I wish it were so simple. I wish it would make a material difference if you saw some KKK grand wizard choking on a cracker and ignored it, but would it? In reality, won’t they just have a funeral and pick a new one? Won’t the cycle continue with or without this one hate-monger walking around?
How is it possible someone as repugnant as Steve Scalise was elected to public office? If it weren’t him, who else would those same constituents have picked? Someone better? Someone worse? Probably someone about the same? How did our world get to this point? Why do Microsoft and Alphabet Inc appear on the list of his top 20 campaign contributors? How can our decisions effect real change?
Vast institutions with entrenched histories stretching back centuries are populated with Steve Scalises, complete with tax dollars taken from you and me to fund their own private security comprising victims of their oppression to protect them from unhinged gunmen. This is the apparatus of white supremacy, in which we are all cogs. It is maddening to see, but choosing to aid or ignore one bigot as he dies in front of you will be of no consequence, and will be your psychological burden to bear regardless of the decision you make.
Can we make a difference through a series of instances of giving no fucks to the plights of individual oppressors, hoping their oppressive systems will disappear with them? I am not so optimistic, but I’m willing to admit I don’t know either way. I have this depressing feeling that just moving out of America and no longer contributing tax dollars to the Capitol Police or our imperialistic, corrupt government is about the biggest act of social justice I can perform. Yet, here I am, still an American.
In a battle between the moral and the immoral, the immoral will always win because they have no qualms about not abiding by the rules. Whereas those of us who imagine ourselves as moral gladly die at the immorals’ hands because we think better glories await us in some other, unseen realm. We, the moral are terrible at memory. We never remember who created these rules and for what purpose. The immoral created morality so that we would accept their abuse and never even dream of retaliation.
While morality and immorality have been twisted by eons of social manipulation, compassion has existed since before there were civilizations or laws to prop them up, before there were oppressors and oppressed. Some anthropologists even believe it is compassion and empathy that allowed humans to form civilizations in the first place. While we may call systems of arbitrary morality out for the sinister agents of oppression that they are, we should not, at the same time, surrender agency over the very human trait of compassion to those who have exploited it. Compassion and empathy do not belong to them or flow from them.
With that in mind, I cannot judge the person who sees another human being in distress and offers aid. For some, it is in our nature and maybe even hardwired into our brains from our first few months of life. For others, we reason the more compassionate act to the world as a whole is to let the bigot suffer and die. But, in the context of a world with systemic oppression that transcends any one oppressor, and a civilization whose first steps out of the stone age were forged from bonds of human empathy, who is right and who is wrong? Is there even a right and wrong?
Regardless of the answers, you have contributed a worthy voice and perspective to the discussion. One small act in the struggle.