We do not fathom the power of innocent blood crying out from the ground until years later. The grievous force of such injustice reverberates in the lives of those whose grief runs deeper than the evil that inflicted it.
Terrorism is counterproductive. A terrorist who inflicts, by the planting of bombs, violence and death on innocent victims might as well shoot himself, and his cause, in the foot. The extreme iniquity of such irresponsible acts serves ultimately to harden the resolve of surviving victims whose lives were affected by the atrocity.
I realized this today in a new way while listening to Amy Goodman interview Danny Glover on the radio, on Democracy Now.
They mentioned Angela Davis, and the fact that she had been raised in that volatile atmosphere of Birmingham in 1963, when local racists had set a bomb beneath the 16th Street Baptist Church. The bomb had killed four innocent children–little girls attending church.
Little did those reprobate terrorists know, but their irrational atrocity cut a deep slice of potently productive grief into the 9–year-old soul of nearby resident Condoleeza Rice, whose friend Denise McNair was killed in the bombing.
Our former Secretary of State of the US later had this to say about the tragic incident:
“I remember the bombing of that Sunday School at 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1963. I did not see it happen, but I heard it happen, and I felt it happen, just a few blocks away at my father’s church. It is a sound that I will never forget, that will forever reverberate in my ears. That bomb took the lives of four young girls, including my friend and playmate, Denise McNair. The crime was calculated to suck the hope out of young lives, bury their aspirations. But those fears were not propelled forward, those terrorists failed.”
– Condoleezza Rice, Commencement 2004, Vanderbilt University, May 13, 2004
I lifted that quote from Wikipedia.
Ms. Rice’s richly productive life attests to the truth that the destructive efforts of KKK terrorists had not deterred a tender-hearted 9-year-old girl from rising to great achievements. In spite of the heavy deck of hate and discrimination stacked against her, Condi went on to overcome the evil that had killed her childhood playmate. Later, as a scholar, concert pianist, and Secretary of State of the United States of America, she disproved, convincingly, the errant prejudicial irrationale of her community’s attackers.
Terrorism is counterproductive to the cause of the terrorist.
And unpredictable. Even as a bomb’s deathly remains and its victims cannot be predicted before the explosion, neither can the effects of such bloody deep wounds on the heart of a community and its diverse members.
While young Condi was later motivated to excel mightily in scholarship and diplomacy, another former resident, Angela Davis, of that Birmingham neighborhood charted a very different course
to overcome the injustice of Jim Crow. Angela was ten years older than Condoleeza; she was studying in Paris when she recognized the names of young Birmingham victims in a newspaper. Her stringent understanding of that putrid white supremecist tide was propelling her toward radicalism, advocacy of violent resistance, and ultimately a life of eloquent speaking and teaching, the aim of which was to educate others about the evils of racism.
Angela and Condi were two very different women, with powerfully contrasting paths in this life. But as disparate as their two testimonies are, both lives are persuasive evidence that death-spewing terrorism is counterproductive to the cause of the terrorist.
But the cry of innocent blood is powerfuly dynamic in the lives of the survivors, and just as unpredictable as the bomb itself.