Never say that the Scissorheads have no influence!
After the mass murder of children in Uvalde, Tex., America desperately needs to bring the true horror of mass shootings home — through pictures. We need an Emmett Till moment.
I am surprised that when I make this reference, multiple generations of Americans, White and Black, know what I mean. For those who don’t: Emmett Till was a 14-year-old Black youth who dared to say something sassy to an adult White woman in Mississippi in August 1955. For this “crime,” Till was abducted, tortured, shot in the head and dumped in a river by two White men who were later acquitted by an all-White Mississippi jury.
At Till’s funeral, his mother insisted on an open casket for her son, to in effect say to the world, “Look what they did to my boy.” Photographs of Till’s body, dressed in a suit but with a bloated, mutilated head and face, became an international spectacle, burned into the conscience of anyone who saw them. The images helped spark the civil rights movement, including the Montgomery bus boycott that began three months later in December 1955. Time magazine called the image of Till’s body one of the 100 “most influential photos of all time.”
I lack the moral standing to tell a parent to accept and approve, for the greater good, the public display of photos of his or her dead child. Only they can judge the additional weight that doing so would place on them, at a time when they are already struggling with unimaginable grief. Nor do I suggest the release of any images in particular. But something graphic is required to awaken the public to the real horror of these repeated tragedies. Robb Elementary School in Uvalde is a crime scene. If there were a case to go to trial, the prosecution would have to present publicly the shocking evidence of guilt. Put another way: Why must innocent schoolchildren, for the rest of their lives, carry the vivid memories of the executions of their teachers and classmates, while federal and state lawmakers (and the adult constituents who elect them) are spared?
And it goes on from there, and is worth your time to read and consider.