At least that’s what happens on the outside, in polite company. However, I have begun to suspect this is only a mask many wear, a pleasing disguise to hide the true ugliness that pervades our society.
A few weeks ago my cousin was murdered as she slept in her bed while her children (plus a couple of their friends) slept in a nearby room. Two gunshots were fired into her head by her estranged boyfriend, who had been beating on her until she made him leave. Her life was over at the age of 33. It was a sad ending to a sad life marked by severe depression and drug abuse.
A side note here: I was not close to this particular woman, so there is no need to offer me your condolences. The pain I feel is that for a life cut short by senseless violence, along with sorrow for those who were close to her, particularly her children. It’s the kind of hurt one has for a long-ago casual acquaintance; a distant shock that someone I once knew has come to a tragic end.
Back to the subject of this blog: to my mind, it made no difference that my cousin was white and the boyfriend was black. That non-issue never entered my consciousness ... until I read the comments posted on the sites where the news story ran. That’s where I discovered that things have not truly changed between the races in America, at least where southern whites are concerned.
Vile, poisonous things were written by posters, people who felt comfortable letting their true colors show under the concealment of anonymity. “That’s what you get when you date a black man.” “Great, more welfare kids supported by my tax dollars.” “What do you expect when you mix with someone from the ‘hood?” And so on. The few that expressed sympathy for the family were ridiculed for it. Those who protested the abusive comments were told things like “If you’re so thin-skinned, you shouldn’t post.” Continued protests were shouted down (textually speaking) by the bullying posters.
No one seemed to care that children were present during their mother’s murder. The feelings of family were discounted in these monsters’ delight in professing their bigotry. Had they known how my cousin’s mother and sister collapsed while gathering the children’s belongings from a bloodsoaked room, they would have only jeered and written more horrible things. These are beings with no souls.
No doubt they never would have said those same words in public. No, because they know their intolerance will not be tolerated, at least not on the surface. The cowards refuse to be exposed. When out among the rest of us, their masks are firmly in place.
After reading the rants posing as statements from ‘concerned citizens’, I was initially in shock. Then curiosity got the better of me, as it often does. Surely this insane deluge of vitriol had to be a rare occurrence, right? Something told me it wasn’t.
Hoping I was wrong, I began looking around at other news sites from around the country and the articles they posted. It turns out it’s not just racism that brings the monsters out to play, and the problem isn’t confined to my neck of the woods. The creatures we never see in society come out in full force whether the subjects are politics or crime (okay, those might be the same thing), whether it’s a natural disaster or genetically-engineered produce, whether it’s a far-flung country’s war or the opening of a new local hardware store. People come out in droves to spread cruelty, for no discernible reason except to be assholes.
There are times I bemoan my lack of social graces and wish I got out among the public more often. Right now, I’m more inclined to stay home and give the world the finger. Because now I know these awful sub-humans are out there, pretending to be decent, civilized people. I know there are many more than I suspected. I know there is a chance I am on friendly speaking terms with some of them because I’ve only seen them with their masks on.
If political correctness has done the world a real disservice, it’s that it’s driven the monsters underground so that we can pretend they no longer exist. They’re still out there, teeming with black hatred for the rest of us. They smile in our presence only to strike behind our backs.
I think I might prefer outright hatred in my face. Having awakened to this cesspool of faceless brutality, I wonder if I’d feel better having someone openly scream at me for having friends of various ethnicities, friends of differing (and sometimes no) religions, and friends who are gays and lesbians. At least then I’d know what I was up against. It’s got to be better than abruptly discovering the beasts have been here all along, hiding in plain sight and waiting until the worst moments of a person’s life to glory in that other’s heart-wrenching pain.