Faceless Victims of Crime

Rudy Eugene and his victim, Ronald Poppo

The other day in Florida, USA, a man was seen eating the face of another man. All of this took place on a bridge and a passing witness flagged down a police car. The officer ordered the man to stop eating the victim’s face but when he continued to ‘chow down’, as the Americans say, the officer shot him. When the offender then attacked the officer, another four or five rounds did the trick.

The offender was a black male with a history of violence, crime and drug use. No doubt someone along the way expected him to go off at some stage but not by cannibalism. It appears he was on a new, very psychotropic (I guess that’s the term) version of a methamphetamine or similar drug. Some will say well what do you expect, he’s black. The inference is that his offence is racially rooted yet the real cause is not genetic but social, surely? If it were because he was an African-American then how come a Nordic man has cut off the lips of his wife and eaten them specifically so they couldn’t be sewn back on? Not some drug crazed minority victim of a social system that pins down the less fortunate but a respected member of the faculty of one of Sweden’s top institutes of learning. So can we say it is because he is white? No, nor would we even think to apply that explanation. Yet many of us, if only deep in our sub-conscious, are all too willing to claim race as a reason when it comes to ‘minorities’. They may be minorities in our Anglo dominated countries for now, but one day it may be those of European heritage who are the minority. What then?

If we don’t play fair now while we have the whip hand, so to speak and conjuring up all sorts of colonial era imagery, how can we expect a fair go for ourselves and our kids and grand kids when ‘they’ are the most of us? It is similar to how we treat Muslim youth in our country. If we don’t try to accept them as Australians then they will not feel Aussie and so they will find it easier to disassociate themselves with the society in which they grew up and live and behave as the 7/7 Bombers did in the UK and commit the most heinous crimes against their own people. They may be loud, aggressive and speak with a funny accent, but perhaps that is an attempt to establish some kind of identity when they are not considered one thing or the other by the society their family came from or the one they now live in? Home grown terrorists, regardless of the cause or reason for the terror are more of a threat than being invaded by a foreign power or even being the target of a terrorist attack from abroad.

It isn’t easy to put our prejudices aside, especially those based on ethnicity. They are deeply rooted in our survival mechanisms because ever since the beginning of mankind, people from other tribes and places, especially those that looked different to you so you knew they weren’t ‘your people’, were potential threats to your very existence. Today we should be a little more sophisticated and rational, yet many of us aren’t. Put it down to ignorance, poor education, bad parenting and of course, the government, but the fact remains we all have our preferences and our prejudices about everything. The least we can do is identify and accept them, then perhaps we can work out which ones will be justified and keep us alive, and which ones will end up adding to the problem and not being a part of the solution.

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