Justice is Sentient
Nothing exists of itself, alone; not in art, not in politics, not in economics, not in science, not in love, not in law, not in hate, not in violence, not in Justice.
In the world of hate events never simmer or boil over alone. Eruptions come fast upon one another, viral feeding. We’d feel that syncopatiing were the eyes of our days wide enough, had we more time to see.
— In the month prior to the 1963 Klan murders of four Black girls in that Birmingham church basement, well over fifty violent assaults/murders of Black people occurred in that city.
— In the year before the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, hundreds of smaller acts of right-wing terror were recorded at FBI bureaus throughout the Southwest.
— In 1998, at Laramie, young Matthew Shepard was murdered because he was gay. He became the face of a generation of activist effort in a way not dissimilar to how the murdered teen, Emmet Till, in Mississippi, became the face of the nascent modern civil rights movement in the mid 1950s. Mr. Till was targeted for having whistled at a white woman.
— Some years back Vatican Bishop Giacomo Babini told a Church web site that Jews created the pedophilia scandal. While many in high places mouth the lunacy of bigots, only a truly tendentiously vicious web site or institution regards them as worthy of world-wide, uncritical dissemination. Among Father Babini’s remarks were these:
. Jews are “the eternal enemies” of the Church.
. Criticism of the Church child-rape scandal has been “Jewish, exclusively, persistently”.
. The Holocaust, in which two million children died, was “provoked by Jews’ consistent crimes”.
Had a higher-up in the Vatican condemned the remarks, it would hardly be worth recalling, yet no one in authority at Rome has spoken of it publicly.
At roughly the same time, in Hungary, the extreme right-wing, openly anti-Semitic party, Jobbik, won just under a fifth of the votes in parliamentary elections. (Jobbik routinely refers to the nation’s capital as Jewdapest.) This would not have surprised people who know that nation’s modern history, as Hungary has a sad place in Holocaust-memory as a nation that began mass-murder in anticipation of a Nazi takeover. Hungary learned what the S.S. mobile gassing units were doing in Germany; as a good-will gesture the Hungarian state aped the murders thousands of times over in the absence of any hint or suggestion from Berlin, and well before the S.S. arrived.
It’s our continual mandate to repair, to re-create culture in ways that sideline hate through just laws and just acts. A reason I am foursquare behind, for example, marriage equality, is that when Law consistently tells a culture all its adult citizens are equal, over time, if slowly, people behave more and more as if it’s so. That, to an extent, is the South’s story since school desegregation.
Whether its victims are racially-, religiously-, or gender-based, or simply six-year-olds, for those whose constant, free-floating animus finally finds a too-easy target, Hate is always connected. Regardless of its specific iteration in time,
Hate confers upon itself a multiplying legitimacy. The unbalanced everywhere take a strange and horrific comfort in incipient and overt hateful acts no matter how seemingly unrelated or distant. Hate creates its own Zeitgeist; it’s never lonely.
Acts of Justice, small and large, do as well.
Justice is sentient. It is passionate and active when we choose to make it so; it precedes us and outlives us and instances of it, all just acts, always connect over time and space and powerfully militate toward greater Justice beyond ourselves in our time and in our place, willing it to those we love and to those we’ll never know, now, and after we are gone.
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