Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Please Support CounterPunch’s Annual Fund Drive
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We only ask you once a year, but when we ask we mean it. So, please, help as much as you can. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

My Weekend With Bernie (Goetz)

“That sounds like something Bernie would do. This is Bernie,” I’d said to Charles, years ago. He shook his head no.

Before we met, Charles lived in NYC, where he got his PhD. That’s how he knew Bernie, both at NYU in the department of nuclear engineering. My husband collected characters, and Bernie was one. Charles had plenty of Bernie stories but disagreed with my realization, couldn’t fathom that one of his friends could do what struck me as obvious.

A few years after Charles and I married and were living in Kentucky, Bernie visited. He drove a rental car from Manhattan to Lexington, on his way somewhere. He stayed a few hours and had dinner with us.

When Charles joined the staff at Johns Hopkins, we moved to Baltimore. Bernie rented a car and drove down from Manhattan. He did this twice, staying several hours each time. First trip, he related a story—that he’d been mugged and injured by three teens in a subway station. Only one of the kids was apprehended. Bernie was angry his assailant was charged with criminal mischief, not for the attack and attempted robbery, but for tearing Bernie’s clothing. Said he’d bought a gun. Then he told me about another attempted robbery, when a Black teenager suddenly was in his face, demanding money. He pulled out the gun and pointed it at the kid, who dropped to his knees and begged for his life. Bernie described him, the pleading. He let the young man go.

Bernie tried to convince me to purchase a gun. He said I needed to be armed when I ran. And he suggested a specific gun, one so small it would fit in an eyeglass case. I told him I wasn’t interested. I have a visual right now of Bernie and me, just the two of us, standing in the kitchen of the first Baltimore residence, a rental, having the conversation. This was the early ‘80s. Son J was about eight, and H was a possibility, a hope.

Not long after this visit, the Subway Vigilante story was THE NEWS. That’s when I told Charles Bernie was the man who’d shot four teenagers. Days later, Bernie turned himself in, and his photograph was front-page at our door.

I don’t remember exactly when Bernie visited again but son H was far more than a maybe, five or six years old by then. And Bernie had served a prison sentence for illegal possession of a firearm. He arrived with a woman. She was a police officer, very pretty and nice. We sat on our row house’s balcony. I remember not wanting to talk about the shooting in H’s presence.

Bernie never came to our place in Nashville, where we lived for eight years. Then we moved to Manhattan. On a hot Saturday morning, Charles and I saw Bernie at the Union Square Farmer’s Market. We chatted briefly. Bernie mentioned his aspiration to be mayor. That was the last time we saw or spoke with him.

The Zimmerman acquittal delivered Bernie memories.

And triggered another: I was in a children’s clothing store in Baltimore’s Roland Park area, shopping for H. When I was at the counter, paying for my purchase, I saw alarm on the cashier’s face. I turned to see a Black couple entering with a child. The man wore a full-length fur and held the little boy’s hand. “We have to watch them. They’re here to steal,” the cashier said to another.

I spoke up, “Because they’re Black? Probably, most of your shoplifters are women like me. White and privileged.”

She began to apologize. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”

This is the way so many perceive anyone outside their set—anyone not among the group with whom they identify. And it’s one of the reasons we’re not in the streets, obstructing traffic, blocking commerce, to end the murder of those we dehumanize, those whose countries are in chaos courtesy of US Empire. Another name for our superiority complex is white exceptionalism.

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Baltimore. Email: missybeat@gmail.com

More articles by:

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

October 16, 2018
Gregory Elich
Diplomatic Deadlock: Can U.S.-North Korea Diplomacy Survive Maximum Pressure?
Rob Seimetz
Talking About Death While In Decadence
Kent Paterson
Fifty Years of Mexican October
Robert Fantina
Trump, Iran and Sanctions
Greg Macdougall
Indigenous Suicide in Canada
Kenneth Surin
On Reading the Diaries of Tony Benn, Britain’s Greatest Labour Politician
Thomas Knapp
Facebook Meddles in the 2018 Midterm Elections
Muhammad Othman
Khashoggi and Demetracopoulos
Gerry Brown
Lies, Damn Lies & Statistics: How the US Weaponizes Them to Accuse  China of Debt Trap Diplomacy
Christian Ingo Lenz Dunker – Peter Lehman
The Brazilian Presidential Elections and “The Rules of The Game”
Robert Fisk
What a Forgotten Shipwreck in the Irish Sea Can Tell Us About Brexit
Martin Billheimer
Here Cochise Everywhere
David Swanson
Humanitarian Bombs
Dean Baker
The Federal Reserve is Not a Church
October 15, 2018
Rob Urie
Climate Crisis is Upon Us
Conn Hallinan
Syria’s Chessboard
Patrick Cockburn
The Saudi Atrocities in Yemen are a Worse Story Than the Disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi
Sheldon Richman
Trump’s Middle East Delusions Persist
Justin T. McPhee
Uberrima Fides? Witness K, East Timor and the Economy of Espionage
Tom Gill
Spain’s Left Turn?
Jeff Cohen
Few Democrats Offer Alternatives to War-Weary Voters
Dean Baker
Corporate Debt Scares
Gary Leupp
The Khashoggi Affair and and the Anti-Iran Axis
Russell Mokhiber
Sarah Chayes Calls on West Virginians to Write In No More Manchins
Clark T. Scott
Acclimated Behaviorisms
Kary Love
Evolution of Religion
Colin Todhunter
From GM Potatoes to Glyphosate: Regulatory Delinquency and Toxic Agriculture
Binoy Kampmark
Evacuating Nauru: Médecins Sans Frontières and Australia’s Refugee Dilemma
Marvin Kitman
The Kitman Plan for Peace in the Middle East: Two Proposals
Weekend Edition
October 12, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Becky Grant
My History with Alexander Cockburn and The Financial Future of CounterPunch
Paul Street
For Popular Sovereignty, Beyond Absurdity
Nick Pemberton
The Colonial Pantsuit: What We Didn’t Want to Know About Africa
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Summer of No Return
Jeff Halper
Choices Made: From Zionist Settler Colonialism to Decolonization
Gary Leupp
The Khashoggi Incident: Trump’s Special Relationship With the Saudi Monarchy
Andrew Levine
Democrats: Boost, Knock, Enthuse
Barbara Kantz
The Deportation Crisis: Report From Long Island
Doug Johnson
Nate Silver and 538’s Measurable 3.5% Democratic Bias and the 2018 House Race
Gwen Carr
This Stops Today: Seeking Justice for My Son Eric Garner
Robert Hunziker
Peak Carbon Emissions By 2020, or Else!
Arshad Khan
Is There Hope on a World Warming at 1.5 Degrees Celsius?
David Rosen
Packing the Supreme Court in the 21stCentury
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Threats of Death and Destruction
Joel A. Harrison
The Case for a Non-Profit Single-Payer Healthcare System
Ramzy Baroud
That Single Line of Blood: Nassir al-Mosabeh and Mohammed al-Durrah
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail