Race and class matter

We expect indignation when tragedies occur. But a phrase I heard in the 1970s, regarding then-president Jimmy Carter’s foreign policy, comes to mind — “selective indignation.” Carter opposed policies in country A, but supported country B which utilized same policies.

I see this selective indignation when it comes to tragedies such as what occurred in Connecticut. Rightfully, our nation, led by a 24/7 media blitz and politicians of both parties, focused on the pain and suffering of so many innocents. But, on average, 32 innocent people are murdered daily and 1 million killed by gunfire since 1970. Some of these tragedies were reported nationally, some were not. Why?

Too often, who is killed, raped or kidnapped matters. What distinguishes these disparities in treatment: race and class.

Hollywood/media has a long history of not seeing many injustices when it comes to people of color and the poor, some who are white. Politicians and the general public then take their cues and do not display the same amount of indignation we do for similar tragedies affecting whites. Sensationalism can influence reactions.

We have a historic record to illustrate how selective indignation plays into our collective behavior/reactions. Children who turn up missing/kidnapped; rape/assault victims. All races/classes are ill-affected, but not all receive the same levels of indignation. What seems to be the historic trends? Race and class matter.

Thomas Sass

Iowa City


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