Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Handle with Care: Racism, Omar Thornton, and the Connecticut Workplace Shooting Rampage

What is your breaking point? What is your limit? What could drive you to do the unimaginable?

I was talking to my mother in Connecticut today about the tragic workplace shooting that took eight lives at a Hartford area beer distributor. We both commiserated around a common point: It is rare to see a black person shooting up their place of employment. A true oddity it is. Funny, with our shared dark sense of humor, mom and I both agreed that by necessity black Americans have pretty thick skins. For ultimately, black folks couldn't have made it this far as a people if we couldn't balance our laughs and our cries.

I have always, and will continue to firmly believe that if white folk on average went through just a little of the b.s. (both real and imagined...and it is the latter that really kills you in the long term) that black Americans as a people take for granted, they would be shooting up their jobs 24-7.

Thus, and once more it would seem, that white privilege does indeed have many privileges both subtle and gross. (How do you like that Oscar Wilde like wordplay?)

We don't know if Omar Thornton was driven to kill his co-workers because he was harassed on the job. Hell, it won't matter either way, as in the final analysis Omar will have to answer to the fates for the crime which he committed and the lives that he stole.

But the timing of this story could not have been worse. In the long hot summer of Tea Party Breitbart white racial resentment and Chicken Littlesque "the sky is falling" because we have a black President politics, it won't take long for this complicated story of human failing, weakness, and tragedy to be fit into a white racially reactionary frame. Stated more simply, for many on the Right, Omar Thornton's murderous deeds will be magically linked to President Obama, and this tragic incident will be proof positive that "those people" don't know "their place."

A frightening thought: How long until the racially resentful cabal of angry white men who are "losing their country" decide to actively strike back?

Per our tradition, what does the Right-wing Vox Populi peanut gallery have to say about this story?

Oh, well, he kills five people because of what he perceives as racism, then I guess it's ok. That explains it. Wasn't his fault. I wonder if the Dems will see any connection at all with their incessant "playing of the race card" and some
nut-job shooting people at work.--RuralDelivery

This shooter was a thief, is anyone surprised at that? He was caught on tape stealing, is anyone surprised by that? He was fired for stealing, is anyone surprised by that. He plotted to murder white people, is anyone surprised by that? I sure am not. The black panthers have been calling for the killing of crackers and their babies , yet the media ignores it. When it actually happens well its the white guys fault. I would be willing to bet that if any racial animosity was present, it was that of the shooter, and not the victims.--Whiteguy2

Well, there you have it. Racial(unproven) discrimination of a black man is justification for the slaughter of his alledged tormentors.. I'm sure the evidence(his word)will be all that is needed to ensure the headlines read; "8 People commit suicide by racism and are implicated in the subsequent death of their attacker." News at 11.--LizardLips

An entire class of people bitterly clings to simmering racial grievances and a sense of entitlement. Their leaders encourage these feelings and stir up rage in order to retain their own power. This is the result.--Robert

And here I thought we were supposed to be worried about "violent" white tea partiers...

There has to be some way that this can be elevated to a racial issue even though he was video taped stealing.--dumpsterdog

Maybe the victims families should sue the shooters family for everything they have? Isn't that what blacks try and do in the same situation?--NewRiverPatriot

Calling Jessie Jackson. Calling Al Sharpton. Calling Tawana Brawley. Where are you. Time to put the blame on whites again.--tasuja

Yes, the white man drove him to steal beer. Geeeez. This race card thing is getting way out of hand. Obama was supposed to help with this but has only worsened it in my opinion.--johnbminn

The news is not reporting this, but his victims were no doubt all White. Of course the corrupt anti-white holder justice department would not consider this a hate crime. The holder view is thornton was just acting out his frustration and should be understood and eulogized. The obamas probably smiled as well and will consider him a hero.--philty

Now scum like this guy are playing the race card from beyond the grave. He lost his job because he was videotaped stealing. I don't care what he thought about his co-workers being racist, nothing they might have said excuses his murdering people. I only have sympathy for his victims.--reaper69

The white middle class is getting so tired of the race card being used that some are beginning to get fed up. They are getting fed up with getting up for work each day, only to have to give half of their paycheck to some low life drug dealer on SSI. Then if you keep your mouth shut you are a coward according to Eric Holder, but if you speak openly about racial problems you are a racist. How can they win?--goodbyeusa1776

And now his family is screaming RACISM. He was on tape STEALING BEER-and yet the family cries racism. It is thru actions like this that they are NEUTERING the word RACISM. Based upon the RACE of the Victims couldn't we claim he was the RACIST?? And where is the one who was going to UNITE US ALL WITH HIS CORONATION-HAS THE CAT GOT HIS TONGUE???--suehal


Anonymous said...

This is a hate crime... Hate crimes are not only for minorities. If he got caught stealing and as a result was fired then that just him being irresponsible.

What I am tried of is people acting like racism does not exist it don't the entire country is built on racism, no president of color will change this; it just shows progress.

Anonymous said...

F--k those a-holes!! Please where the hell were THOSE people when it was Joeseph Stack or Charles Mccoy or Jihad Jane or George Hannard. or Bufford Furrow or the white female professor or the Columbine,etc. shootings?!! Funny how those SAME people played the 'crazy card' and made every excuse in the damn book for those people gee wonder why.

Unknown said...

Just stating the obvious, I'm in agreement with both the previous posts. Also it is noteworthy: It may require a specific monetary amount but the stealing of beer, in that it is regulated by ATF, is a Federal offense. But the killings are "local" law enforcement. Ironic, ain't it.
I HATE the term HATECRIME... this was and IS premeditated murder. What can make that any worse? AND performed by a coward.. like the Columbine incidents and all others mentioned. I'll bet this guy stole more than an "occassional" case of beer. AND guess what... STEALING A BEER is no LESS stealing than A case of beer.
So let's just sit by and see how many "cracker babies" are killed before ppl wake up and get off their PC a$$e$????
Union shop, all sorts of opportunity to file grievances against "racist" activity, and the union would have loved to do so, they are breaking their necks to enlist minority employees. But, the only thought that goes through this dumba$$eS head is "kill crackers". But he did save us the $$$ of going to trial, because being the coward he was he elected to spare the taxpayers the expense of a trial. I thank him for that... DRT.

Unknown said...

OHHH!!! I have a P.S.

Next time a white guy shoots up a bunch of black guys make sure the article is posted with pictures of Billy Graham and the like to insure the world sees there are a coupla decent white folk left on this planet.

Amy said...

It was the gun that caused this, he was powerless to resist its’ will.

Tenured Radical said...

Well, none of these comments are very helpful, and condolences for those who have suffered from this violence are in order -- not more racism. For those of us who live in Connecticut, part of what is shocking is that --despite the fact that we do have gun shops and a large population that hunts -- these kinds of things almost never happen here.

But part of what is *not* shocking is that Connecticut is one of the most racially segregated states in the Northeast, and has the largest gap between rich and poor. Living in Connecticut is an ongoing experience in racism, in which black people attend the worst schools, receive the least services, and live in the most violent neighborhoods with the worst housing. This is a place where a not-so-adequate working class job stands between many people and homelessness. Clearly this man was unhinged, and he may have been very unpleasant to work with: but just because he was paranoid and out of control does not mean that he was not subjected to racism. Furthermore, I wouldn't be shocked if it comes out that everyone steals beer at that place, and that this guy would would easily have seen the security tape as a thin pretext for dismissal.

John Kurman said...

No, this isn't about race. This is about mental illness. Although, Mister D, you do have a very valid point about the amount of stress we white people avoid.

I mean, I suppress the urge to kill two, three times a day, and my pampered life (it is, if I am to be honest with myself), compared to most, is a sun dappled meadow with a crystal brook burbling through it.

Anonymous said...

How sad to see the name "Thornton" in this story. We had a "Cookie Thornton" shoot to death a policeman, two aldermen and the mayor in Kirkwood Missouri a year or so ago. His complaint was that his trucks were getting ticketed. Will the concept of personal responsibility survive, or will any thing be justified because "the man" treated someone, in his opinion, unfairly. Come on folks, time to grow up and play by the rules. They won't make you an automatic winner, but breaking them makes you an automatic loser.

Anonymous said...

This fits the "Columbine" or "Going Postal" pattern. The only thing complicating it is that the murderer was a victim of racism before he snapped, whereas usually it's something more nebulous like "that guy just never fit in" or "he was a loser."

Of course, we'll see how this plays out, but so far it reminds me of Fort Hood, another "Going Postal" incident that the right wing media turned into a political incident by making use of racial and religious bigotry.

chaunceydevega said...

@John. You are right. This is a sick person whose narrative will be read into another to serve political demagoguery.

@Tenured--As someone from the CT area--New Haven/Hamden--I can certainly relate. Folks tend to this of racism as as a "Southern" thing. Hell no. There were sundown towns throughout the country. Two moments where I really felt the sting of white (ethnic) racism were at Lucibello's near Pepe's where a friend of mine went there and you would have thought we were aliens. The older itals in the joint looked through us (as opposed to at us) and made it clear that was "their" space.

The second time was in a trip to Torrington, CT. Little did I know that was the former home of the Grand Wizard of the KKK. Trust me, we got out black behinds out of town before sundown. It was that scary an experience. My drive through Brooklyn, CT comes a close second.

Totally, random what department are you in at Wesleyan? If you can email me offline as I had a question about a dept.

Anonymous said...

Joseph Stack 'play by the rules'?!! Or Charles McCoy or Russell Weston or the MANY white males who shoot up their workplaces because they were 'pissed'?!! No oh well then have a big freaking glass of STFU!! PLease every damn time this happens with a white male there are RAMPANT amount of excuses and I rarely if ever see anyone held accountable for their actions so who the f--k are you kidding?!! And I wasn't trying to be 'helpful' I was stating what is fact. DON'T PREACH IT IF YOU AIN'T GOING TO PRACTICE IT YOUR DAMN SELF!

Anonymous said...

Brother Omar Thornton shoots him some cracker racist

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