One of the pundits/commentators on Sunday made a point that on the surface America should be content this summer -- unemployment is down, gas is relatively cheap and the economy is doing well, our military is not as fully-engaged in anything overseas as it has been for the past decade.
But that is not the case, the word used by several columnists and commentators is that the recent shootings of both the black men by the police officers and the five officers by a sniper has caused an “unraveling.” The massive protests in Atlanta over police shootings has certainly shown that the nation is unsettled.
At the heart of the domestic tension is a growing split between those who favor Black Lives Matter versus those who are for Blue (police) Lives Matters, as though you have to choose a side. This is where things get frightening when it becomes an us versus them standoff within our own borders.
It should go without saying that both Black and Blue lives matter. Neither side should have to publicly express their desire to live without fear, but unfortunately that is not the case.
It would be unimaginable what would happen to a community that couldn’t depend on their police force. They are the backbone of what keeps us safe in our homes and on our streets everyday and most people know this. Despite occasional nasty remarks, Americans of good character all recognize law enforcement officers are here to protect and serve.
Which is not to say we should ever set anyone on a pedestal so high, their actions can’t be questioned. If the shootings in Baton Rouge and Minnesota are found to be to be criminal, the officers need to face what the law deems appropriate.
In both cases, the preliminary information warrants further investigation and dialogue. And worse still, it is hard to keep track of all the incidents where black men have died following routine encounters with the police. Recent statistics from a Harvard researcher shows blacks are actually no more likely to be killed than whites with police shootings but the same statistics show a significantly higher rate of blacks being on the receiving end of non-lethal use of police force.
In Dallas, what occurred seems painfully clear: A twisted angry black man cowardly gunned down five police officers and wounded others who were protecting the people protesting police shootings.
But let’s keep in mind that the shooting of the officers in Dallas is not the work of any organized movement, any more than the mass shooting last June, which left nine dead in a Charleston church, is representative of white southern movements.
In Atlanta with more than 10,000 protestors on the streets, there have been very few arrests and mostly for people blocking roadways. People want to be heard and exercise their First Amendment rights peacefully.
But as these events show, it just takes one nut or one bad/poorly trained policeman to “unravel” a nation.
Part of this constant tension lying barely under the surface of modern America is fuelled by the rhetoric that comes in a never-ending cascade on social media and the airwaves. Expressing fear that the country is on the verge of a collapse or about to be taken over gives rise to extreme action and justifies outrageous acts.
Political debate has always contained grand hyperbole and calls for action, but it has never been so pervasive as it is today, reinforcing beliefs that the country is being destroyed and we need immediate action to save our republic.
Looking at comments on news stories and social media, one wonders if our president were assassinated by domestic terrorists would it be universally condemned? Would there be gloating among some groups?
When you have sick-minds and feed them a constant diet of the government/police-is-coming-to-get-you rhetoric, it’s no surprise someone finally snaps.
Criticizing a government is fine and political firebrands a constant part of American history. But at the end of the day, we must be able to behave civilly towards each other.
Elsewhere in this issue, you’ll find words of wisdom from a man turning 100 years old. He thought we should all “keep cool.” While he may have been referring to the weather, his advice resonants with the recent events in this country - let’s all be cool.