Thursday, May 11, 2006

"Suicide Is LA la LA la LA la"

A few weeks ago I heard of a book about suicide bombers, such as the ones we've become so mesmerized by over the past couple of years in the Middle East. Apparently, Robert Pape (in "Dying to Win: the Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism") suggests that suicide bombers pop up as a last ditch effort to get rid of forces that have occupied their land. It's an intriguing thought, when you consider that the U.S. military is supposedly "liberating" country after country over there rather than "occupying" them. Of course, if the military doesn't leave when they're done "liberating," then the people who have been "liberated" may, in fact, feel "occupied." Not much gratitude, I guess.

Anyway, as I thought about this idea since, it occurred to me that I've repeatedly come across statistics of late about young Black males killing themselves. The Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia, for example, reported that between 1980 and 1996, the suicide rate for 15 to 19-year-0ld African-American males more than doubled. The Black Mental Health Alliance reported that the actual figure for that period represents a rise of 146%. And another source I saw, but can't relocate, claimed that if the age group was broadened to include Black males to twenty-four years of age, the rise in suicide rate becomes nearly 250%. The situation gets even more dire when you add the fact that some social scientists are now discussing the idea that many of the so-called homicides of one young Black male by another are probably masked suicides, where a desperate and struggling young man just puts himself in a position to be killed--so that he can die.

Obviously, this is a heart-breaking situation. But once I had both of these thoughts jockeying for position in my mind simultaneously, I began to imagine what the implications might be. What if young Black men are killing themselves, not because their land has been occupied, but because their minds have been taken hostage by racist forces that have set up camp and refused to leave and they don't see any way less radical to free themselves.

Reminded of the song "Suicide is Painless" (the "MASH" t.v. show theme song written by Mike Altman), I looked up the lyrics and found:

"The game of life is hard to play.
I'm gonna lose it anyway.
The losing card I'll someday lay,
so this is all I have to say:
suicide is painless,
it brings on many changes;
and I can take or leave it, if I please.

"The sword of time will pierce our skins.
It doesn't hurt when it begins,
but as it works its way on in,
the pain grows it grin..."

So what am I trying to say with all this morbid talk of death and desperation? Well, one thing is that I do believe in some kind of kharmic unfolding: that what goes around comes around for societies, as well as individuals. Everybody says they believe some version of this thought. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" says the Christian Bible. "Do not to others what you wouldn't want done to you" says the Jewish Torah. "Whatever you send into the lives of others comes back into your own" was my mother's version.

"Well, I'm not making anybody kill themselves," Mr. White Bread protests petulantly.

No, Mr. White Bread, but you're helping to maintain and benefitting from a system that makes young people want to. And believe me, it's the same thing.

A dead youth may not hold you responsible, but if you believe in God or a Source of any kind from which the above named principles may have emanated, then you better watch your back. Because every dead child is an indictment against us collectively and even individually, if we are not actively involved in changing the status quo.

We watch the suicide bombers in the Middle East as if our President and our military and our torturing interrogators and our tax dollars were not specifically perpetrating the horrors of occupation on innocent victims of our war machine. And we watch the suicide rate of young Black males rise as if it somehow had nothing to do with the fact that we won't provide them a decent education, and we won't hire them to do a decent job, and we incarcerate them at our earliest opportunity, and tell them as often and in as many ways as possible that it's all their fault. I just hope they don't start taking people with them when they go. But we may have it coming, if they do.


unrestrained said...

It's funny you should post about this subject because I've be thinking about it in my own way lately.

At the JAC as part of the assessment/intervention process we ask the youths repeatedly if they have ever thought or or tried to commit suicide. 99% the answer is no, and the majority of kids usually reply with a bold statement of "I would never kill myself"...its makes you wonder what happens to them between the ages of 14 and 18 that would make them change that mentality. Although I'm sure anyone who's been in the system (whichever system that may be) will want out after a while.

Hillary For President said...

I concure. Fact is, suicide rates very high among people of African dissent. And what you talk about black kids jump in front of gun just do die. that is very insite full. Bottom line: cracker kids dont do that.

But still.

Even higher sucide rates amoung black males with alterntive lifestyle's. That you not menshion. I thing you should thing about that.

Anyway, Alan Alda whoever, was a genius and that guy the song about, he was a fairy accoring to MASH. If you ever saw MASH on tv you know that I mean. So, even though actor was white he had alterntive lifestyle and wanted too kill himself, just like black kids off alternative lifestyle's today.

In a way, we need to recknize black kids with alternative lifestyle's jsut like other black kdis. Strait crackas, take care off selfs. Noboday care them.

Mulciber (aka Strait cracka) said...

Yeah, suicide is a societal disease; it's is going up in the native population, also.

Oh, I need to point out a factual inaccuracy in your post.

"Everybody says they believe some version of this thought. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" says the Christian Bible. "Do not to others what you wouldn't want done to you" says the Jewish Torah. "Whatever you send into the lives of others comes back into your own" was my mother's version."

I was 7 years when I told my father that after learning it in school.

He said: no, son, 'the golden rule" is "whoever has the gold makes the rules"

In light of my experience, I don’t think that ‘everybody says they believe…etc”

Changeseeker said...

Well, Mulciber, I would have to agree with your dad that whoever has the gold makes the rules in a society. But while I (like you) have long since learned that many people don't actually treat others the way they would want to be treated, they do typically (and interestingly enough) say they believe that we should...? Which was the point I was going for.

Hillary For President said...

But still.

Fact is fact. Neocon fat cat liek BushCo have all the gold, make all the rule's than they brake the rule's just fast. They complin ordinary citzen brake the rule, but they brake the rule it ok. kind of hard to under stand. Leaf it too the NeoCons.

With hillary for president we will gain some equitiability.

that is ture

Changeseeker said...

One of the current rules, Hillary, appears to be that the ones in control get to break the rules when they want to. Hmmm...

Hillary For President said...

Exact change seek. Like when Colon Powell go up to UN with a jar full of flour say this antrax, this can skill, let me invade iraq and dump out anthrax.

just like that.

None of this happen with hillary for president.

Mulciber (aka Strait cracka) said...

hillary for president:

That's a great point about bushco now, although your point could be applied more accurately to : The political elite anywere and at any time in history (note guncontrol pushing democrat politicians ride with Secret Service agents holding weapons banned in the US since 1934)(well, taxed pigovianally since 1934, illegal since 1968).

Also, Take a glance at hillary's legal history, tell me if you still like her.

Changeseeker, I think that my dad had a broader point, that power determines whom you can abuse and who you must bow to.

also, *in my experience* , all people do not claim to believe in what you said they do.
Only those who have socalized too much would care about such things.

It looks to me like you said that as to make "mr. white bread' look bad.

Now, I don't know this dude, but he has to be pissed at you for trying to set him up like that, saying that everybody not only believes in, but adheres to the morality you speak of, but he doesn't and thus is some sort of villan.

but, then again I could misreading, so,

what's the deal?

Changeseeker said...

Some people boldly treat others with malicious intent, Mulciber, but I maintain that most of them (okay, okay, not all, but most of them) will say they believe in one or the other of the little moralistic platitudes such as I list in the post (even if they don't themselves, in fact, believe that for a minute). Are there others who would not purport to so believe? Of course. But I'm not writing for those humans who would state flatly and without apology that they believe in the practice of powermongering. I don't see them as reachable.

Mr. White Bread is a construct intended to portray those who say they believe in some moral law, but probably don't themselves or at least to typify those who pretend to be asleep (and you can't wake up a person pretending to be asleep). In any case, where I come from in the mountains of Kentucky, we say "Never try to teach a pig to sing. You can't do it and it irritates the pig."

And as far as your dad is concerned, you know him and I don't, of course, but the line you quoted said nothing about bowing.

Mulciber said...



About the platitudes, are you accusing Mr. White bread of doing exactly what you are doing?

The Judeo-Christian tradition, from which you have drawn your examples, is a bleached Sepulcher. Talking about peace, but gaining strength through crushing.

Most Mass movements utilize the platitudes you project onto Mr. whitebread. Their shield is the nobility of their goals, which are to be accomplished by means that do not match the moral character of the goals, but yield to necessity, and end up utilizing immoral efficiencies such as propaganda, anti-democratic mass mobilizations and the rifle, proving that the nobility of the goal was but another piece of PR designed to accommodate the shameless self-interest of the means. And that is because there are no fixed goals, those exist in the mind, there are only means, which are constantly being applied by all parties, creating a mixture different that the goals of any of the groups involved.

I think my dad's point was about power.(gold is only valuable because people think it is, note what some indigenous American cultures thought of gold).

Perhaps Aesop said it better:

The Crow and the Sheep:

"A TROUBLESOME CROW seated herself on the back of a Sheep. The Sheep, much against his will, carried her backward and forward for a long time, and at last said, "If you had treated a dog in this way, you would have had your deserts from his sharp teeth." To this the Crow replied, "I despise the weak and yield to the strong. I know whom I may bully and whom I must flatter; and I thus prolong my life to a good old age."

Mulciber said...


creating a mixture different *than* that *of* the goals of the groups involved.

drydock said...

I thought leftists were against religious fundamentalism. The 911 suicide attackers were religious fascists of color mostlly upper class from Saudi Arabia. Same in Iraq. Most of the suicide attackers are foreign sectarian fascists who target Shia, trade-unionists, gays, women and other progressive forces.

Changeseeker said...

Drydock: I'm referring in this post to suicide bombers in Iraq and Afghanistan who were not in action until the U.S. military took over both countries and occupied them with the apparent intention of being there indefinitely. I didn't write the book.

Further, it appears likely, from what is coming out now, that there were people involved in the 911 disaster that were not even foreign or people of color, so that's a much more complicated issue, in any case. In the end, that incident has turned out to serve the current administration's agenda better than it did anyone else's, hasn't it?

Fundamentalism, by the way, was a term drafted in the late 1800's to refer to Christians who were aggressively proclaiming that their personal interpretations and perspectives were the only right ones. Fundamentalist Muslims are more aggressively opposed to Western values of materialism driven by the capitalist corporate onslaught than anything else. I'm not suggesting that I'm advocating any kind of fundamentalist agenda by any means, but it's good for us to fully understand what the fundamentalist Muslims are re-acting against. They're not anti-Christian so much as they are anti- the capitalist machine that is trying to force the entire world to its knees in the best interests of those who have the power to define--and be personally enriched by that process.