Widow Myrlie Evers grieves the death of her husband, NAACP activist Medgar Evers, who was killed for his role in pushing the integration of the University of Mississippi, as well as fighting to end Jim Crow.
White racial supremacists were pushed to the fringes of society years ago, but just because they can’t operate and recruit with impunity or hang a black person in broad daylight anymore doesn’t mean they’re dead. They still exist, in the prison system, on the down low and on the internet. The smart racists with the money and the clout abandoned the Klan to go mainstream years ago, leaving an unhinged, poor, ignorant vacuum to fill the ranks of their former organizations. But while you don’t need to join the Ku Klux Klan to get into West Virginian politics like Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd did long ago, these organizations still exist and groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center still track them.
While most of the time they can barely get a decent prison riot off the ground, they are more than capable of inspiring a lone shark or two to take their words and finally turn them into deadly action.
In July 1999, a man with ties to Illinois white supremacist group World Church of the Creator went on a three-day shooting spree resulting in the deaths of two people and the wounding of nine others targeting blacks, Asians and Jews. The Columbine killers were inspired by a lot of things, but Hilter’s birthday seemed like a good day to kill a lot of innocent people. And while not associated with any hate group, the sociopathic killing spree at Virginia Tech was the work of an individual.
It’s hard to game the system for one or two rouge nuts, hate group affiliated or just members of the hate fan club.
Knowing this I was both happy and disturbed that yet another conspiracy to assassinate Barack Obama has been felled, this time by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
“They said that would be their last, final act – that they would attempt to kill Sen. Obama,” Cavanaugh said. “They didn’t believe they would be able to do it, but that they would get killed trying.”
On one hand, great job ATF on accidentally busting up what potentially could have been a killing spree by two Neo-Nazi skinheads. Theirs designs could have resulted in the deaths of many people, specifically the black people they wanted to target, and the possible murder of Obama as their coup de grâce.
On the other, every plot foiled makes me think about what I don’t want to think about — that one, really motivated, hate-filled, fame-lusting nutjob who wants to get his or her name in the history books. That one with their shiny gun and worst laid plans. That one nut that no amount of police work can prepare for because there is no way to know what darkness lurks in the heart of the individual.
I typically don’t worry about Obama’s safety. Not because it isn’t an issue, but because this is the life he’s chosen. He and Michelle knew that if he ran for president he was going to attract attention and some of it was going to be of the “kill the nigger” kind. It kept Gen. Colin Powell from running, his wife worried both about their private lives being scrutinized and about the death threats they began receiving when just the notion of him running was being bandied about.
There is a reason racists react so strongly every time minorities made inroads. It was the ultimate, last resort (or first resort in some cases) way to terrorize us all back into our places. As long as tyranny could rule, everyone — white, black, male and female — would remain in check, not causing any trouble that would upset the racist order of things.
But challenge the order and someone will challenge you. Therefore I spend a lot of time focusing on the positive, on the ins and outs of the campaign and not any visions of violence taking the lives of the innocent, of the senator’s family or of himself. No one knows what tomorrow will bring and there’s no use in living in fear of that tomorrow. Obama isn’t, so we shouldn’t either.
That said, when I first heard this story the first person I thought of was Obama’s running mate, Sen. Joe Biden. As many may recall, it was many moons ago when Biden, then still Obama’s opponent, suggested that the Secret Service start working security for Obama, fearing the large, unregulated crowds that swarmed him at events. Maybe that was one of the factors why Biden was picked as Obama’s vice presidential nominee over everyone else.
Even as rivals, Biden had his back.
Lastly, if anyone falsely believes that because there are those who would threaten Obama’s life as president that we should “spare” ourselves and his family some grief by not voting for him, you — sir or madame — are a fool.
If Obama can live his life without fear the least we can do is vote without fear. If we historically had chose to not engage simply out of fear of death I’d be somewhere back in Mississippi chopping and picking cotton for the low, low price of free. Never get so complacent that you forget what really matters — progress. No person, man or woman, has ever died in vain in the fight for it.
Fear is not an option.