Friday, January 4, 2013

Polticizing Rape

In Six Omens for the New Year, Guy Somerset links to this tragic story of a woman who, in his words, "would rather be raped than be racist" — Liberal Activist Goes to Haiti - Gets Raped - Blames White Men. In her words, she "was held on a rooftop in Haiti and raped repeatedly by one of the very men who I had spent the bulk of my life advocating for." What follows would be tragicomic, if there could ever be anything comic about rape, which of course there cannot:
    It hurt. The experience was almost more than I could bear. I begged him to stop. Afraid he would kill me, I pleaded with him to honor my commitment to Haiti, to him as a brother in the mutual struggle for an end to our common oppression, but to no avail. He didn’t care that I was a Malcolm X scholar. He told me to shut up, and then slapped me in the face. Overpowered, I gave up fighting halfway through the night.
I may not be "a Malcolm X scholar," but I read his so-called autobiography and read and listened to many of his speeches in my formative years, and my understanding of Al-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz is that he would be unimpressed by her decision go "to Haiti after the earthquake to empower Haitians to self-sufficiency." His Organization of Afro-American Unity, after all, "pushed for black control of every aspect of the black community." He did not mention the necessity of white liberals to "empower" blacks to "self-sufficiency." (This also reminds me of Walker Percy's narrator in Love in the Ruins who when confronted by a gun-wielding black separatist and accused of not "really think[ing] we got what it takes," says, "You've had Liberia for a long time.... You've had Haiti even longer." Ouch.)

Back to the liberal rape-victim, she continues, "Not once did I envision myself becoming a receptacle for a Black man’s rage at the white world, but that is what I became." Now, of course, this poor woman is trying to make sense of the horror she suffered within the framework of her impoverished and deficient worldview. It is this worldview, not her, that we must counter.

Was "a Black man’s rage at the white world" behind the crime, or mere lust? St. Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologica tells us that "rape is a species of lust" — Question 154. The parts of Lust. in conrast, Eldridge Cleaver in Soul On Ice "acknowledges committing acts of rape, stating that he initially raped black women in the ghetto 'for practice' and then embarked on the serial rape of white women[,] ... describ[ing] these crimes as politically inspired, motivated by a genuine conviction that the rape of white women was 'an insurrectionary act.'" One wonders, however, whether he trying to make sense of the crimes he has committed, just as the victim subject of this post seems to be trying makes sense of the crime committed against her. We can't know, but Occam's Razor seems to lead us to agree with the Angelic Doctor the crime accounted in this post was "a species of lust" rather than "an insurrectionary act." In fact, any motive beyond lust, by adding anger or the thirst for revenge, would only serve to compound the sinfulness of an already grievous sin, not mitigate it.

There are of course greater questions here. The victim's understanding of herself as "a receptacle for a Black man’s rage at the white world" comes from the feminist idea, like Cleaver's, that rape is a political act, never "a species of lust." I guess they mean rape is an expression of "patriarchy," which they consider evil. And since "a Black man’s rage at the white world" is at least understandable to the liberal worldview, black-on-white rape would have a lesser degree of culpability. Our victim said in her account: "While I take issue with my brother’s behavior, I’m grateful for the experience." Can we imagine her calling her rapist "brother" had he been white?

Thus, the worst possible species of rape would be white-on-black rape. The Criminal Victimization in the United States, 2004, Statistical Tables (#42), however, informs us the 139,900 rapes and sexual assaults committed against white women, 8.3% of the offenders where black, whereas of 39,300 rapes and sexual assaults committed against black women, 0.0%, meaning less than 10 nationwide, of the offenders where white. Should we celebrate that the most heinous form of rape has all but disappeared from our country?

Occam's Razor again cuts through all this tortured logic to reveal rape as a heinous crime deserving the harshest penalty. Necklacing is a popular penalty in Haiti and back on the Mother Continent, but I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

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