What Can You Say?!
Since all morning news shows seem to be built around offering you a group of friends to wake up with, I suppose I shouldn't be too embarrassed that it works on me too. For me, it's Robin Meade's crew on CNN. Meade anchors the show with a straightforward humanity that I respond to, and the fact that this is one show I've watched since before 9/11/2001 without ever seeing the kind of jingoistic crowing I’ve seen elsewhere says something about the dignity Meade maintains on the show.
All of this is to say, this morning, when I woke up to a profile of the parents of Norris Gaynor, the man beaten to death by three white youth in Fort Lauderdale last week, it felt real to me when Meade went off script to comment on the story. When the video cut back to her, she said, first, almost under her breath, "What can you say to those parents?" And, then, in this sort of out of body, almost stentorian, voice that seemed to take her over, she looked into the camera and repeated, "What can you say?" Her tone was at once desperate and angry and real.
What can you say? That is the question that’s been haunting me all day long. What can you say in a country where human life has grown so cheap that Robert Davis can be beaten within an inch of his life by police in front of CNN's New Orleans offices and Christmas day TV loops featured footage of another New Orleans man shot to death for holding a knife in the face of a battalion of police? What can you say when Pakistani women and children can be blown up by a stinger missile, and it'll all be okay if we can find the DNA of the guy we're looking for? What can you say to the parents of journalists Jill Carroll in this kind of world?
But to the parents of Norris Gaynor, what can you say? What can you say when the only discussion going on about Katrina is whether or not "chocolate city" is a good metaphor? What can you say when Nagin's truly offensive comment, that God sent Katrina because he was angry at how black people are living, has been all but ignored? What do you say in a country where, as Iris DeMent once put it, "the poor have become the enemy"? After all, what's the Federal government's solution to poverty--send poor people off to war?
What can you say when our solution to everything is to blame those who can't fight back and then to accuse them of whining right before we target their throats?