Friday, October 26, 2007

Progress? What Progress?

Can someone please explain to me how these two things are different?

I read two stories yesterday, one from the San Francisco Chronicle (and in this link, covered by Yahoo!News), concerns a teacher kidnapped and murdered in Iraq by Shiite Muslims because he was Sunni Muslim. The other, from Newsweek, is about a case in Los Angeles in which Latino gang members stand accused of targeting not only African-American gang members but any random African-American in what looks very much like homegrown racial cleansing.

I don't see any difference at all here, other than the fact that in one case the targeted characteristic was religion and in the other the targets were chosen because of their skin color. It is just unacceptable that in the 21st century people would even think about acting in such a...oh, I hate to use the word, but it is the only one I can think of...tribal manner, being willing to kill members of another group just because they look different or because they believe differently. Religion against religion, ethnic group versus ethnic goes on and on.

It is especially interesting to me that, in the case of the L.A. gangs, the point is made that this sort of "brown-on-black" crime, as they characterize it, is still considered an "anomaly", but two paragraphs later the writer reports that the most recent case is the third such case in the past two years.

In the case of the Iraq killing, the linked article makes the point that these sort of sectarian killings are becoming less common. Well, that might be true, but the article also points out that the killing of this teacher is "unremarkable" among all the violence Iraqis see on a daily basis.

Which is another place where the commonalities between the two cases come in. Living as I do in an area where gang activity is not uncommon, it frightens me sometimes that it seems like every time there is a gang-related shooting or killing, the general attitude seems to be, well, it's just the gangs. What can you expect. That sort of violence, whether aimed at other gangs of the same ethnic background, at gangs members of a different ethnic background, or at random victims, just seems to have become an accepted part of 21st century American life. Just as it seems to be expected...and accepted as a reality...that individuals can be targeted because of their religious beliefs in the Middle East.

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