It’s not a political issue

emmett-till2

I saw this and right away thought, damn, one more reason to defeat Trump. The sign — in case it’s hard to read or you haven’t already seen the story that goes with it — marks the spot where Emmett Till’s body was found nearly sixty years ago.

After thinking about it for a few minutes, I changed my mind. Not that defeating Trump isn’t a good idea, not that defacing the sign isn’t a symptom of deep and abiding trouble in our society, but that Trump’s loss will not help solve the underlying problems.

Prejudice, suspicion, mistrust, untethered animosity and hatred are not changed by an election, or by lectures, or by laws. They are deep-seated and enduring, and while some of them, some of the time, in some situations may be amenable to education or to argument, most of them are not.

Change will not come in years or in decades. It will come in generations.

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4 thoughts on “It’s not a political issue

  1. Knowing the Emmett Till story well, I was drawn like a magnet to your post and photo. It’s true that there are racial impulses and interpretations of the bullet holes in his sign but I see the holes as an attack on the boy himself. He was a proud person, self confident, authentic and noble. I never thought to check on his race because I know some exact replicas of him in all shades. Emmet was so evolved that he must have driven those fellas mad. In their reality Emmett was as irritating as a mosquito. So in a perfect way the swats taken at his sign are measures of Emmett’s power to rouse. What a great monument though, to a great kid. It’s found art…

  2. Phil, I realize I’m deviating from your founding point but I do want to take the opportunity of your post to put it out there that Emmett Till might be more than a racial demographic. He was a personality. I speak for all cases where mysteries like his are found.

    His killer stated in an interview that his original intention was to whip Emmett around a bit to teach him a lesson. These people had driven out in the middle of the night to where Emmett was staying with his cousins and hauled him out of bed. On the way out, Emmett said something to the effect that he had to go back to get his socks. As he did so, Mr JW Milam had to wait. I submit that this “impertinence” was Emmett’s capital crime.

    There are Milam-esque people in this world who will not stand for another’s right to preference or standards, especially when they are reminded of it in the middle of the night in a showdown… I mean just who saw the other coming?

    Whether it’s just the way things are, or not, it’s horrible. Worse, we find this kind of antipathy in places where we least expect it: Politicians who can’t take reasoned arguments; doctors who are so arrogant they would rather kill their patients than allow the patient to disagree with a diagnosis and escape a hospital; ombudspeople who (although hired to help) are unable to entertain a complainant/victim’s specific situation; police who stick to a line regardless of the unique circumstance being reported to them etc.

    Emmett would have become a wonderful man. Although, according to Milam, Emmett was apparently already a man in the true sense of the word. Something about insisting on socks had made it a level playing field.

    1. Thank you. Your comment is a post of its own. I’ll stop back later today — when I have more time — and add a bit more.

      [EDIT] Sorry for the delay. Maybe I’m inadvertently on the edge of a big story. I’ve been trying to log into the Veterans’ Administration web site to check medical appointments — and the VA server has been inaccessible all day. (Seriously doubt that my prescriptions will have any serious impact on the election, but then… who knows?)

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