My apologies, but there can be no Saturday Surprise today. In light of the terrible Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday, then the tragic mass shootings at two mosques in New Zealand by a white supremacist on Friday, I simply could not get into ‘fun’ mode and felt that perhaps it would be inappropriate anyway. Saturday Surprise will, hopefully, return next Saturday.
I am deeply disturbed and saddened by both of the aforementioned events. Each took the lives of innocent people, and each was preventable. And, while the causes of the two may seem to be completely different, they really aren’t all that different. They both track back to arrogance and a sense of entitlement. Today I would like to share a few of my own thoughts about the two aforementioned events with you.
First, the crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302. I’ve already written about this at some length and won’t repeat what I’ve already said. But this crash could easily have been prevented. Boeing knew that the 737 Max 8 had a flaw, and one crash had already occurred, Lion Air flight 610 on October 29th, 2018. Boeing was negotiating with the FAA for a software fix when the government shut down and talks came to a halt for 5 weeks. And the rest is history.
This, my friends, is a tragic example of capitalism run amok. Corporate greed. Profit vs people’s lives. We live in a corporate world, where governments pander to rich industrialists such as Boeing, Smith & Wesson, Exxon, General Motors and many others. People are put on the back burner. People’s lives take a backseat to the bottom line. 189 people lost their lives on the Lion Air flight and 157 people lost their lives on the Ethiopian Airlines flight. 346 people died because Boeing was more interested in their profits than in those 346 lives. How many lives will be lost due to the burning of fossil fuels, because coal and oil companies care more about profit than lives? How many will be lost due to the spraying of known toxic chemicals on the food we eat, because ‘Big Ag’ cares more for its bottom line than your life or mine? The time has come … actually came long ago … to rein in capitalism, to impose strict safety regulations on every company doing business. Will it happen? Probably not, for those corporations buy our politicians about as easily as we buy a can of peas.
There is a lot of blame to go around for the killings at the Al Noor mosque and the Linwood Islamic Center, it would seem, for everyone seems to be pointing fingers. Many blame the internet and social media, and yes, there is an element of blame there, since the killer had apparently been posting images of weapons and a “manifesto” for his actions online. Some blame right-wing leaders, such as Trump, who have given voice to and even encouraged and emboldened the white supremacists, and certainly they must share a portion of the blame.
But, the reality is that the internet is … us. It is people, expressing their opinions, their hopes, sharing family moments, keeping up with sports, communicating, and in some cases, promoting hate. People. Trump and other right-wing personas exist only because they are given a voice … by people. Who is to blame? The man, Brenton Tarrant, who planned and carried out the massacre, and any associates who may have helped him, certainly carries the lion’s share of blame. Perhaps he got his ideas from radicals and white supremacists on the internet, but who put those ideas out there?
I propose that there is enough blame to go around for most all of us. Sure, Donald Trump opened a can of really nasty worms with his hate speech, his call for a Muslim ban, his denigration of all races other than Caucasian. But people did not have to fall in line behind him. They did, because they chose to, not because he forced them to.
But here’s the other thing, and it is, as I think about it, the main reason I write this blog: We have an obligation to speak out, nay … to SHOUT out … about the injustice of Islamophobia, of homophobia, of misogyny, of white supremacy. It is not enough for those of us who know it is wrong to just shake our collective heads and roll our collective eyes when these things happen! It is NOT enough to send “thoughts and prayers”! Unless we wish to keep seeing bastards like Brenton Tarrant shooting up mosques, shopping malls, movie theaters and schools, then we need to use our voices.
Remember that oft-quoted quotation by Martin Niemöller?
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
We need, more than anything, to have conversations, not screaming matches, not hateful speech on social media sites. We need to speak to and treat each other with respect. It is okay to disagree, but we are getting absolutely nowhere by demeaning others and shouting at the tops of our lungs. But speak we must, for to remain silent is to ensure that tragedies like those from this past week will be ever prevalent. Freedom of speech is not only a right, but also a responsibility. Will we sit quietly by and allow bigots to rule the world in which we live? Think about it.