You may or may not believe it, but this is a true story.
On July 24, 2015, R_____ and J_____, family name withheld, were loitering in the dusty parking lot behind a townhouse complex when they saw a heap of recyclables perched against a back entrance. Their original inclination was to push the stack over, but the resultant mess was not enough to keep their interest. Paper flyers flapped over the lot. R_____ smashed a bottle that he had been drinking from, and used it to refract the sun into the stack of papers. It is presumed that they stood there for quite some time before the recyclables began to smoke, and for the fire to catch.
Given the proximity of the stack to the back entrance of the townhouse complex, it did not take long for the papers to ignite the structure. Flames reared and smoke poured. R_____ and J_____ leapt onto their bikes and rode to the adjacent park to watch the townhouses burn. People exited the doors, screaming. It was not long before sirens were heard.
The townhouses were engulfed by flame. As it was the middle of that particular July 24th day, you would assume that everyone was awake and could escape the fire. But this is not the case. A Somali family was in the far unit, and for whatever reason could not escape. Three adults and five children burned in the fire.
Overheard in a shopping mall, Savannah, Georgia:
“Do you have change for a ten? I want to buy some tennis balls.”
“What are you going to do with tennis balls? You don’t play tennis that I know about.”
“Well you don’t know it all, do you?”
“Here then, fine. Say, did you hear about that thing in Chicago?”
“The burning? Sure. Done on purpose. Domestic terrorism they’re calling it. Targeted killing.”
“What’s this world doing to itself? How come these people do this stuff and can’t just leave us alone?”
“Suppose they want to tell us how to live. Make their rules in our country. They’re taking over, you know.”
“That’s so. Come on now. Let’s buy your tennis balls. I want to see what you do with them. Going to follow you around all day until you prove to me that you have a use for them.”
Excerpt from an editorial, Chicago Tribune, July 28th 2015:
…but the most remarkable thing about this act of terrorism – of how it is specifically intended to scare the rest of us – is how blatantly the townhouse complex was targeted. This was a carefully-orchestrated killing, make no mistake about it. How can we let this continue? How can we let these people scare us off our own soil? These so-called white folks are a plague. They kill indiscriminately. They try to impose their views on the rest of us. And they won’t stop – this is just the beginning. White people are by far and away the largest criminal demographic in this country. They represent the largest segment of incarcerated individuals. They are the most likely to be alcoholics and child molesters. Yet we let them do whatever they want – even elect their own people. And what do our leaders do about it? Two days after the townhouse burning, our President was seen giving a speech in California about the economy. The attendees at this function? White people. Dozens and dozens of white people, as though what happened in our city doesn’t matter. As though it didn’t happen, and these white folks aren’t responsible…
A blue unmarked car slides up to a parked van on an empty stretch of asphalt. A man in sunglasses gets out, and opens the rear door to the van – inside are two people, staring out the tinted window at a church across the street. It’s Sunday morning, August 2nd, 2015. The church parking lot is full of cars.
“What are they doing in there?” asks the man in sunglasses.
The woman holding the listening device takes out an earphone. “Praying. Hard to make out the words, but they’re talking about righteousness and fearing God.”
Sunglass-man shakes his head. “This isn’t the only one, you know. This is happening all over the country, right now. These people are organized. They’re connected. And they don’t give a shit if we know about it, which is why they congregate like this, in the middle of the day right out where we can see them. They’re not afraid of us.”
The woman sits back. “Now they’re talking about Chicago, the burning. They don’t sound very upset about it. Talking about R_____ and J_____, calling them two lost misguided souls… I’m getting this on tape.”
“Good,” says the man. He surveys the church. It’s shining in the sunlight, and he thinks that it must have been recently-painted. If he listens closely enough, he can hear the singing inside, a strange song that sends a tremor through his veins. He takes his sunglasses off.
There’s no point in hiding anymore. There is no hiding from this.
“Oh shit,” said the husband, peering out the window. A moving truck was pulling into the house next door. He was staring at it through the shutters. “Come look at this!”
The wife sprinted down the stairs, “What?”
He held the shutter open. “The new family next door. You won’t believe this. You just won’t.”
She swore. “Oh my god… white people. Really? They had to move here? We just bought this house two years ago, this is going to sink the property value!”
He shook his head. “It should be okay as long as more don’t move in. I’m more worried about the smell. These white people like to cook animals outside. Stinks up the neighborhood. And they like to walk around without shirts on, and throw beer cans into the bushes. They make a mess everywhere.”
“Have to make sure we don’t let our kids play with them,” she returned. “People like this are always trying to convert children over to their religion. Put the shutters down – they’re looking over!”
The living room was plunged into shadow. Together, they peeked through the edge of the blinds as the truck doors opened and furniture starting moving into the house. Everything was a drab cream colour. It all looked cheap under the sunlight, as though it had been passed down from hand to hand over many generations. Out it came, in a long line that just seemed never to end.
R_____ and J_____, as the record shows, were arrested in a convenience store while buying sodas. They were led into the back of a police cruiser, at which point the extent of their crime was exposed. They were in jail that night. A procession of lawyers were in to see them, and phone calls flooded the police station as various interested parties attempted to have the boys released. This was not to happen.
Two weeks later, a trial began. The burning of a Somali family was clearly a hate crime, an affront to the country, an indicative crime attributed to the very character of these two boys: their middle-class upbringing, their reasonable education, even the nice bicycles that they had used to flee the scene of the incident. As the surge of support for these two wayward boys rose, so did the feeling of antipathy and anger towards what these boys represented: the burgeoning, increasingly-powerful race of white people that were essentially taking over the country. A very specific call went up from the people: remove them, it said. Send them away. Find a new place. They are not from here. They don’t belong. If we let them stay, that will be the end.
And so R_____ and J_____, after their trial was finished and the nature of their terrorism confirmed, were sent away on an airplane. No one knows where. There is no record of the place that would accept people like this. More to the point, it doesn’t matter. There is a world out there, beyond the confines of this country. Anywhere is better than here.
But it is the aftermath with which we are most concerned. We sent two boys away to pay for their crimes, and to try to send a message that terrorism will not be tolerated. But what does that change? Go out tomorrow. Find an intersection. A bus stop. A park or a mall. Look around you. See who is there. What do you see? They are everywhere, these people. And there are more of them every day. Look at their crimes – these are the people who buy most of the drugs consumed in this country. Molest the most children. Own most of the guns. Rape the most college girls. Commit most white-collar crimes, responsible for the majority of crime-related revenues. But somehow we think this is okay. Somehow we don’t take to the streets to protest this. No, we’re fine with it. And maybe we’re so fine with it, so consumed with not acknowledging what is going on right under our noses, that we’ll be fine right up until the point where these people finally take over, and we lose this country. Forever.
***the pieces are not related specifically, but I thank Matticus for the inspiration for this post. Check out an excellent piece at:
79 thoughts on “Anywhere is Better than Here: A True Tale of Domestic Terror”
Those dastardly whites. I say we keep a sharp eye on them – they could be trouble in the future – mark my words.
Wouldn’t we be better off, Paul?
We are everywhere. We are educated. We are armed. And you are damn right we want everyone to act, look, smell, fuck the same way we do…
I like your spin on this and will admit that my shortcomings as a human took me out of the story one or twice until I could change my view and find the thread again. Which was the point, right? To make us think differently, to show us a different view of the world?
There’s acceptable crime and unacceptable crime. We choose which we are okay with, in the end. But maybe the problem is not exactly what we think, huh? It’s possible, I suppose…
OMG Trent, I’m not sure I can pass by a mirror again….
Cause even there, I see white people.
Wait a minute… you’re always portrayed as a big black X… I thought you were totally with me on this one…
This may come as a shock, but I don’t actually look like a big black X. But I’m still with you, except I wouldn’t single out the white people – I think people in general are the problem.
Well I think the point is that singling out anyone is just kind of ridiculous. Foreigners, immigrants, white trash trailer park homies… all equally crazy at times. But also equally good at times – right?
Exactly. But keeping track between good and crazy of various groups is so annoying, so it’s just easier to hate everyone equally.
I just keep a ridiculously big ledger with a humongo-eraser at hand all the time…
Americans can be like this too: http://kindnessblog.com/2015/08/07/track-inspectors-good-deed-goes-viral/
I think it was white people I was going after, rather than Americans…
I’m white but I’m German background so a little brown. Wait…German gah!
I LOVE Germans! I like to think of them as kind of beige though…
We also have good taste in cake and well all food. Mmm Sauerkraut! How do you feel about French? I have some of that in me too ha! Beige is good.
French is pretty good, cause French people smell like croissants, and croissants are yummy.
Oh yeah they are!
Oh dear. I’m white and don’t even tan.
Haunting piece, Trend.
Elyse. For you, I’m conferring honorary non-white status.
Well, I adopted a Hispanic child and have a black nephew by marriage. So that works!
You’re all right, dude. We will let you into Canada to have beers with us. By the way, I did not know you had an adopted child… don’t know how I missed that.
I have an adopted man, actually. He’s 24! Or perhaps he is an adopted bear because he lives in the man cave in our basement.
He was born in Chile. Good guy, my Jacob.
Very cool, Elyse.
Thank you for this. Although fiction, it tells a true story. Sadly, one that those who really need to hear the message are incapable of listening.
About eight years ago I started a novel about a string of terrorist attacks in the United States. As with all of my recent novel attempts I got about halfway there and stalled out. It sits on my hard drive still. Back then, the terrorist group was Muslim. One of the things that has caused the stall is that I recognized it would work better if the terrorists were homegrown, white Americans. I believe there are groups of whackos in this country that pose far more of a risk than Muslim terrorists. Now I just need to get back to it.
Um, hi – do we know each other? You show up as Someone. Much as I love Someone, your voice sounds very familiar – please forgive my ignorance, I just don’t see a name, but kind of intrigued by this novel of yours.
Did I ever tell you my initials are R and J? And I’m (white)? OMG…Did I do this? Yikes
Oh my gosh SB… sorry, just playing with fun generalizations… I think they’re easy to make but often hard to swallow. Kind of like brussel sprouts.
Very true, about the hard to swallow, but can’t agree with ya on the sprouts….love em roasted. Squash…let’s say squash. And I wasn’t really sure what to say on this one…I went and read Matticus’ also. Same thing…makes me cringe, but then, if it were all about blacks, or muslims, or little green men, would also make me cringe. I hate that this kind of thinking/doing is part of the fabric of our world…makes me sick really. And lately…seems we cannot get away from it because it’s a never ending vicious circle…mainly because no matter the change, no matter that it’s even for good, it’s never enough. No matter what the white guy says…he’s never been black so really can’t relate (at least the blacks don’t think so)…no matter what the black guy says…the whites think he’s taking things too personally (after all…HE wasn’t a slave and blah blah)….where’s the end line? where’s the new start line? who and where is the person we can push out of the circle to break the chain so it stops? Arghhhhhhhhhhhhh….I want world peace. There…it’s out of the bag, I’m a former miss america and that was always the answer….world peace. Please?
World peace would be wonderful…. let’s make the start line right here SB. Right now. If it’s got to start somewhere, why can’t we start it this moment, with these desires?
It has started then…we live in a time when the world has never been smaller; the internet has made us all neighbors who sit on each other’s front porches discussing the good, the bad, and the ugly. A lot of smart, talented, motivated, passionate, civic minded folks have come up on my porch, and I know the same is true for most of us. But rather than pick up a placard with the catch phrase of the day, we pick up a pen (or cozy up to a keyboard) and put it out there, in black and white, for comment and discussion. Individually, we toss in our pebbles and create ripples…maybe together, we can throw in a boulder and create waves instead?
Why not? Has to start somewhere. Why not on a virtual porch alongside the virtual river? I love the concept, the idea. Figure it out one tiny bit at a time.
We could organize a front porch World Peace Summit…thinkers, drinkers, Indians, chiefs, movers, and shakers…all walks of life, all corners of the globe…
Sweetest idea ever… I’m volunteering to host the first summit.
I knew you would! And I’m volunteering to be your gal friday 🙂 I’ll keep the coolers full and the porch clean.
I like the different scenarios and your commentary here, and I interpreted it all as more of a statement on the absurdity of generalizing any one group with respect to crime, specifically terrorism, which appears to be your focus. At least I hope I’m correct in interpreting you correctly! You’ve definitely given us a lot to think about.
Absurdity is right Kelly… but generalizing is nice and easy. Makes us not have to think. Not thinking is fun.
And dangerous as you pointed out. Thanks for sharing your passion in these areas with your readers – it comes through in your words and has a positive effect.
Interesting commentary, Trent. Those white people are out of control. There’s a lot of truth there. Different standards applied to to different groups all the time. Will we ever know how to behave any differently? Even if the groups change? Probably not so long as there is so much strife and economic disparity. I think a lot of it has to do with power and greed. There! There it all is. Great piece.
Power and greed, that sounds about right… but the thesis is this: would North American life be better if we deported all the white people? Let’s take our self-serving interests out of the question for a moment… sort of an interesting thought.
You mean, send us all to an island like they did with Australia? Dang…we’d need good (and plenty) engineers to build super poop treatment facilities with all the crap that would come outta a scenario like that!
I say we develop some sort of airborne skin dye…and of course a global delivery system…then one day, we’d all be the same color (except hair and eyes) and see what happens then.
Oh…just had a flash thought…we’d have colonies of blue eyes (let there be ‘the help’) red heads (let there be ‘law’ ) brown eyes (let there be ‘politics’..full of it if ya know what I mean) blondes (ummmm…well, let’s call them the entertainment class?)….I think we are inherently driven to form cliques and will ultimately end up with a class/caste system anyway.
Are we doomed? Does history teach us nothing? Damn, not even on the island yet and it’s already a bust.
Hey I know some good engineers! Airborne skin dye to make us the same… I love that idea. Although I think we’ll still find something to differentiate us. An accent or an eye colour. A twitch or a limp… I agree, we’re driven to form separation, which is weird, cause last I saw, we’re sort of in this together. Always have been. Always will be. One big dysfunctional human family. Doomed? I doubt it. I think we’re ultimately too smart. Too compassionate. Too good. We can let a few rotten apples curdle the whiskey I suppose, but you know, I’ll drink it anyway. It’s not a bust SB! Swig one for me and I’ll down a couple in return, and we’ll sort this all out.
Cheers then…here’s to sorting it all out.
I get it and it’s a very interesting idea. What I’m saying is that if there is always rich and poor, things might likely be the same. There will always be a group that is underserved or however you want to think about that. You might like this book:
It was recommended by my political scientist husband. It looks fascinating. I want to read it now.
The Black Death eh… interesting.
Undeserved or undeprivileged is sort of my point, but not really. I’m more interested in how easily we villify others but don’t turn that lense on ourselves.
This makes me think of the movie “Crash” – only the racism hits pretty much every group you can think of. This is eerily realistic.
Sometimes Dale, I wish I were living in a movie… could just pop out and tell the director how everything should end. Wouldn’t that be fantastic?
Oh hell yeah!
The prison statistics are wrong Trent, by a very long way. It’s still an interesting viewpoint, though
They weren’t meant to be right… I thought that was obvious, Duncan. Lies and half-truths are part of the “truth-telling” exercise we see all the time. Anything to justify an opinion, right???
You should see some of my posts about market research and the blatant bias in them to produce a political message. Like this one, for example
Dude, Singhs do not rule the roost in India… that’s a Punjabi name, not a Hindu one. Many more Hindus there… but I take your meaning.
Last stats I saw had Singhs top of the heap, ahead of Patels, which surprised me more than somewhat. 😉
I think no one would be more surprised than the Patels…
I did a recheck, and Sinbhs are cock of the walk. As it happens, I’d have expected Chang, but hey ho.. Not that it matters, since my figure massaging works anyway if Patel really is the most common surname in England. I doubt this, given the newspaper that made the claim, but my argument holds
I think mine does too? I don’t even remember what my argument was!
My wife and I are breeders. Contributors to the problem. People like us should be sterilized. We’re only making a bad situation worse.
I think you’re far away not part of the problem, Mark.
Nor is my sprog, I would hope.
I do not see many Mad Max references out there… I really hope you’re referring to Fury Road somehow… bugnuts insane movie of epic proportions.
Rotten interiors can live inside all colour exteriors. No one ethnicity has the market cornered on assholery. Great read, Trent.
And they do indeed, and it’s not the colour that makes the rot. It’s the person. Assholery and douchebaggery, Nancy – there’s lots to go around, in every race. Well said.
So much to go around. Too much. Sigh.
As a redhead, you can imagine I am whiter than most. I practically glow in the dark so it’s kind of hard to hide the fact. As a child we were brought up to believe we were all the same…well, that’s not true…there was no dialogue about being the same. We just were. I had friends that were black. One of my favourite friends had downs. There were lots of religions in our area. We all played together as one. It wasn’t until after my Mom died and we went into foster care that I “learned” we were all different and weren’t supposed to trust, like, love or play with the other ones. I’d say we are all equally responsible for the prejudices we create about people who are not like us in some way. This piece made me think about a lot of things. Most of which made me a bit sick to my stomach.
It may not sound like it but that last bit is a compliment. 😉
Makes me sick too… I just wonder what it would look like if our prejudices – which to us maybe don’t look like prejudices – were suddenly turned on us. It’ll never happen, but it’s a form of reality.
Great piece, haunting and deep.
Thanks Elizabeth, really.
Trent, I am glad I stopped by today… People choose where or in whom they want to see malice. Conveniently (and sadly) it excludes their own backyards.
Nadia! I’m glad you stopped by too. Yes, it’s our backyards where we lose our ability to be critical. Maybe this is human nature. I hope not though.
How are you doing? I just tried your blog, noticed that you’re off-line. Whatever you’re up to, hope you’re doing well – you’re definitely missed.
Thanks Trent! I’ve been a bad bad blogger – I am getting back into my blogging ways by catching up on my fave bloggers. I have missed it here…hope to be posting soon!
Hope to see you around Nadia!
Thank you… for adding to my already tremendous load of white guilt…
Wait… you’re white????
I’m adopted… so who can say…
Labels, labels and labels. Ever wonder how different life would be without them? Good morning, Trent. Dig your style.
Thanks Audra – but ignore this one. Read the next one if you have a minute. It gets as close to crazy me as anything does.
well first and foremost, their names should have been PB___ and J___… lol anyway, great way to shove it right back into old whitey’s face. That would be me too, but you’re absolutely right. Whites, the 20 percent left that claim to be white, when we all know they got a slave momma somewhere in their history, are the reason behind so much greed and evil in our country. If I owned a gun, I’d shoot everyone in congress…the house, etc., and that would be just my flash bang beginning…lol… corporate heads would blow…. and then I’d clean out the pervs and rapists… who are disproportionately white males!!!
great story, bro! high five!! lol
wow, just read this one. thought you just posted it. lol so first off… their names should have been PB___ and J___… lol and you’re totally right, old man tighty whitey is the greediest, evilest and most racist problem on our planet. Good thing there’s only about 20 percent left, who think their all white, even with a slave momma in their ancestry, still they think they are. lol the good news is most are in their 70’s and 80’s now, and soon they’ll all be dead!!! 🙂 you should repost this…. it’s a nice wakeup call!