The struggle for victimhood

Is it any wonder that the Parkland shooting has become a bandwagon onto which attention-seekers have climbed?  The usual Hollywood celebrities, small-time politicos, and aspiring "activists" have scrambled to bask in the exposure that exploiting someone else's misfortune affords them.  Sadly, these hangers-on have become a permanent fixture in the aftermath of disaster, natural or man-made.  So, it is no surprise that NPR's Morning Edition Sunday broadcast a segment titled "People of Color Respond to Parkland."

The broadcast featured a minister of indeterminate denomination with the added credential of "Director of Urban Strategies and Live Free at the 'People Improving Communities through Organizing' Network," located naturally in San Francisco.  Leave it to NPR to inject a bit of levity into an otherwise horrific situation.

Reverend Michael McBride wasted not a minute expressing a thought or a prayer for the seventeen of God's children gunned down last week.  Predictably, he launched into a semi-coherent tirade specifically against 1) "white males" and the "toxicity of masculinity they are drowning in" and 2) law enforcement officers gunning down innocent black men as the real causes for alarm.  Never mind that it appears to be the failure of LEOs to draw their guns last week that in all likelihood cost some victims their lives.  None of the victims was black, so perhaps the matter was of little concern.

The interview with McBride continued for nearly four minutes, not once touching on the victims in Florida.  In fairness, neither did he or squeaky-voiced show hostess Lulu Garcia Navarro talk about the gunplay that ensues on a daily basis in many urban black communities.  As grotesque and gratuitous as school shootings are, their death toll pales in comparison to that of Chicago or Baltimore, where black males murdering one another drive the statistical probability of death into frightening territory.

McBride, however, is not the only "person of color respond[ing] to Parkland."  According a Vox headline, "Parkland is sparking a difficult conversation about race, trauma, and public support":

[F]or some black racial justice activists, organizers, and public figures, the reaction to the students of Stoneman Douglas has also led to another truth: Organizing around Black Lives Matter and the larger Movement for Black Lives, another youth-led movement demanding policy change in the wake of trauma, was not and has not been as readily embraced.  

In other words, these obtuse activists are jealous of the attention the dead Parkland kids have received.  Tweets one Charlene Carruthers, "I'm a bit taken aback (and a bit hurt) that those of us who were in the streets in the past five years for Black lives didn't receive this type of reception or public support."

In the same Vox article, Black Lives Matter founder Patrisse McCullors goes even farther: "White people get to be everything.  They get to victims, they get to be heroes."  The Parkland victims were not all white.  Not even close.

It is beyond appalling that McCullors should express such naked envy of the victims of the Parkland shootings.  In a sane universe, such a lack of empathy for murdered children and their grieving families and friends would be viewed as deeply troubling.  Given the failure of Black Lives Matter to address or even call out the terrible carnage that exists within its own "community," this is perhaps not surprising.  What it is is yet another divisive cut into the rent fabric of race relations.

For whom should we have more contempt?  Those who seek to publicize themselves by exploiting a tragedy or those who despise the victims for stealing the limelight?  Tough call.

Nancy Kelly is a writer for hire.