Wednesday, April 18, 2007


The assignment of blame on another person or group has the effect of letting the blamer off the hook. If I blame hip-hop culture for racism, then it’s not my fault. If I blame the NRA for the Virginia Tech shooting, then it’s not my fault. If I blame gays for the erosion of the family, then it’s not my fault. If I blame the White House for global warming, then it’s not my fault. And so forth.

Thank you, Mike Hendricks, for articulating the most humble and level-headed response I have read recently. In his April 18th Kansas City Star column, he says what so desperately needs to be said – it’s our fault. All of us. Together. And thank you, Jenee Osterheldt, whose column on the same date exposes the cultural tendency to blame others as a way to shield one’s self.

Hendricks wrote,
Consider: Why is it that a college student in Virginia can so easily obtain handguns to spray his classmates with deadly bullets?
Because we help make it possible. You and me.
No, we don’t pull the trigger. But we might as well be helping the killers reload by not demanding an end to the easy availability of firearms in this country. We let the NRA have the ears of our politicians, when our voices could be so much louder.
Osterheldt wrote,
Everyone wants to point fingers.
Some say hip-hop is the culprit. Others want to blame George Bush. And then there are the truly hateful who blame homosexuality for all the world’s ills.
But they can say what they want, right? We let people use their right to free speech as a shield, their words as weapons.
To say that assigning blame is simply an attempt to explain a given situation is a smoke screen. There is a big distinction between blaming and explaining. We are in this together, and that is what gives us hope. Only when we deepen our understanding of our individual role in the problems of the community can we work together as a community to eliminate them.

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