“It’s funny,” my friend said, smoking on the curb at the Hollywood Transit Center.
“I take this bus twice a day, five days a week. Normally the only people here at this time of day are homeless, crazy, or wage-slaves like me.” She gestured dismissively at the well-dressed, immaculate crowd gathered at the impromptu memorial for Rick Best, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche and Micah Fletcher. “All this?” she said, snubbing out her cigarette, “It’s cute, it makes for a great photo op. These guys can show their support on Instagram, get some likes on Facebook, whatever. But are they gonna be here next week?”
Another friend spoke up. “I’m hearing a lot of people talk about heroism. A lot of white people applauding these other white people, donating to their GoFundMe pages. That’s great.
“It’s a beautiful outpouring of support. But no one’s talking about the girls who were actually harassed,” XXXX continued. “No one’s talking about minorities, about Islamophobia.”
In fact, Fletcher, the recent MHCC student, has tried to steer attention toward the harrassed teen passengers. (On Thursday, he met one of them, and her parents, in an emotional reunion, OregonLive.com reported.)
He used a Facebook post to write, “Suffice it to say, that I think it’s immensely, immensely and morally wrong how much money we have gotten as opposed to the money, love, kindness that has been given to that little girl,” the Associated Press reported.
At our Advocate editorial meeting this week, I racked my brain trying to figure out ways I could get ahold of this guy. Could I sneak into the hospital, navigating a labyrinth of air ducts? Pretend to be a family member? Cut the power? Pull the fire alarm? How could I figure out a way to interrupt, bother and record a kid who just got stabbed in the neck? How could I capture the pain he was going through and use it to get some content for this week’s issue?
What is our role in all of this? (as… reporters/students/citizens?????)
Raising awareness is a good thing, I think. At least, I don’t think it’s a bad thing. The stabbings that occurred on the MAX were horrific, they were troubling, they speak to a deep, deep divide in the American populace, a sickness, a canker, and we have a responsibility to shed light on this. We need to throw it into harsh relief, and ask ourselves how we got here, what forces are at work in fueling hatred, fear, and violence against those who are not like us. We need to ask ourselves what role we play in acknowledging the existence of these forces, what we are doing to stand up and actively fight those forces, and which of our actions (or lack of action) are allowing these forces to perpetuate.
But for Christ’s sake, this is not about you.
This is about two girls who were riding home. This is about a batshit, hate-fueled man who took his fear, his anger, his hatred and funneled at these girls. This is about people who did the right thing and stood up to this man, and paid a price they shouldn’t have fucking had to, to do it.
What it’s not about is you making sure all your friends know your stance on this. It’s not about seizing this opportunity to advance your stance or agenda. It’s not about politics, or Ted Wheeler, or even our president.
This is about recognizing that we are sick, that we are broken, and asking ourselves what we’re doing about that fact.