The media coverage of the 23 year-old Geneva woman who was apprehended in Canada before she and some co-conspirators could shoot up a mall on Valentine’s Day has officially moved into the patently prurient. And if you dare challenge the local papers to justify this particular form of pornography, they’ll inevitably claim they’re simply trying to provide the “answers” their readers so desperately long to hear.
But the truth is, they only manage to come up with the answers their readers want to hear because these editors and reporters aren’t adding to or advancing this story in any way.
And what we want to hear is, “Here are all the gory details that clearly prove this young woman was born with the kind of defect that doomed her from the start. There is nothing that could’ve prevent her descent into darkness and thus, once again, we good Christians bear absolutely no responsibility for failing to be our sister’s keeper.”
Then we all get to heave a collective sigh of self-righteous relief, safe in the knowledge that nothing like this could never happen to our child.
So now everyone’s convinced themselves that this young woman’s preoccupation with National Socialism and white power, which apparently started at Geneva High School, was actually the underlying disease and not just one of the symptoms.
To those folks I would say, “Have you noticed that she’s not white?” And isn’t it kinda strange for someone of mixed race to espouse white power? It’s the kind of blatant and bizarre disconnect that comedian Dave Chappelle nailed in his brilliant character, Clayton Bigsby, the blind black white supremacist.
C’mon! Isn’t it obvious that something else is going on here?
Perhaps the real answers to this young woman’s psychological and spiritual demise involve something more akin to an intense self-loathing, a desperate attempt to internalize some distasteful external experiences, and then a means of reflecting those experiences back to gain attention.
Again, as we already explored in a previous post, the west side of Geneva, Illinois is not the place to live if you’re different in any way. A friend and I talked about this over the weekend and, despite working here for 12 long years, she still feels like an outsider.
But we don’t want to hear those kinds of explanations because they make us very uncomfortable. They force us to take responsibility for the least of our brothers and we realize there’s no guarantee that that this won’t happen to one of our children.
Please let me repeat that, despite whatever external events help shape, we are all ultimately responsible for our own lives. But if we’re truly seeking answers for this Geneva woman’s now obvious decline, then this becomes a necessary exercise.
What bothers far more than the insipid media coverage, are all the former classmates, teachers, and professors who’ve suddenly come flying forward with all sorts of ex post facto insights that basically conclude, “We knew she was gonna try to do something like this all along!”
One former classmate said, “The school [Geneva High School] should have known but no one stepped in and did anything.” While I will certainly admit it was bizarre that her “nightmare Nazi” drawing made it into the yearbook, what I have yet to hear from any of these supposed friends and mentors is, “Her behavior bothered me so much that I went to a counselor/administrator/social worker to have it addressed.”
So somebody else shoulda known, but none of these fine folks who did know bear any responsibility whatsoever?
And Coe College professor Charles Aukema is a real piece of work. Not only did he violate FERPA laws just to get is 15 minutes of fame, but despite going into great detail about this young woman’ bizarre schoolwork, he fails to mention any attempt to get the school to intervene.
So here are the answers we all so desperately crave.
A very introverted mixed-race young woman had difficulty fitting into a community that doesn’t always tolerate differences. Perhaps more fragile than most, she tried to deal with her isolation in ways that would likely generate a lot of attention. But when they didn’t, she decided to strike back at an existence that, in her mind, had failed her.
And all along the way, the people who could’ve raised that red flag failed to do so which allowed her to sink even deeper into a self-inflicted abyss. Again, misfits don’t magically pop into being, we allow them to happen.
Shame on us.