Robert Dear and What We Value

Robert Dear’s attack on a Planned Parenthood is illustrative of a number of systemic facts about modern American life. Dear had a history of violent behavior, having been arrested in 1992 for sexually assaulting a woman in South Carolina. There is no record that he served jail time for this offense so in all likelihood the case against him was dismissed. After killing three and injuring nine, Dear was taken into police custody, and in the aftermath of the attacks the major media has taken every journalistic precaution in their attempts to present this case to the public. All this is evidence of something very wrong with American society.

It is evidence of our criminal justice system’s refusal to protect the victims of sexual violence. It is evidence of our institutional protection of white men, their motivations for sexual violence, their motivations for murder, their motivations for terrorism. Were Robert Dean a 17 year old black kid walking the streets, or playing in the park, there is no reason to suspect that he would have come out of his encounter with the police alive. And were Robert Dean an Arab or a Muslim there is no reason to suspect that the press would be treating this situation as delicately as they have thus far, refusing to speculate on the possible motivations of the killer. This episode is clear evidence of just how little value is placed on the lives of women and minorities in our society.

Each and every day across this country the rights of these, their very agency, is under attack, compromised, their very lives being undermined by their next door neighbors, their bosses, their family and friends. So ingrained in our culture is the systemic destruction of women and minorities that it barely gets noticed, even by many fair minded people. People who sit on the fence and deny the very fact of the struggle faced by so many of their fellow Americans, fellow human beings. They play semantic political games in which they blame a generalized “Washington politics”, or a “broken Congress”, or “both political parties”. It is akin to a  parent who refuses to recognize the violent tendencies of their child, allowing a sickness to fester until it reaches a peak and begins to snuff out human lives. Only once confronted with the brutalized corpses of their child’s victims are they able to admit to some part of the truth.

Unfortunately, such a moment of realization may never come for us as a society. Despite the clear fact that the center cannot hold the corporate media, the establishment of the Democratic Party, and the general public, all devote countless time and resources to stitching it together out of some silly sense of pragmatism, moderation, and compromise. All the while lives are being lost. This same fundamental contradiction applies to each and every problem our society faces. The very system we support, the very institutions we rely on, the very social structure we have spent hundreds of years developing, is burning all we hold dear to the ground. Soon there will come a moment when we will no longer have a choice as to what we value, and therefore what we are going to save. The system is going to decide it for us. And it will not be pretty.


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