OpinionOpinion | The Killing of Eliza Fletcher Is a...

Opinion | The Killing of Eliza Fletcher Is a Tragedy, Not a Morality Play


I’m not saying these aren’t worthy topics for public consideration. Memphis, like many cities, has an issue with violent crime. 5 days after Ms. Fletcher’s abduction, one other Memphis man went on a capturing rampage, killing 4 folks and wounding three extra, a minimum of a part of which he livestreamed on Fb. However the response on-line to that crime has been way more muted — possibly as a result of mass shootings are ubiquitous now or as a result of it takes the kidnapping of a beloved kindergarten instructor to catch folks’s consideration. Or possibly it’s simply that individuals exterior Tennessee don’t care all that a lot about Memphis in the long run. (For the document, violent crime there for the primary six months of this 12 months was down 6.1 % from the identical interval in 2021.)

There are sophisticated causes for the violence in any American metropolis, however none of them have something to do with the ethical character of the overwhelming majority of the individuals who reside there. Definitely they don’t have anything to do with the race of the individuals who reside there. When conservatives within the nationwide media wax nostalgic for a time earlier than the civil rights period, a time once they say it was safer to reside in an enormous metropolis like Memphis, it’s price remembering that your complete Delta area has an extended, horrible historical past of violence. For many years, a kidnapping that resulted in homicide was referred to as a lynching.

We have to work regularly towards making our cities much less harmful and our legal justice system extra simply. We want information protection of all the pieces — not simply crime — to be utterly correct and utterly honest, significantly on a topic as delicate as race. God is aware of we have to discover a technique to make it safer for all girls to maneuver by the world at any time of day.

Any dialogue of such topics is sure to develop into heated, and that’s correctly. Open public discourse is a privilege of residing in a democracy. However whereas this type of dialog is suitable in a dialogue of public coverage, it isn’t in any respect acceptable within the dialogue of an harmless one that misplaced her life to a seemingly random act of violence. Tragedies will at all times garner public curiosity. That’s simply human nature. However tragedies ought to by no means be diminished to tweets and speaking factors or changed into a story to justify a political agenda.

Maybe this, too, is just human nature. Possibly we flip these horrible tales into allegories, distant symbols of one thing that doesn’t actually contact us, as a result of we discover them so dislocating. It’s simpler to say, “She ought to have recognized higher than to run at midnight” — or “She’d be alive immediately if solely liberals weren’t delicate on crime” or “That is why everybody ought to carry a gun” or “We have to take our cities again by deadly drive” or another drained trope of our weary age — than it’s to face the rather more horrifying reality that nothing we do will ever completely assure our security. Evil exists. Random issues occur. Horrible, insufferable, irrevocable issues occur, and typically we’ve no potential technique to keep away from them.

Ms. Fletcher leaves behind a grieving group and two younger youngsters who will develop up with out their mom. She didn’t reside and die for instance any level. She was not the consultant of any cultural ideology or the symbol of any political stance. By all accounts, she was an individual who cherished her household, cherished her church and cherished her work, a devoted athlete who discovered a little bit of time for herself within the midst of a full life by getting up early for a run. Absolutely that’s greater than sufficient for any beloved, irreplaceable life to imply.

Margaret Renkl, a contributing Opinion author, is the writer of the books “Graceland, at Final: Notes on Hope and Heartache From the American South” and “Late Migrations: A Pure Historical past of Love and Loss.”

The Instances is dedicated to publishing a variety of letters to the editor. We’d like to listen to what you concentrate on this or any of our articles. Listed here are some ideas. And right here’s our electronic mail: letters@nytimes.com.

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