John Reimann's personal blog

Murder in Oakland

Homicide father and one year old child

Living in Oakland, it’s hard to believe that killing a fellow human being is so unnatural to the human species. After all, since 2011, 21 children have been killed here, five of them eight years old or younger.  That’s why, when I read about the murder of 20 year-old Andrew Thomas and his one year-old son, Andrew “Drew” Jackson I didn’t think about it too much.

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Then I found out that they were family members of some friends of mine.

It’s hard to commemorate these latest victims without buying into the hype of “black-on-black” crime, which is used to obscure racist murders like those of Trayvon Martin or Oscar Grant. Nothing can justify these nor belittle its importance.

But all the same, we have to remember the Andrew and “Drew” Jacksons… and ask ourselves what is wrong with a society that produces so many murders.

And then I remember Noor Aziz, age 8 and Maezol Khan, also 8, and Afrah ali Mohammed Nasser, all of 9 years old and Shafiq Hussein Abdullah Awad – she was just one year old when she was killed in Yemen by a drone strike, as were these other children, the first two in Pakistan. Their numbers can numb the mind too. But do their parents and family members not grieve, just as do the family members of the Jackson father and son duo? Weren’t those children’s lives filled with all the joys and hurts that Drew Jackson’s life was filled with?

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 And the difference between the killers of the Jacksons and the killers of those little children in Yemen and Pakistan?

The difference is that the latter are in power, and that makes them even more guilty of their crimes. And when those in power see the death of little children as – at best – “collateral damage”, then what do we expect from the rest of the society they govern over? When all that matters is profits, and permanent damage to the planet no less human suffering don’t even enter into the equation, then this attitude will be communicated to the rest of society and others will take it up. So the war in the deserts of Yemen is mirrored in its own distorted way by the war in the streets of Oakland.

But all the same, we have to feel the pain that those around them feel. And be determined to change the world which so cheapens human life.

Oh, and about taking of human life being unnatural: Studies of US soldiers in WW II showed that 80-85% of troops intentionally shot over the heads of the “enemy” during battles. When they found out about that, the US military brass got to work figuring out how to brain wash the recruits to overcome that natural resistance. The success of their efforts may well be part of the reason that traumatic stress is so high among Afghan and Iraqi war vets today.

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