Let Them Fucking Die

[IMAGE DESCRIPTION: House of Representatives Majority Whip Steve Scalise is seen from the shoulders up, looking to the right, an American flag in the background.]

From Fusion:

“Steve Scalise, the House Majority Whip who was shot by a gunman who attacked a congressional baseball practice on Wednesday, has kept company with racists. He was forced to apologize for speaking at an international conference of white supremacists, and reportedly referred to himself as ‘David Duke without the baggage.’ Following Scalise’s shooting, Duke praised him for ‘defending white civil rights.’

Scalise has also been described as one of the most anti-LGBTQ politicians in Washington. He’s voted against LBGTQ rights over and over again. He also authored Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriage. Like many of his ilk, he said he was only trying to protect ‘traditional’ marriage.

So it is a point of especially delicious irony that Scalise, who survived the attack (and is reportedly in critical condition), may owe his life to a queer black woman.

Crystal Griner, a Capitol Police officer, was one of two special agents on Scalise’s security detail yesterday who helped take down shooter John Hodgkinson. People at the scene said that the two officers prevented an all-out ‘massacre’ on the field that day, engaging in a firefight with Hodgkinson before killing him.”

[NOTE: This essay is in the context of bigotry and is speaking about bigots. If you aren’t a bigot, then it doesn’t apply to you. But, if you happen to feel hit, then holler, dog.]

“Insofar as you think you’re white, you’re irrelevant. We can no longer afford that particular romance.” — James Baldwin
“Everybody wants to check Black apathy, but no one checks white supremacy.”— LaSha, Kinfolk Kollective

What irks me about this story is what it symbolizes.

Officer Griner was simply going above and beyond in her job, specifically; saving lives as she imagines it is her job to do. My complaint is not with her.

It is with us.

I want to ponder the ramifications of what this story means in a broader, more general sense.

I want to implicate us.

What does it mean, in general, when victims of bigotry save the lives of bigots?

For centuries, black people have been regarded as sub-human workhorses whose entire purpose is to serve white people’s whimsies.

For centuries, queer people have been regarded as sub-human degenerates whose whole existence was an anathema to cisgender heterosexual people’s off-hand sensibilities.

And what our — black/queer people — response to that has been, largely, is to attempt to be a more moral species of being than those who dehumanize us.

We, some of us, get a kind of glee out of presenting ourselves as respectable and upright, willing to get past their hatred of us to save them from themselves. We think being the kind of thing that would sacrifice our lives for the very people who would reflexively slit our throats to create a fountain from which to drink our blood is noble.

What the fuck is wrong with us?

They, these white/cisgender/heterosexuals, have created entire systems, philosophies, and values in which goodness, peace, and benevolence are virtues — but only, always, in other people. In themselves, though, it is only ever pretense. They subvert, undermine, corrupt, and desecrate the virtues they extol by matter of course, by the very nature of what they are, never had any intention, actually, of living up to them, putting themselves at a distinct strategical advantage over us who hold onto these constructions as though we made them ourselves.

In a battle between the moral and the immoral, the immoral will always win because they have no qualms about not abiding by the rules. Whereas those of us who imagine ourselves as moral gladly die at the immorals’ hands because we think better glories await us in some other, unseen realm. We, the moral, are terrible at memory. We never remember who created these rules and for what purpose. The immoral created morality so that we would accept their abuse and never even dream of retaliation. Like any drug white/cisgender/ heterosexual people have ever given us, we get high on this notion that forgiving them after they slaughter our grandparents in churches, obliterate our siblings in the streets, and mangle our children in playgrounds makes us better people than they.

We imagine, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that by becoming a shining example of this “righteous” behavior, we might, somehow, guide these cannibals into becoming upright beings capable of following the very rules they enforce upon us.

We are wrong.

The merciful have no sway over the merciless.

Give their constructions back to them.

Turn your compassion inward.

Some of us are old enough to remember an episode of The Jeffersons in which George Jefferson accidentally attends a Ku Klux Klan meeting and winds up saving the life of the Grand Wizard. When the Wizard discovers this, he tells his son, “You should have let me die.”

I was 9 years old when I first saw that episode and was struck by the man’s callousness. I never felt pity for him. I felt anger toward him and toward Mr. Jefferson for ridiculously believing he had “went high when they went low,” committed some wondrous act of grace as all the white liberals around him, patting him on the back, tell him.

But life in this country has taught me that there is nothing graceful — or intelligent — about letting bigots live another day to spread horror, pain, terror, and tyranny; to give them the chance to live freely, as a result of your own life-saving actions, to once again plot your own death; and plot it slowly, ever so slowly, and quietly so that it will never again be as obvious as a King Leopold II, an Anita Bryant, or a Pastor James David Manning; so that it would appear consistent with law and scripture— and, forgetful as we are, we neglect to remember that law and scripture are, too, their inventions.

I may not be suggesting that we go out and start a war that we are certain to lose if only because the bigots have all the armaments, all the firepower, all the militaries, all the institutions; and their hearts are afire with the pure hatred that energizes them, seemingly infinitely; and they outnumber us in every corner of the known world.

What I am suggesting will rile us because it operates contrary to our centuries of brainwashing, rejects the religious instruction our oppressors gave us, negates the mounds of propaganda that imagines our oppressors as deserving of our humanity in the face of their lack of such. What I propose will certainly have most white/cisgender/heterosexuals who practice bigotry (or do not believe they practice bigotry even when they do) up in their outrageous feelings because they have become accustomed to our worship, rely on our fealty, and receive sustenance from our sacrifice. They want us as Django Unchained’s Stephen, infinitely and perpetually servile, or as the punchline to their malicious humor, laughing along with them.

Our indifference to their well-being is the only thing that terrifies them.

So:

If you see them drowning.

If you see them in a burning building.

If they are teetering on the edge of a cliff.

If their ships are sinking.

If their planes are crashing.

If their cars are skidding.

If they are overdosing.

If their hearts have tellingly arrested.

If they are choking in a restaurant.

If they are bleeding out in an emergency room.

If the ground is crumbling beneath them.

If they are in a park and they turn their weapons on each other:

Do nothing.

“If you seen them walking down the street and they start to cry, each time you meet, walk on by.”

Least of all put your life on the line for theirs, and do not dare think doing so, putting your life on the line for theirs, gives you reason or cause to feel celestial.

Saving the life of those that would kill you is the opposite of virtuous.

Let. Them. Fucking. Die.

And smile a bit when you do.

For you have done the universe a great service.

Ashes to ashes.

Dust to bigots.