In an image that’s been circulating around Facebook, Rudy Eugene, the “Miami zombie,” has been made into a joke designed to insult both African-Americans and those of us who advocate for racial tolerance and equality.
Below a picture of Eugene, the image says, “This man was a victim of racial prejudice and bigotry. Eating another person is a widespread and ancient tradition in Africa. He was shot only because the narrow minded cops failed to recognize the cultural diversity of our community.”
The attack was horrible and bloody. It’s doubtful anyone was defending Eugene, who was an apparent habitual drug user and might have been high on bath salts, which have violent side effects. He also had a history of violence.
Who was Rudy Eugene? According to friends, he was a good Christian. He attended church. He sang in the choir. He even carried a Bible with him.
Eugene was born in Haiti, not Africa. His girlfriend thought he was under a voodoo curse, despite not being Haitian herself. Others thought he was “battling the devil.”
People who are posting the above image, seem to be trying to draw similarities between the “zombie” case and the Trayvon Martin case. Obviously, there are no similarities, other than skin color. On the day Martin was killed, he was doing nothing but walking through a neighborhood with Skittles and an Arizona Iced Tea. Eugene, on the other hand, appeared to have suffered a psychotic episode which cause extreme violent behavior. Some, including Eugene’s stepfather, are saying that the police should have tased him instead, but few people, if any, believe he should have been treated as anything but a criminal. As a compassionate liberal, I do wonder if perhaps Eugene’s victim would still have a face if we had adequate mental health systems.
As for cultural diversity, it is those on the extreme right who believe that religion supersedes all laws, not liberals. It’s the extreme right who want to make laws from dogma. It is extreme right who want to make victims of those who don’t fit their idea of Biblical law. In fact, 2011 has the dubious title of having the highest number of anti-gay murders in any year in history. 30 people were killed last year because they were gay or presumed gay. 30 people were victims of someone’s religious beliefs. At least 30 people last year thought that their religious beliefs were more important than the laws that help us live in harmony.
Inevitably, there will be people who say, “lighten up, it’s just a joke.” To those people, I say, imagine if the shoe were on the other foot. Imagine that instead the joke being made about his skin color, it was instead made about his Christianity. Of course, no sane Christian would advocate for Eugene’s actions, just as very few Christians would advocate killing someone who happens to be gay. The vast majority of Christians, like the vast majority of African-Americans are peaceful, law-abiding people. A joke like that would be called out of bounds; rightfully so.