I probably watch way too much television. Also, I might consider working on the quality of the programming I watch as well. That said, I am somewhat addicted to shows like Nancy Grace, Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell, and even “To Catch a Predator” when it is on from time to time.
When a child is kidnapped, murdered, or sexually assaulted, those who call in to these shows are unanimously filled with rage.
When a young girl, especially if she is blonde and white, goes missing, as some might expect, there is a high degree of outrage.
On the other hand, when an African American child or teen is kidnapped, molested, or goes missing, the story gets much less coverage and there is a lesser degree of rage from the viewing community. Sure, members of the African American community who call in or who are interviewed are up in arms, justifiably so, but it usually ends there. Some missing and exploited children´s groups speak out but generally the white community shows much less interest or concern. Sometimes cases involving African American children get little or no television coverage at all.
To me, a kidnapped, murdered, sexually assaulted, or missing child or young adult is a tragedy – regardless of ethnicity or religion.
I question the faith of any person who shows rage for something tragic happening to one child, while not expressing equal rage for another. We are all God´s children. I can understand a higher degree of rage when the child is a relative or a neighbor but I cannot understand the absence of rage because of ethnicity.
I am equally passionate when rage is based on sexual orientation. Just because a victim is “gay”, I do not believe public rage should be of a lesser degree than when a “straight” person is a victim.
Recently there have been a string of “gay” suicides and there have been mixed comments on various websites. Some actually blame the gay person for contributing to his/her misfortune while there is a higher degree of rage when a “straight” person is assaulted or murdered. A gay victim´s ethnicity and religion also factor in at times.
When police are involved in a shootout or a high-speed chase and there is collateral damage, i.e. a bystander is killed or injured in the process, the public, for the most part, is outraged, but it sometimes depends on the neighborhood where the crime occurred. If the shootout occurs in a mostly Hispanic or African-American neighborhood it draws less interest and some people might say that those things just happen in “those” neighborhoods.
There are sometimes expressions of disbelief or shock when the same crime happens in a predominately affluent white neighborhood.
I listed the above scenarios to show that Christians frequently express selective outrage and that leaves me both curious, concerned, and disappointed in our believe system.
We all have prejudices – anyone that says they do not have a prejudiced bone in their body really needs to do a reality check or see a mental health professional.
Obviously, we cannot be outraged all the time with everything bad that happens because we would not have time for anything else – so we become selective. It is like we mentally rate each event on a scale from 1 to 10 based on a variety of factors – with 10 being assigned to the maximum rage down to 1 – for those events that result in little or no rage.
Sometimes the selectivity is triggered by gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, or even geographic proximity.
If a wife cheats on her husband, the public cannot believe how she could do something like that to him – she is quickly labeled as being unfaithful – maybe some might call her derogatory names. If a husband cheats on the wife, well, he is just being a man and if the wife is not happy, she should simply leave him and take the kids with her.
If a male teacher has sex with a female student, the public wants the teacher tarred and feathered and dragged out of town. When an “attractive” female teacher has sex with a male student, I personally have overheard some men say, “Where was she when I was in high school”.
Again, selective Christianity, selective outrage.
Now for my biggest gripe. Let´s revisit the subject of collateral damage.
It is expected, no, it is demanded, that police exercise extreme caution in not causing any undue pain or suffering toward anyone who is the vicinity of a crime while police are performing their duties.
Occasionally, some innocent parties are accidentally injured or killed by law enforcement professionals, however, it is expected that any “collateral damage” be kept to an absolute minimum.
If law enforcement exercises a reasonable amount of force for the given situation, then the public is more forgiving – more tolerant, but if they exhibit force that appears excessive for the situation at hand, the public will demand the officers be criminally charged and relatives of affected parties will frequently file lawsuits. In these cases, race, gender, and even sexual orientation of the collateral victims could also be a factor as to what level of outrage is displayed and by whom. Race and sexual orientation also factor in when compensation is determined.
All bets are off, though, when it comes to similar crimes that happen during war – especially when the locations are halfway around the world.
Collateral damage occurs in Afghanistan and Iraq almost on a daily basis. Numerous international news services report that collateral damage, in many cases, is excessive in relation to the number of intended targets.
The methods of targeting and seeking out the enemy have shifted from conventional ground assaults to unmanned aerial drone attacks. This conversion has happened to minimize the number of American and coalition casualties.
There have been numerous complaints of there being a total disregard for civilian life in Iraq and Afghanistan – especially as a result of aerial bombing, unmanned drone attacks, and conflicts involving U. S. military contractors such as Blackwater, now known as Xe. Laws put in place by the Coalition Provisional Authority protect the U. S. military and its contractors from being prosecuted for their actions in the line of duty.
American citizens hear little about collateral damage in Afghanistan and Iraq because the American media are complicit in minimizing news coverage.
There is more coverage about a college student missing from a campus in Iowa than thirty Afghan civilians killed in a drone attack. Again, this is simply Selective Christianity – Selective Outrage”.
The thirty Afghans were killed in a war zone and even though their deaths are unfortunate, an attitude of “all is fair in love and war” is allowed to permeate the air. These victims, simply referred to as collateral damage, are written off mostly because they dress differently, they are a different faith and ethnicity and are simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. The victims basically become out of sight and out of mind.
Why have we become so jaded – so insensitive to the plight of others?
Our soldiers, our drones, our bomber aircraft are fighting OUR battles. They are acting on our behalf just as though each and everyone one of us issued the orders for these acts of war to occur. We are funding these wars with our tax dollars and as a result we all have blood on our hands.
Every day in Afghanistan and Iraq parents grieve the loss of their children, children grieve the loss of a parent or relative or neighbor. We cannot comprehend this because these events would never be allowed to occur in our back yard, on our street, our subdivision, our town.
If both wars were stopped for a week and Americans were flown to both countries and driven through the villages to observe the death and destruction, to observe the absence of electricity and running water, to observe utter starvation, we all would come back sickened with what our government has approved and directed and what we continuously condone – directly or indirectly.
It has been said that this is a Holy war – our God against their God. Where do these ideas originate? How can we simply write off the death and destruction of nations?
We are all appalled and outraged with the Holocaust but why can we so easily turn a blind eye to the atrocities occurring on a daily basis in Afghanistan, Iraq and now in places like Pakistan and Yemen?
It is estimated that a staggering six million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust and that was a tragedy of epic proportions. Over the past decade hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans have been killed, millions have been injured or displaced and entire towns and villages have been decimated – but to many it seems like it simply does not matter.
We keep exact counts of U. S. and Coalition casualties, injuries, and those suffering mental health issues but no one seems to care enough to keep accurate counts of Iraqi and Afghan civilians.
Simple Internet searches can identify each and every 9-11 victim – by what plane they were on, what building they worked in or if they were American citizens or, if not, what country they were from. It appears that victims on that day matter, which they should, but how about the nine years of victims in Iraq and Afghanistan? Don´t they matter?
We are all God´s children – even though we might speak a different language, attend a different house of worship, wear different clothes, and eat different food.
Do you really believe this is what God intended when he created us and when he gave us the capacity to destroy each other, a mind to reason and a heart to love?