Tragedy in Detroit: Pile On or Rise Above?

It’s hard for me to link to such an ill-conceived and cynical work as was produced by Nolan Finley in the Detroit News. It purports to come to grips with the recent tragedy of intense child abuse where two children were found dead in a freezer. I say purports to come to grips with the tragedy because, unlike the Detroiters that rallied over the weekend, Finley was not looking for solutions or healing. He only wanted to wallow, albeit publicly, in ugly events and then piles on with his own bad assumptions and poor conclusions.

In a nutshell, Finley says the abuse that resulted in two dead children and the abuse of their siblings was an inevitable result of children born out of wedlock and living with single mothers in poverty. Somehow, this is especially inevitable in Detroit. He makes an obligatory and utterly disingenuous caveat required of such a baseless generalization by saying not all kids in such situations wind up dead.

It doesn’t take someone with a Masters degree in Social Work to know that child abuse, like elder abuse or domestic violence, crosses all lines of race, class and geography. Neither would it take a clinical psychologist to determine that someone putting kids in the freezer has serious mental illness.

But issues of mental illness and the fact that abuse transcends income mean nothing to someone like Finley, oblivious to his own deep-seated race, class and gender bigotry. Even with the above-mentioned caveat and admission that there are actually societal factors at play, Finley can’t pull himself away from the baseless conclusion of Detroit “inevitably” being the site of such abuse.

I suspect people who came out to the rally live a bit closer to the reality suffered by the family of the abused kids than Finley. They are a lot less prone to pontificate from a place of privilege. So they cry and pray and get involved. A group of Detroiters led by Rev. D. Alexander Bullock and Councilwoman Mary Sheffield had the courage it takes to come together look each other in the eye and say, we can’t tolerate this. That’s real responsibility and bravery.