhelming majority of those black people are killed by other black people. Where is the march for THEM?
Where is the march against the drug dealers who prey on young black people? Where is the march against bad schools, with their 50% dropout rate for black teenaged boys? Those failed schools are certainly guilty of creating the shameful 40% unemployment rate for black teens.
How about marching against the cable television shows constantly offering minstrel-show images of black youth as rappers - and comedians who don't value education, WHO DISMISS [the essential central problem] THE IMPORTANCE OF MARRIAGE, and celebrate killing people, drug money and jail house fashion....
Supposedly all of this is just entertainment and intended to co-opt the stereotypes. But it only ends up perpetuating stereotypes in white minds and, worse, having young black people internalize it as an authentic image of a proud black person.
There is no fashion, no thug attitude that should be an invitation to murder. But these are real murderous forces surrounding the Martin death - and yet they never stir protests.
The race-baiters argue this case deserves SPECIAL attention because IT FITS THE MOLD OF WHITE-ON-BLACK VIOLENCE THAT FILLS THE HISTORY BOOKS. Some have drawn a comparison to the murder of Emmett Till, a black boy who was killed in 1955 by white racists for whistling at a white woman.
The Martin case is very different from the Emmett Till case, in which a white segregationist Mississippi society approved of the murder of a black child. Black America needs to get OUT OF THE RUT of replaying racial injustices OF THE PAST.
All minority parents fear that children who embrace "gangsta" fashion, tattoos and a thug attitude will be prejudged as a criminal.
Recall what Jesse Jackson once said: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage of my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery. Then look around and see somebody white AND FEEL RELIEVED... after all we have been through. Just to think we can't walk down our own streets, how humiliating." That is the unfair weight of being black in America for both the black person who feels the fear and the black teen who is judged as a criminal.
Despite stereotypes, the responsibility for the Florida shooting lies with the individual who pulled the trigger. ... The Department of Justice is investigating the incident and the governor of Florida has appointed a special prosecutor to review the case.
But on a larger scale, all of this should open a serious national conversation about how our culture made it easier for this type of crime to take place....
While civil rights leaders have raised their voices to speak out against this ONE tragedy, FEW IF ANY WILL DO THE SAME ABOUT THE LARGER tragedy of DAILY carnage that is BLACK -ON- BLACK crime in America.
The most recent comprehensive study on black-on-black crime from the Justice Department should have been a clarion call for THE BLACK COMMUNITY TO TAKE ACTION. There is no reason to believe that the trends it reported have decreased since 2005, the year for which the data was reported.
Almost one half of the nation's murder victims that year were between the ages of 17 and 29. Black people accounted for 13% of the total U.S. population in 2005. Yet they were the victims of 49% of all the nation's murders. And 93% of black murder victims were killed by other black people, according to the same report.
Less than half the black students graduate from high school. The education system's failure is often a jail sentence or even a death sentence. The Orlando Sentinel has reported that 17-year-old [Trayvon] Martin was recently suspended from his high school. According to the U.S. Department of Education's Civil Rights Office, in the 2006-07 school year, 22% of all black and Hispanic K-12 students were suspended at least once (as compared to 5% of whites).
This year 22% of blacks live below the poverty line and A SHOCKING 75% OF BLACK BABIES ARE BORN TO UNWED MOTHERS. The national unemployment rate for black people increased last month to over 13%, nearly five points above the average for all Americans.
The killing of any child is a tragedy. But where are the protests regarding the LARGER problems facing black America? [Emphasis added].
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Mr. Williams has said what needs to be said, but few are they who will say it. And may I append, as illustrating his point, the Star Tribune's account of the murder by three black street toughs of a twenty-two year old white man, engaged on an errand of mercy. I doubt that there will be many major rallies expressing indignation at his death. Such rallies would do little to advance the "correct" organization of society.
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Minneapolis Robbery Turns Deadly
Star Tribune, April 11, 2012
A food delivery to a neighbor three blocks away turned deadly for Jody Lynmarvin Patzner, Jr., 22, on Monday night when three boys confronted him as he biked on Fremont Avenue in North Minneapolis, according to family members and a witness.
The boys yelled at him that they wanted his bike, then shot at him twice, running away as Patzner continued to bike for 30 feet before collapsing on the sidewalk. He died moments later in the 3500 block of Fremont Avenue N. as neighbors along the street tried to help, according to a witness.
The robbery attempt took place just minutes after Patzner left his father's house with a plate of lasagna, headed for the home of a family friend who frequently gets food and help from the Patzners, said Tara Hesser, his stepmother.
"He was a really good kid," she said. "He loved music. He really loved NASCAR. He loved football." She said her stepson had made the three-bock run to their friend's house many times.
"He left at 8:30. At 8:34 there were gunshots," she said.
A Minneapolis police spokesperson said the case is under investigation and declined to make further comment.
A neighbor who said she witnessed the attack said the three assailants were walking on the east side of the street when they confronted Patzner, who was biking past.
"They was harassing him an stuff," said the woman, who asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation. "He didn't give them no feedback or nothing."
"They said 'Give me your bike ... give me your bike...' Pop! Pop!
The assailants ran off as Patzner biked on, passing the witness before collapsing.
"I said, 'Are you alright? Are you alright?' He said 'No, help me, help me,"' the woman said.
As several other neighbors rushed out of their houses, the witness stayed with Patzner, watching him die just before emergency vehicles arrived. He was pronounced dead at the scene, a second witness said.
Natasha Dennie, 35, was driving her taxicab in the area when she spotted Patzner on the sidewalk and got out to help.
"I was there to comfort him and do whatever I could," Dennie said.
She said two women were also there and called police. When Dennie went home, all she could think about was Patzner's face as he gasped for air.
"I couldn't get him out of my head," she said.
Patzner's stepmother said the family heard the gunshots and sirens but didn't think anything of it [such things being normal in these parts] until their friend called at 8:48 p.m., asking if Patzner was on his way.
Alarmed, Hesser and Patzner, Sr. ran to the site of the shooting but were held back by police, who told them to go home while investigators collected evidence. Two hours later, police confirmed the family's fears that their son had been shot.
"We're moving," Hesser said. "I'm getting out of Minneapolis. When you can't even leave one block from your own house, that's ridiculous."
Patzner Jr. was a 2008 graduate of Big Lake High School. He struggled to hold a full- time job because of his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, said his stepmother.
Jody Patzner Sr. said his son was a "roadie," helping lug instruments and gear for his father's band.
"He was a jack of all trades," he said of his son. "We did the landscaping for the guy next door. He and I painted this house, because we were the victims of the storm last year."
Patzner Sr. said he walked to the comer store Tuesday morning after a sleepless night and the store clerk there, accustomed to seeing Patzner Jr., asked him where his son was.
"He's dead," was all Patzner could say.
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