By Leonard Pitts, Miami Herald

So now, Jonah has received a lesson in How Things Are. He is 19 months old.

Sitting on his mother’s lap on a recent Delta Airlines flight on approach to Atlanta, he was doing what babies tend to do on airplanes, particularly airplanes that are changing altitude. He was crying his little head off.

Shut that “nigger baby” up.

“The first kick I took was when I hit the ground.” Bruce Springsteen, “Born in the U.S.A.” (Photo by Purestock)

“The first kick I took was when I hit the ground.” Bruce Springsteen, “Born in the U.S.A.” (Photo by Purestock)

Those were the alleged words of the alleged man in the next seat just before he allegedly slapped the baby with an open palm, leaving a scratch below his right eye. The alleged man, 60-year-old Joe Rickey Hundley of Hayden, Idaho, denies this sequence of events and pleaded not guilty last week to a charge of simple assault. But at least one witness corroborates the story, as told by Jonah’s mother, 33-year-old Jessica Bennett. She and her husband are white. Their adopted son is African American.

Hundley’s attorney, Marcia Shein, promises her client is no racist. In so doing, she embraces the cognitive dissonance which so often afflicts Americans when they are confronted with the ponderous idiocy of tribal hatred….

We are rightfully outraged that someone would call a baby by a racial slur and then strike him.

"We tend to forget that not every slap is physical — nor is every injury they inflict. There is violence and there is violence — emotional, verbal, intellectual, monetary...," writes Leonard Pitts

“We tend to forget that not every slap is physical — nor is every injury they inflict. There is violence and there is violence — emotional, verbal, intellectual, monetary…,” writes Leonard Pitts

But it is a matter of statistical fact that Jonah, from the moment he was born, stood an excellent chance of being struck in other ways. Of being failed by his school. Of being steered into the criminal injustice system as if prison was his natural habitat. Of being denied housing. Of being denied healthcare. Of being denied loans. Of being denied work. Of being denied his very individuality. There is also an excellent chance — indeed, a virtual certainty — most of us will respond to this with a collective shrug, assuming we see it at all; such things tend to become socio-cultural wallpaper when they are not happening to you.

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