Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 25th 2015 Contents C10
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, June 25, 2015
I m looking up at the mantelpiece in a house on
Staten Island, reading a plaque that says "Jesus Never
Fails." Simultaneously, ABC News on the television
is broadcasting rolling coverage of the Charleston
church mass shooting.
I m trying to figure out in what way Jesus was suc-
cessful when Dylann Roof sat amongst worshippers at
the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church for
an hour of bible reading and then killed nine of them.
I m watching Roof s televised bond hearing and the
families saying they forgive him. I m wondering if this
is 1915 in the Deep South or 2015.
I m remembering the funeral of Marcia Henville
when her daughter said, "I forgive the person responsible
for my mother s death. To be a Christian means to
forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the
inexcusable in you."
I m thinking about a Patti Smith concert in London
and her lyric, "Jesus died for somebody s sins but not
I m wondering what twisted train of religious thought
ranks a child s anger at her mother s murderer as an
equal sin to the murder itself.
I m wondering whether the United States, with God
weaved into its constitution, will exercise God s for-
giveness of Dylann Roof through the electric chair or
I m standing at the corner of West 34th Street and
7th Avenue in Manhattan in the evening rush hour.
Humans of every kind are streaming past me. I see a
man holding a sign that says, "Accept Jesus." Next to
him a man holds another sign that says, "Google It:
The Jews Control Everything."
I m wondering how this is possible, not least because
I ve seen more orthodox Jews in this city than any other
in the Western world.
"Does that not infringe race hatred laws?" I ask my
"They all have race hatred laws here?" she quips
I m standing at the intersection of Malcolm X Boule-
vard and Dr Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard, a block
away from Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem, thinking
about forgiveness, civil rights, race riots and Rachel
I m wondering if Dolezal has, by the unexplainable
coincidences of the universe, been saved by the
Charleston killings that have taken the spotlight off
her.I m thinking about a nation that chastises a woman
so passionate about all things black that she rejects her
own biological race to adopt black ethnicity. A nation
that accepts news channel descriptions of the Charleston
shootings as a "tragedy."
I m thinking: tragedies are when a cruise liner sinks
in the ocean---this is terrorism. I m agreeing with Jon
I m watching Bill Maher asking Ann Coulter about
her new book Adios America, which claims 30 million
illegal immigrants are destroying the fabric of American
society: "What about your imaginary friend Jesus
Christ? Would he be ok with this attitude?"
I m hearing Coulter respond: "Of course. You don t
need to take homeless people into your bed to prove
you re a Christian. This is our home."
I m shaking my damn head. I m wondering what
the fabric of American society really means and whether
such a thing even exists.
I m playing over in my head Obama s post-Charleston
message about guns: "At some point, we as a country
will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass
violence does not happen in other advanced countries."
I m thinking, why they eh taking him on?
I m wondering why 20 dead children and six teachers
killed by a man armed with high powered firearms at
Sandy Hook Elementary School wasn t enough to rid
America of every last civilian-owned gun and ban the
gun trade forever.
I m troubled that I was almost arrested by an NYPD
cop for sipping a can of beer outside Yankee Stadium
and that Americans must be 21 to even sip beer, but
can technically legally possess a rifle from
the age of 13 in 30 out of the 50 states.
But look, it s not all bad. Right?
My two weeks in New York City have been
an eye-opener: good and bad.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art on the
edge of Central Park is possibly the finest
museum I ve ever been to. And I ve been to
the Louvre in Paris and the Hermitage in St
I ve seen an installation recreating Frida
Kahlo s garden at the botanical gardens in
The Bronx and a Jean-Michel Basquiat exhi-
bition at the Brooklyn Museum.
But amongst the art and skyscrapers there
is squalor of the human variety and squalid-
ness in the vast urban decay.
The subways, always a good measure of
a city, are home to the mentally insane as
well as sweet people. Every train, every car-
riage has a different vibe.
It s the only major city in the developed
world where the stench of sewage and rotting
garbage is a common odour.
But coming across the calm water on the
Staten Island ferry at sunset, I had an Alicia
Keys moment. I saw New York City from
afar, bathed in a pink-lilac-orange hue and
the lights began to twinkle as it grew darker.
I felt like if I held it at arm s length, I could
understand it better---even learn to love it.
I leave tomorrow with those Empire State
of Mind words in my head: "Let s hear it for
N0ew York," and I know I ll be back in this
crazy concrete jungle someday.
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