Whimsy and seriousness: Connecting the threads, comparing World War II vs. the Los Angeles riots

May 2, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
May 2, 2015

Since I can’t stop, won’t stop making connections between different things

and since I want to keep my weekly posting tallies as high as is reasonably possible…

I just wanted to point out that one of the subjects of Friday’s post, the 1992 Los Angeles riots…

provided the jumping-off point for Michael Connelly’s 2012 novel, The Black Box

which I reviewed here on this blog in 2014.

I’m endlessly fascinated when things connect to one another in unexpected ways.

On a totally serious note, however: Although, as stated Friday, I remembered the L.A. riots as being a horrifically disturbing event, I had either completely forgotten or never known just how deadly they were. This somewhat confusing page assembled by the Los Angeles Times (which I also linked on Friday) attributed more than 60 deaths to the looting and fires that took place over the five days of civil unrest, including 10 who were shot to death by law enforcement.

At least a third of the deaths have never been officially cleared. (I found that number almost as startling as the overall death toll.) One victim has never even been identified: A white man with brown hair, a mustache and a goatee believed to have been approximately 35 years of age, his body was found inside a burned-out automotive supply store.

Hollywood has produced a seemingly endless stream of movies revolving around World War II and superheroes and science fiction. And yet I can’t off the top of my head name a single film that’s focused on the 1992 riots — perhaps the deadliest episode of civil unrest in the past quarter-century. Isn’t that interesting?

On Friday, referring to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, I wrote, “the otherness of the aggressors made their actions more palatable, in a way.” Perhaps the flip side of this coin is that we’re supremely uncomfortable thinking about why Americans — people who, by nationality, are exactly the same as you and me — would have rioted in Los Angeles, Ferguson, Mo.; and Baltimore. Yet if as a society we continue to indulge that discomfort and avoid considering the issues, we’ll only pave the way for more problems.

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