I have been trying to give as much of a fuck about Otto Warmbier as our elected officials do. If you follow any politician on Twitter of Facebook, it’s a veritable bukkake of “thoughts and prayers”. They are really sad that this young man is dead.
I kind of get it: Warmbier was prosecuted and convicted for the crime of theft and/or vandalism in North Korea, and he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor because of it. His early release was a surprise, as was his comatose state upon arrival back to the US. He is now dead, and we all have a bunch of questions about what the hell happened to him in prison? We can’t trust what North Korea says. They are known for lying to cover their tracks. Sometimes they just lie. It reminds me of when Sandra Bland died in lock-up under mysterious circumstances after essentially being arrested for not putting out her cigarette. The difference is that everyone demonized her, and admonished her for not doing what the officer said…even though she did. No outpouring of thoughts and prayers for her.
Of course, she has two strikes against her: she's a woman and black. Had Otto been in this country and black, it is a guarantee that people currently lamenting would be calling him a thug, saying that the punishment was harsh but he DID break the law, that he must have done something to get himself killed. Either that, or they'd say absolutely nothing, since they don't care. You know who else I didn’t hear any thoughts and prayers for? The children who are victims of or adjacent to the brutality.
While walking to her mosque for worship, Nabra Hassanen and her friends were attacked by a man in a car. Her friends fleed and got away, but she was not so lucky. She was beaten to death. It is possible that she was sexually assaulted. Her body was dumped by a lake. She was 17. Her impromptu memorial on Dupont Circle was set ablaze, supposedly by accident. On top of all this, the police are investigating the crime as a “road rage incident”. This was as much a road rage incident as Emmett Till’s death was a “tiff over a woman”. Why not just spit on her grave? There was never a time when I got cut off by an asshole in a Hummer that I had the urge to assault and beat the driver to death and then dump his body. This was a hate crime, no matter what the catalyst was. Whether it was because she was Muslim or because she was female, Nabra was beaten and killed because of a deep-seated hate in her murderer’s heart. Nabra was 17. She didn’t deserve anything that happened to her. I haven’t seen anyone in office deride the crime against her or the defacing of her memorial, save for the two Muslim ones.
Charleena Tyler, the woman in Seattle who was fatally shot by police answering her 911 robbery call, was pregnant. She was also known to have mental health issues. Per dashcam audio, the officers knew that. Seattle officers are required a choice of non-lethal weapon when they are on patrol: a baton, a taser, or pepper spray. The chose none. They decided that lethal force was the best choice. They killed her in front of her children. There’s audio and video to corroborate that. I realize that she was wielding two knives at the time, but she was also a tiny woman, and these were two large officers. WHy wouldn’t they have their non-lethal choices when one of them was familiar with Lyles and knew her potential? More importantly, she was killed in front of her children.
She. Was. Killed. In. Front. Of. Her. Children.
Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted of manslaughter for shooting unarmed Philando Castile. He gave Castile a dubious honor by inducting him into the Schrödinger's Negro Hall of Fame: He was murdered, but nobody murdered him. People don’t give a damn about that, though. They don’t give a damn that Yanez pulled him over based on mistaken identity. They don’t care that Castile explicitly stated that he had a gun in the glove box, and that he had a license for it. They don’t care that Yanez didn’t listen when Castile said he was NOT reaching for his gun, but his ID. They could care that there was a child in the back seat, a child who could have died had Yanez shifted his angle slightly. If you just listen to the original Facebook Live audio, or the newest damning dashcam audio, you can hear that little girl distraught and not knowing what is going on. It will haunt you. They could care that by all accounts, over 300 kids are going to miss a man who loved his job so much that he would go out of his way to put on work. I hear nothing from our esteemed “leaders” about that, though.
I could go on. The police who shot and killed Korryn Gaines didn’t give enough of a shit about the child she was holding that they shot him, too. When Betty Shelby was acquitted of shooting unarmed Terence Crutcher in the back using the brilliant and original “He was a big scary negro and I’m a tiny white woman” defense, I doubt that she cared about the children she left fatherless. She spent a lot of time claiming that she was the real victim, though.
You can give me the usual spiel about how these people who were killed in the US by government authorities did something wrong, or they had a record/history already, or they should have done what the officers told them to do. Beside the fact that most of them did, if you bring up any of those arguments, then you invalidate your sorrow and disgust over Otto Warmbier’s death. He actually deliberately broke the law, no matter how messed up the punishment was. So I know they have potential for empathy for unbalanced consequences for minor infractions (or no infractions). Yet, I haven’t heard a thing for all the people who were so distraught over Otto Warmbier’s death. I get that they don’t give a damn about black adults, but how about those children who watched their mothers die. For the people who claim to be “pro-life”, where is the uproar over the loss of Lyles’s unborn baby? I’ve not heard a word.
Every time I head to or from the airport, I see these two billboards that seem to have been made by the No Limit Records graphic designer. They're plastered with kids in traction, and it says trumpforchildren.com I the middle. The giant tag line says, “How much longer will children have to suffer!” All this time, I thought the exclamation instead of a question mark was the work of a moron who didn't spell check. It seems apparent that it's actually a joyous exclamation.