Where’s the outrage? Funny you should ask

Violence is the excuse Fox Nation is always looking for to wash its hands of America’s racial woes.

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Tio Hardiman speaks to the media Sunday, June 21, 2020. about the responsibility of young men in the community to put an end to violence during a press conference at 600 N. Central Ave in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood on the West Side. Pastor Ira Acree, Pastor James Brooks and other faith and community residents gathered to announce a reward for any information that leads to the perpetrator of the fatal shooting of the 3 year old boy took place late Saturday evening.

Tio Hardiman speaking to reporters on Sunday in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood. Hardiman and several faith leaders gathered at 600 N. Central Ave. to announce a reward for information leading to the person who fatally shot a 3-year-old boy the day before. Hardiman said it is the responsibility of young men in the community to put an end to violence. He was interviewed on Fox News.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

“Where’s the outrage?” activist Tio Hardiman asked Sunday. “For this 3-year-old that was killed. The same kind of outrage when George Floyd was killed by the police in Minneapolis. There should be 30, 40, 50,000 people on the streets, right now, shutting down the Black community until we get it right.”

OK, I’ll bite. Can I fit in 10 thoughts? Let’s try.

1. Did cops kill that 3-year-old too? My hunch is they didn’t. Because the outrage roiling the country is not about the victim, per se, but about living in a nation where a police officer, the representative of law and order, in theory, can leisurely strangle a Black man while his buddies stand guard. That’s what galls, as opposed to the age of the person killed. Though I suppose — I hope — that had the Minneapolis police smothered a toddler, not to give them any ideas, the national outrage would be worse.

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2. That question, “Where’s the outrage?” is a cliche, the half-clever way the Fox Nation sorts and their surrogates — not to point any fingers — try to avoid the admittedly slight risk of being drawn into a sincere conversation about racism. “Where’s the outrage?” is Fox Speak for “Fix it yourself.”

3. Holding our noses, let’s dive into my spam folder, where the tone used to describe last weekend’s 104 shootings is between a leering chortle and a blatting raspberry.

“Maybe the credo should be ‘Black Lives Matter — Except in Lawndale, Englewood, Etc.’ Very sad,” begins one, “very sad” being the polite form of Nelson Muntz’s bray of “Ha-ha!”

4. “Black on Black murders. Horrible,” sighs another. “The media ignore it. Not a peep!”

Well, Fox News certainly didn’t ignore it — that’s where I saw Hardiman’s interview. They even have a running logo, “Chicago’s Crime Wave.” The killings were the front page of Monday’s Sun-Times, not to conflate the two. And the Trib: “Outrage after toddler, teen die.” That sorta answers Hardiman’s question, doesn’t it?

5. It is easier to be outraged over something done to you (like being killed unjustly by cops) than over something we have a hand in doing to ourselves (like the 100-plus shootings in Chicago over the weekend). That’s why George Floyd’s name has entered the American lexicon while ... checking ... Mekhi James, the 3-year-old killed in the Austin neighborhood Saturday, won’t. This isn’t a criticism, but an observation. One tragedy here is how quickly Americans of every color fall to bickering. We’re like a bunch of neighbors gathered around a burning house, hoses and buckets at our feet, yelling at each other about firefighting technique.

6. As with people who complain on Facebook about the media not covering a situation that they somehow magically know about, those wondering where the outrage is over non-police murders haven’t bothered to look. When this subject came up in 2016, after Laquan McDonald’s murder, my former colleague Jen Sabella wrote a fine piece lyrically headlined, “Chicagoans Actually DO Protest Violence In Their Communities All The Time.” Of course they do. Who wants to live in a war zone? Mothers face down gangs. Fathers form block clubs. It’s an insult to assume they don’t.

7. The Republics are going to paint protest against the police as nihilistic racist revolution and will use it as grease as they try to jam Donald Trump’s hideous bulk through the narrow doorway into his second term.

8. Hardiman has it completely backward. Black men don’t need to shut down their communities until they get it right. They need to build them up.

9. So much of this dialogue — scratch that, it’s not a conversation — so much of this trumpet-blasting is just responsibility shifting. Fox Nation wants to convince itself that, despite having its knee firmly on the neck of Black America, they really aren’t involved. They squint into the distance until their eyes focus on something they can get worked up over. “Look! They hate statues! It’s the French Revolution!”

10. There are no pat conclusions here. Violence is caused by and in turn causes every other social ill. Hardiman’s 50,000 Black men can shut down the city for 100 days running. And on the 101st day, somebody has to pick up a broom and start sweeping the broken glass, and binding up broken communities. It’s never as easy as saying stuff on TV.

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