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Burnt Offerings

America is burning. It isn’t the first time and won’t be the last. This particular burn comes at an unfortunately opportune time given what preceded it. As a people, we’re drawn to the flame. It’s what our predecessors gathered around to tell stories and what we keep in the window when a loved one goes missing. And, on occasion, we like to let it run its course as a kind of reset, which was the path we were on anyway with this virus.

As to the cause of this specific burn, I’m unqualified to comment. There was a spectacularly stupid and egregious act committed .. but hey, this is America. They would have fit “egregiously stupid” in the national anthem had “rockets red glare” not taken up so much space. As a white guy, I’m being instructed to shut up and listen, which seems appropriate. Somebody might have added something about keeping an extinguisher at the ready, but that’s OK. Had I identified someone who looked much like me as the victim at the center of this and other similarly offensive acts, I wouldn’t be happy either. Ironically, many of those asserting that white people need to shut up and listen are white people themselves. Some of these same white people are feeding and even instigating the current burn. And while I’m quite certain that the “racist” brand fits me as well as anybody, most of my objections these days are centered around other white people. So, you know, fuck ’em.

If the above seems unapologetically cynical, it is. Human beings policing other human beings is an inherently flawed yet seemingly necessary concept. I have mixed feelings about cops myself and, were I black, I suspect that mix would be all the more tumultuous. There’s nothing I value more than being left alone and on that front and many others, I’m lucky to have been born white. There is a multitude of ugly shit in this world; violence, betrayal, crime, the breaking down of cells as we age. Richard Pryor had a bit on why he stopped using the most volatile of all American racial epithets in his act. He said something like “being human is hard enough without ‘nig**r’” I thought that was a decent sentiment.

We’ll get past this, but it will come back around again. I wish this wasn’t so, but it is. All systems fail and ours is a relatively young one. I’m far more comfortable in defending it against other systems or in singing our flawed praises. Hopefully, there will still be time to get back to that.

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