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Unformatted text preview: d to see[s] this act as not merely body murder but spirit-murder as well. I see it as spirit-murder, only one of whose manifestations is racism -- cultural obliteration, prostitution, abandonment of the elderly and the homeless, and genocide are some of its other guises. I see spirit-murder as no less than the equivalent of body murder. One of the reasons that I fear what I call spirit-murder, or disregard for others whose lives qualitatively depend on our regard, is that its product is a system of formalized distortions of thought. It produces social structures centered around fear and hate; it provides a timorous outlet for feelings elsewhere unexpressed. For example, when Bernhard Goetz shot four black teenagers in a New York City subway, an acquaintance of mine said that she could understand his fear because it is a "fact" that blacks commit most crimes. What impressed me, beyond the factual inaccuracy of this statement, was the reduction of Goetz' crime to "his fear," which I translate to mean her fear. The four teenage victims became all blacks everywhere, and "most crimes" clearly meant that most blacks commit crimes. In the process of devaluing its image of black people, the general white population seems to have been socialized to blind itself to the horrors inflicted by white people. One of the clearest examples of the mechanics of this socialized blindness is the degree to which the public and the media in New York repeatedly and relentlessly bestialized Goetz' victims. Images of the urban jungle, of young black men filling the role of "wild animals," were favorite journalistic constructions. Young white urban professionals were mythologized, usually wrapped in the rhetorical apparel of lambs or sheep, as the tender, toothsome prey. The corollary to such imagery is that the fate of those domesticated white innocents is to be slaughtered in confrontation, the dimensions of which thus become meaninglessly and tragically sacrifici...
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- Fall '13