Sunday, January 24, 2021

Death threats and national life

This morning I was reading the obituary of the great baseball star, Hank Aaron. I remember when he hit 715, and passed the record set by Babe Ruth -- what a great day that was! But for Aaron, it was somewhat spoiled by racist attacks, including death threats. This hit me hard, because we've been bombarded with reports of death threats -- death threats to election officials, death threats to elected officials. Whoever heard of death threats to people who oversee elections?

But when I think about it in relation to Hank Aaron, I am forced to think across a longer span of time, about a very long history of death threats, and not only threats, but actual lynchings or even legally sanctioned murder, such as the killings of Native People, or the massacre in Tulsa, among others.  

I asked British urbanist, Andy Merrifield, if this were true in his country as well as mine. He wrote back that, no, there were lots of things wrong in England, but not the kind of naked violence that exists in the US -- in that the US is unique.

Somehow, artist Tim O'Brien was able to put it all together for us in one startling image, which Time magazine put on its cover.  I am studying this image as it helps me wrap my mind around the task ahead.  

Addendum, 1.16.21

New York Times today had a count of Donald Trump's attacks on Twitter -- depending on how you define "attack," the number was between 6,000 and 10,000, beginning with the announcement of his campaign for President in 2015.  

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