February 20, 2013
I found the language and attitude of the (Buzz) article “Let the Vilification Begin” extremely disturbing. It is true that the Northeast as well as other parts of KC have problems with homelessness, meth addiction and addiction in general. However, the phrase, “We could bus them to your doorstep at 110th and North Oak and see how you like ’em,” reminds me of the rhetoric that hate groups use to talk about people they find undesirable and want to dispose of.
This article that should be labeled as an editorial but is not, calls the homeless “vagrants” which insinuates criminality and lack of social worth. The attitude of this article drives the problem of addiction and homelessness and shows clearly a lack of understanding and empathy. But worst of all, the article tries to de-humanize the people who are suffering the most.
I live very close to these homeless camps. I know some of the homeless by name who hang out on Independence Avenue. I see how cold they get standing out there in the elements with no real place of comfort to go.
They are not all meth addicts, and those that are addicts need real help and healing. Yet, the article espouses fear and criminalization. When I see these homeless people so frequently at the traffic light by the highway I do not avert my glance in discomfort. I speak with them. I wish them a good day. I tell them my name. I offer them a kind word and sometimes food, both of which they eat hungrily.
These people are people who have problems that all parts of society are responsible for, you, the editor and myself included. Many of these homeless people are veterans. Some of these people are women and men who have been sexually abused and then succumb to addiction. But most importantly, these are people…people who need help even if other’s perceive them as lowering property values. As a resident of Northeast Kansas City I am very disappointed in this article and I certainly do not share in the attitude it puts forth.
Tamar Jaffe Reyes
(Editor’s note: “Let the vilification begin” appeared on the Opinion Page and is part of the weekly column, “Buzz Bunny the Newshound.”)