From the WSJ:
The death of Christopher Lane, while as troubling as that of Trayvon Martin, will not become a national touchstone of racial and cultural debate or reflection.
But maybe it should…
There won’t be any debate over “stand your ground” laws or self-defense in this case because Lane had no chance to defend himself. There is no evidence so far of a racial motive. Lane seems to have been shot simply because he was there…
Some are focusing on the ease of obtaining a gun in the U.S., as (inevitably) is the reflexive CNN, and it would almost be a relief if we could blame such a murder on guns.
Then we wouldn’t have to focus on a culture that produces teenagers for whom the prospect of shooting an innocent man in the back on a Friday evening apparently raised not a scintilla of conscience. That is the deeper tragedy, and the real scandal, of too much of American life.
That is also an issue of far greater consequence to the future of young black men than the acquittal of George Zimmerman in his awful showdown with Trayvon. If only Mr. Sharpton and his fellow black leaders paid attention to what was missing in the lives of those three teenagers. Maybe President Obama would even care to use it as one of his teachable moments.
One person who is using it as a teachable moment is James Johnson, the father of another boy who was threatened by the trio. It was Johnson who made the call to police that led to the arrest of the three.
Yesterday I called Johnson a hero for several reasons. Today we have a videotape (hat tip: “carl in atlanta“) in which he states he thinks the Chris Lane killing (and several further killings that he says were planned by the group) was a gang initiation. Johnson (who knows the three suspects well) also cites lack of fathering as a factor:
Wish we could clone this guy.
Also, Duncan Oklahoma is a VERY white town…the town is only 1% African-American and over 90% white. I have little doubt that the three suspects knew many black people in town, of course. But a randomly selected victim would almost certainly have been white.
I’m assuming that all three suspects lived in Duncan. Do the math: Duncan has a population of about 22,500. If about 1% are African-American, as stated in the link, that would be about 225 people. So this would be a very small group in which many would almost certainly be known to the others.
Again, I want to caution that these facts do not mean the motives weren’t racial. They may very well have been; we just don’t know.
What we do know is that Obama not only has declined to use the Lane murder as that sort of “teachable moment,” but that his only comments on the matter so far have been the following:
This sounds like a pretty tragic case,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest replied when told about the murder of Christopher Lane. Earnest said that he hadn’t heard about the murder previously…
Earnest said that Obama’s comments after the Trayvon Martin case apply here. “[T]he president I think himself has spoken pretty eloquently about violence,” Earnest said when asked why Obama commented on the killing of Martin but not of Lane. “He expressed his concern about the impact of violence in communities across the country,” he added, referring to Obama’s comments after the Martin case.
Obama’s comments after the Martin case? First there were some off-the-cuff remarks about how Obama identified with Trayvon Martin. Then he gave a speech after the not guilty verdict was rendered, the text of which is here. In it, the president focused mainly on airing African-American grievances about profiling (including reminiscences about his own experience in that regard), empathizing with the grief of the African-American community without mentioning anything about Zimmerman or his family, asserting the need to have still another “conversation” about race, fighting against stand your ground laws (which had nothing to do with the case), ascribing African-American violence and poverty to “a very difficult history” (i.e. slavery and discrimination), and calling for a federal program to give young young African American men “the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them.”
Extrapolating from those previous remarks, it’s difficult not to conclude that in the Lane case Obama identifies more with the accused killers and their families than the victim of their attack (whom he has not mentioned), that he would like to work in some further gun restrictions if he could (which probably would have little or no relevance to the facts of the case), that he thinks the killers were angry about profiling, that their violence was motivated by that same “difficult history,” and that they need to know we care. Not a word about the actual influences that seem to have come into play here: gangs, father absence and the breakdown of the family in general, and a popular culture that glorifies and extols senseless and nihilistic violence as a way to prove that one has the requisite toughness to enter manhood.