The Columbian June 17 online story reported, “Rodney King found dead at 47.” There are some who myopically wish that a more worthy subject had been at the center of the Los Angeles riots instead of Rodney King, a career criminal and born loser with a yardlong rap sheet. But those who criticize fail to recognize that it was the symbolism of the incident, rather than the character of the participants that harbored its explosive potency.
King’s published beating was the spark that would ignite a long, fomenting sense of discontent, of growing anger and increasing hatred pressing, like boiling magma, against the nearest opening to vent. And then the dormant mountain blew its top, spit violently and melted all that snow that settled over time; white, and powdery, and possibly oppressive to the darkness just below.
Of course, nothing really changes afterwards. New snow is settling already, nearly covering the traces of the recent, violent past. Soon again, it will be beautiful, indifferent and blithe — unfortunate for the minority who rioted with genuine outrage at inequality and joyful prospects for the great majority of opportunists forever seeking out any ostensibly legitimate excuse to plunder and destroy.
Michael E. White