It was back during the Viet Nam War, maybe 1972, cuz I think I was about 4. One evening, after seeing people on fire, during War footage on the Evening News. I asked my mom, “why did they just let them burn?”
She said”what do you mean?”
Blew my moms mind, when I answered “Why didn’t someone put them out? Are they letting them burn because they were brown?..”
She sputtered, “no dear, I don’t….”
“Then why isn’t anyone putting them out? Why did no one help them?”I interrupted.
even at 4 years old, I was asking pretty deep questions…
really had a habit of making my parents have to sit down and formulate answers for me. Grampa Rose called them Conscientious scruples, said I was full of them.
Mom really didn’t have an answer…. other than to tell a 4 year old he was right… and I don’t think she could wrap her head around telling me that kind of truth…
But she didn’t need to. I knew… Even at 4, I saw it, On TV, hell, in my own Neighborhood in Portland, Oregon. Heard it echoing off the handball and basketballs at the park on the next block from my house. Heard it from neighbors, talking over fences.
But I asked then, and, Hell, ask again now.. Anybody think would have come out different, would things have changed quicker, if those monks had looked like Orthodox Rabbis, or priests? Looked like Catholic Priests?
What about that naked, Burned girl, running down the street.. had she been blond, blue eyed, and germanic/ Would there have been greater reaction? Would we actually have gotten to outrage?
Don’t fool yourself, we didn’t then, didn’t get to outrage. don’t let the boomers fool ya…. it was tragic, But their problem, not ours, not Wasp America’s problem. Our problem was our boys dying, not the brown people. Our boys deaths were tragic. The brown deaths were unfortunate, but, the cost of war, cost of progress, or their own damn fault.
And given todays horrible headlines given the abuses heaped on refugees, and people of color world wide… if those same monks lit themselves on fire, nothing would happen today either.
Just like nothing would happen if Central American Refugees started setting themselves on fire at the US Border…
Hell, Trumpublicans would spin them into Terror attacks!
Improvised Molotov Cocktail Attack..