It’s the sort of thing that makes you consider giving up on humanity.
Traversie, 69, underwent double-bypass surgery at Rapid City Regional Hospital on August 26, 2011. He remained at the hospital until September 8. The day before his discharge, he said, a nurse approached him and asked him to confirm his name and birth date. When she verified who he was, she began to talk.
“‘My conscience won’t let me be,’ she said to me,” Traversie remembered. “She said, ‘It’s bothered me for days. Something was done to you, and I believe it was wrong. I can’t sleep; I keep thinking about what they did to you.’”
Then, Traversie said, she asked him to make her a promise: to find someone with a camera as soon as he got home, and have that person take photos of his stomach and back.
Vernon Traversie couldn’t see what she meant. He’s blind. He had no idea what had been done to him. So he asked his home health aide to take the picture.
“She had a camera, and when she went to take pictures of my abdomen, she said, “Oh my God. I don’t know what they did to you.”
Photos of Traversie’s body show scars from the 2011 surgery and prior procedures. They also show deep, scattered wounds — including what look like three Ks across his abdomen.
“You can see the surgery sutures, and they’re clean,” Traversie said. “But those three letters, two good-sized Ks and one smaller one off to the side, had to be made with some sharp knife or heated instrument. It’s like they branded me.”
There’s quite a bit more to the story, including the problems Traversie has had finding an attorney who would represent the Lakota elder’s interests. Oh, yes, did I mention he’s Native American? Because mutilating him apparently wasn’t enough, whoever did this also had to use Traversie’s own body as a means of proclaiming their racial superiority. Of course, when you don’t have any other sort of superiority….
There are both tragedy and travesty in this story, but there is also a certain irony. The KKK claimed (and probably still do) to be protecting themselves and their country from a degenerate race. They claimed the mantle of heroic defenders.
This crime demonstrates once again what they have always been–cowards hiding behind every advantage they have been handed. There is no heroism in hurting a 69-year-old man with diabetes and a major heart problem. There is no heroism in facing someone who has no idea what you are doing and can never identify you. There is no heroism in choosing a victim who is already at a disadvantage with the powers that be, who is invisible, disbelieved, and disenfranchised.
There is no heroism in anything that has happened here. There are only bullies and cowards and one bewildered old man who knows he deserves better and has trouble believing that another human being would do such a thing to anyone. Frankly, he may have a point there.