As kids we used to go hunting for snakes in the woods by turning over rotten logs; there were always a lot of bugs under them, and sometimes a snake or two. When garter snakes slithered out we’d grab them by the tail and put them in a pail.
Don Imus liked to push over old logs to uncover slithering snakes until he was stung by a big, poisonous, double-headed rattler that slithered over the airways hissing racism and sexism aimed at a women’s college basketball team.
There seems to be an insatiable, voracious human appetite for prejudices of all kinds, and the Imus-brand of shock radio knows how to feed it.
I’m not sorry Imus got stung. He deserved it, so he’s off the air, for now. He’ll be back, but the scars from this wound will be visible. But I don’t relish the real reason he got the axe. There are lots of good things about capitalism, but this sorry story was not one of them. When the big-money sponsors pulled out, Don was done. The bottom line is money in spite of all the holier-than-thou hypocrisy we hear coming from all sides.
Many thoughtful people have spent entire careers trying to understand the nature of prejudice and hatred, turning over the logs under which racism rests, and the big boulders under which sexism, homophobia and anti-Semitism sit, waiting to slither out, hiss, strike and inject their deadly poison.
On the heals of this sad, non-lethal event, Cho Seung-Hui went on a murderous rampage at Virginia Tech. First he went to the store, bought a gun with lots of ammunition, and then wreaked havoc in Blacksburg before ending his own terribly twisted, unhappy, disturbed life.
The tragedy is too overwhelming for words, no matter how heartfelt or carefully crafted those words might be. There are so many complicated issues at work in this insane act of cruelty.
Now we need some respectful silence. Then we need to get back to work on the creation of a saner gun-control policy worthy of the civilized society we hope that we may someday become.
We need to push over some old logs and dig into the collective psyche to try to understand what made Cho tick, and what makes us tick. We need to see all the separate strands that are woven into the ‘the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.’
We’re not merely the product of some distant god’s creativity — we’re involved in creation. This is the eighth day and God’s work must be our own. We’re weaving the web as we continue to evolve, individually and collectively, designing the fabric into which we’re woven. We have a responsibility to contribute to the creation of a better, safer, saner world. This isn’t dress rehearsal – this is it!
A sincere sense of humility is also necessary — we need to acknowledge our human limits; we’re not gods. Then, reverently, we can look more soberly at Cho’s eruption of violence in Blacksburg, the savagery in Iraq with Baghdad bombings daily, and the less-publicized day-to-day almost hidden handgun violence in our country. Keep hope alive.