Silent Night

Demons are real. Whether you believe in the supernatural or look for a scientific explanation, there’s a reason we are uncomfortable at night . . . why we sometimes wonder about that person we thought we saw out of the corner of our eyes.

Objectively, we know it’s just our imagination. Our brains are hardwired to see a threat even when none exists. But it’s hard to tell yourself that when your car breaks down on that dark road . . . when a loud noise awakens you in your bed . . . when that scratching at the window goes on a bit too long.

If the transition from the sublime to the ridiculous is but a step, as Napoleon said, the same is true of the transition from bliss to horror. The most heartwarming sound in the world can be a child’s laughter—unless you’re alone in a cornfield or something. Something once thought comforting in childhood can quickly become terrifying. And it’s not uncommon to suspect children are seeing things we no longer can.

Six-year-old Logan Tipton was terrified of the dark. He was only able to go to sleep when his mother would sing him the Christmas hymn “Silent Night.” After that, we are told, he would fall right asleep. The song is a musical form of a vigil, humanity and the angels gazing in quiet and joyful awe upon the Christ Child, who will be the pivot of all human history. But you can imagine how in a different context, it’s an ominous song. It can even be chilling, something exploited by schlock films like Silent Night, Deadly Night and the like.

There’s no way to know, and to ask his mother the question would be obscene, but my guess is the song’s lyrics were the last words Tipton ever heard. Ronald Exantus, a Black man from the increasingly Black city of Indianapolis, drove to a different state to break into Tipton’s house. He took a kitchen knife, crept upstairs, and stabbed the boy in the head several times as he slept.  He also injured some of Tipton’s siblings and the boy’s father, who was hurt after he rushed into the room and presumably saw the murder of his son.

The obvious question is why Exantus picked this house or if he even knew who was inside. It seems impossible. Presumably we will find out during the trial, as, incredibly, Exantus was not killed on the spot.

I am tortured by the thought Logan Tipton somehow sensed, perhaps always, that the boogeyman was real, that some unexplainable evil lurked in the dark, and this night it came for him. In prior ages, Exantus would undoubtedly have been called possessed. Today, we are told Exantus is “mentally ill.” Perhaps so, but considering he was apparently a nurse before this crime, the more scientific term is hardly comforting.

The trauma to his family is too horrible to contemplate, but they must take care it not take on a racial dimension. After all, in the eyes of one American judge, even a three-year-old’s residual fear of Blacks following a violent attack is proof of racism and worthy of punishment. In modern America, the murder of a six-year-old boy as he slept is of no wider social significance. The community will mourn, people will shake their heads, and we will go about our business. But there will be no protests, no changes, no outrage. It’s just one of those things.

Another one of those things happened in Exantus’s Indianapolis about a week before Christmas. David Bowman went to college on a soccer scholarship. After that, he ended up working two jobs, at a FedEx Distribution Center at night and as a barber during the day. He went to one of those places most White people are beginning to understand You Just Can’t Go To anymore, a certain gas station. He wanted to cash two winning lottery tickets and collect a modest sum, but dropped the money on the way out. This provided the opportunity for a Black “youth,” 17-year-old Cameron Tibbs, to allegedly shoot him and steal the cash.

Mourning his son, his father, William Bowman, says he is desperate for Indianapolis to bring back that “sense of community” that has vanished and to “stop the violence.” “No one should have to go through what we are going through right now,” he said. To put yourself in this man’s place at this time of this year would be to taste the torments of the damned. But of course, we know what’s driving the sudden spike in violence in Indianapolis. We know what’s destroying real community. And another non-profit vaguely dedicated to doing good is not going to fix it.

The city known as the Crossroads of America suffered another one of those “random” tragedies when a pastor’s wife was also recently murdered. Amanda Blackburn, the pregnant wife of Davey Blackburn, was shot in the head when her husband stepped out to go to the gym. He returned home and supposedly was on the phone for a considerable length of time in the driveway, presumably talking church business. He didn’t know his wife was bleeding to death inside.

And from the moment you saw the headline, you knew what you were going to read. The pregnant mother murdered while her infant son cowered in his room . . . the lurid speculation about rape and sexual assault . . . the dead eyes of the bestial suspects staring out from the mug shots, captured because of their cavalier stupidity in leaving behind clues like a package of Swisher Sweets. But we also know how this story ends.

“I am deciding to love, not hate,” said Davey Blackburn. The pastor of Resonance Church told the press, “What Jesus has been showing us in the process of all of this is that . . . Jesus Christ takes what the world says is a tragedy, what the world says is trash, and in time he makes it beautiful.”

Apparently, his wife’s murder was not really a tragedy. Indeed, someday it will be thought of as beautiful.

When thinking of Amanda Blackburn’s final moments, such gooey pabulum, even when cloaked in plebeian spiritualism, is obscene. We can only speculate in her last seconds whether Amanda Blackburn cried out to be spared or begged for the life of her son. If so, that latter prayer was at least answered, as it is some small mercy that one-year-old Wesley Blackburn survived the horror. I wonder if he will share his father’s opinion about the murder of his mother when he is old enough to understand what happened.

According to the testimony contained in an affidavit, Larry Taylor shot Amanda Blackburn in the back of the head and then leered into her face as her life’s blood poured out. Assuming she was still conscious, Taylor’s grinning face was the last sight of this Christian’s life.

Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?

Of course, according to his faith, Blackburn does have some kind of justification for his infuriating optimism. “I love the fact that now she’s in heaven with Jesus, she sees that end result, because she was always the one that could see the end result . . . in people, before anyone else could,” Blackburn said.

And as much as we can interpret or deconstruct Blackburn’s belief, there can be little doubt that it is very real in his mind. We can at least intellectually understand why Pastor Davey sees (or can conjure up for himself) a larger purpose in the death of his wife and unborn child. I don’t begrudge the comfort it gives him. And we can guess he expects vengeance in the hereafter, if those who destroyed his family do not repent.

What’s less intelligible is the response of the mostly secular European Left after the terrorist attacks in Paris. There were the cheap signaling Facebook statuses . . . the “how does this still happen in the current year” tweets . . . the candles and the guy playing John Lennon’s “Imagine.” We’ve come to expect that.

But there was also Antoine Leiris, a journalist who took the opportunity to tell ISIS he would not give them the “gift” of hate because that is “what you were hoping for.”

Leiris continued: “Responding to hatred with anger would be to fall to the same ignorance that made you the people you are. You want me to be scared, to distrust my fellow citizens, and to sacrifice my liberty for security.” He concludes by boasting that his son, now without his mother, will not hate them either.

Leiris speaks vaguely of a “heaven of free souls” ISIS will never enter. Thus, we still get the happy ending, the tragedy that’s not really a tragedy. Heaven is an Open Society in the sky, I guess. More importantly, this is the kind of logic we see deployed against Donald Trump, whom Hillary Clinton has called “ISIS’s best recruiter.” What ISIS really wants us to do, apparently, is to stop letting Muslims into the West. To “hate” an enemy is to give in to what the enemy wants.

We are carefully instructed to avoid making the “Friend/Enemy” distinction when it comes to violence in the name of the Prophet. We aren’t allowed to notice patterns when it comes to who is committing these “random” murders in what used to be civilized American cities. If it’s a Black guy, it’s a “random” attack. If it’s a Muslim, it’s a response to anti-Muslim prejudice. And just as the killers apparently had no agency, so are the victims not martyrs or even really victims. They are simply people who had something bad happen to them, like those lost to a tornado or tidal wave.

Life can, most certainly, be random and cruel. But there was nothing “random” about the deaths of Logan Tipton, David Bowman, Amanda Blackburn, or the victims in Paris. Their deaths were the inevitable result of decades of policies that either ignored the importance of race or sought to redeem a “racist” White culture by deliberately importing non-White races.

America used to do things like fund space travel. Now technologies and resources of the last remaining "superpower" are used for the social uplift of Ronald Exantus, Cameron Tibbs, Larry Taylor, and their ilk.

Those who die as a result of these policies are dehumanized in death. Perhaps those who mourn them truly believe this all happened for a good reason; perhaps not. But underlying these sentiments is fear. Part of this fear is practical.

Yet there is also something else . . . a more primordial terror that, contra Christian Lander, maybe there is such a thing as an unhappy ending for White people. All people don’t want the same thing. Violence, struggle, identity, and death aren’t going to go away just because the TV tells us they will. And you can come up with whatever beliefs about the afterlife or the divine you want, but your simple belief won’t do much to change the temporal reality of the here and now.

It’s a scary thought. Better to believe your loved one’s death was “random” or that there’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. Better to believe that fighting would only cause more problems.

Of course, this logic does not apply to criminals or terrorists who are not part of the Coalition of the Oppressed. There will never be a college professor sympathetically trying to understand the “root causes” of Bob Matthews and The Order. No journalist will caution us that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” when speaking of Timothy McVeigh. And there won’t be a “security expert” appearing on MSNBC to tell us that the absolute worst thing we could do after Dylann Roof is to take down Confederate flags, because then it looks like we are declaring war on all White Southerners.

We’re allowed to destroy them. If it’s a White guy, the only root cause is “hate.” And we have nothing to “hate” except “hate” itself.

While even an imagined insult to non-Whites is cause for sweeping crusades, actual White victims are of nothing more than temporary, local significance. As those White victims pile up, as the stories become sickeningly familiar, even the most gut-wrenching tragedies become banal after concepts like anger or vengeance are banished.

Like modern Christmas, mourning the victims of these crimes has become almost commercialized, a parody of a meaningful ritual. The sad emoticons, the #prayers, the protective stupidity about how this could have happened. It all seems so terribly cheap. We deliberately choose to remain ignorant about what is happening, even when the truth is right in front of us.

For the Last Man, as for our most primitive ancestors, the threat to our families and children is a mystery rather than something intelligible or preventable. It’s the demon in the dark, the malevolent spirit in the woods, the unexplained noise in the night. It could get you at any moment. There’s nothing you can do.

And so he remains silent, hoping that it will pass him by this time. Sure, he could go out and look for it, even vanquish it. But maybe it’s just safer to stay inside and be really quiet. If he don’t look at it, he can pretend it doesn’t exist.

Besides even if something horrible happens, he can always shut his eyes. Maybe, just maybe, when he wakes up, everything will be ok.