Unless you’ve been napping under a bridge with Tommy the Troll for the last week (and if you have been, please take a shower- troll’s leave a residual smell that is difficult to eradicate) you will have noticed a sudden lurch forward in the crisis that is the current state of the United States of America. While I call it a “sudden” lurch forward, it is only sudden in the same way that a pot of boiling water requires a lot of energy input in advance of the “sudden” move to an active state of boiling. In fact, this crisis is decades in the making, but we now find ourselves in what seems to be new territory, at least with respect to this generation.
Of course, like all crises, there are numerous things that have placed us where we are at the moment, but there is always a short list of the triggers that move one from one state to another. The proverbial straw on the camel, so to speak. The current straw is the recent police shootings of minorities in Minnesota and Louisiana. The pile of straw beneath these things can be traced back quite a ways, but include previous police/minority incidents as well as the President’s and Attorney General’s own statements that, at the very least, are not supportive of police and at worst are aiding in the fomenting of the anger of an already tense relationship between cops and minorities in many areas.
Clearly, this is an unfortunate situation that calls for prayer, and an honest discussion about race, police brutality, disparate treatment of minorities, guns, and an overall lack of respect for the dignity of human life.
So, let’s talk about what this “honest discussion” looks like. Because you are seeing calls for an honest discussion about these topics all over the place. I completely agree with those words, but am entirely annoyed with what they usually mean from those who utter them. In most cases I am seeing these words spoken by liberal politicians or journalists who probably think they are calling for an open discussion, but what they are really saying is “people who have been disagreeing with us are wrong, have been lying to yourselves, and we now need to have an honest discussion about how you are wrong and you need to adopt our ideas.”
Let me provide one annoying example. In an article by Mike Lupica, Why in America do we have to choose between caring about Philando Castile and Dallas cops? he tells us where the hate in America is coming from: “Terror, we are told constantly, is the biggest threat to America. It is. The terror of race and class and hatred, of divisiveness and ugly rhetoric and too many guns. The terror of too many whites hating blacks, or browns, too many blacks hating policemen, too many Republicans hating Democrats, and hating this President most of all. Donald Trump talks about “America First.” Okay. But which America?”
Mike Lupica, in my opinion, has been a liberal tool for some time (I mean that in the most charitable way possible). True to form, this is not the advent of a truly honest discussion. It is one half of an honest discussion. Further, it is the easy half of the discussion, because the other half is the half where people start throwing out all sorts of hateful terms (ironically, they consider themselves loving and tolerant people while using terms like “bigoted”,”unchristian”,”unloving”,”hate-filled” and “intolerant”). In general, we have a problem of the soul. This takes many forms. The most evident and clearly evil form are the things that come from outright hate. But hate is kind of like that boiling point in the heating process. Leading up to that we have pride, greed, jealousy, selfishness, and so on. These are the things that kill us inside until it is no more possible to love anyone else but ourselves. And when there is no more love, you’re left with hate. But let’s even give a pass on that line of thinking and for the moment support the idea that the issue we have is simply one of hate.
“The terror of race and class and hatred.” OK, I don’t immediately have an issue with this because it’s general. I hate using the term “class” in our country because we are supposed to be a classless society. The poorest among us are supposed to have every opportunity to not be poor. Interestingly, when many speak of the “middle class” and how they want to be there for them, they are really being demeaning. There is no “class.” I may be perfectly happy staying at a particular income level or status of wealth. But if I choose to change that situation, I don’t need a politician tell me they are there to help. Stay out of my way – that’s how you can help. An honest discussion about “class” divisions must start with whether or not our policies are unnecessarily creating an actual class system in our society, and keeping people there through a state of dependency on the government simply in order to maintain that status. Put another way, we have moved from an economic and political structure that encourages free movement from one status to another (in either direction) to a structure that encourages a state of constancy – where you are is where you’ll be. You won’t move up, but we’ll make sure you don’t move down. Because we love you. Thank you, government.
Next: “Ugly rhetoric.” I’ll agree on this, though I look at it more as a symptom of the ailment than the ailment itself. I’m also guessing that Mr. Lupica would disagree with me on what is considered “ugly” and who the primary perpetrators are. And that’s OK, as long as he’s willing to listen to me in an honest discussion and show a willingness to look in the mirror. I fully admit I can be acerbic at times. Will he? And what’s a healthy dose of that and what is too far?
“Too many guns.” And there you have it. An “honest” discussion must clearly include the premise that we have too many guns. Lupica has an opinion, I have an opinion. We do not agree on this. But to many, a discussion on guns can only be “honest” if you start off agreeing with them on this point. Now, having said that, gun supporters should always be prepared to evaluate what is going on. A fair question is: would the gun control law being proposed in any way have affected crime rates, the results of crimes, etc. for the better? If incontrovertible proof can be shown in the affirmative, we should accept that some things may be a good idea. But if this cannot be shown, they need to be able to accept that Liberty trumps unproven ideology. Or if we decide to try something and it doesn’t work, we need to stop the insanity that reversing course is a bad thing. This goes for nearly every policy, not just gun control.
“The terror of too many whites hating blacks, or browns, too many blacks hating policemen:” Notice what he did here? Whites are racist, and blacks hate authority. This is dishonest. And while it puts some psuedo-blame on blacks for hating in an attempt to look fair and balanced, it really isn’t at all. One is hating because of color and once is hating because of abuse. While hate is always bad, the one is purely evil while the other is at least understandable.
Most whites aren’t racist, but it’s a valid part of the discussion to talk about how to change the hearts and minds of those who are. But a real honest discussion would also be to address the hatred in much of the black community towards whites. Not just cops, but whites. We cannot get past this issue until that is honestly addressed as well. If all whites are to carry the burden of particular whites who have caused past and current harm in the minority community, then this is an inconsistent standard for how whites are to view the black community. Both should be able to forgive and move on. But too often, the very suggestion that one side do this is considered racist. It is not – it’s Christian. We are to forgive and love. This is not limited to one race or another. It is not even limited to the relative grievances one group may have over the other. If forgiveness can only come after an assessment that each group has now been harmed equivalently, this is unworkable and insane.
The other part of this is that we need an honest discussion about both sides of the police/minority question. It is too simply put as institutional racism among police officers. I am not saying there isn’t some racism among the population of cops – I’m sure there is. But the issue nobody wants to have an honest discussion about is why that is. Most of the “racism” is probably more accurately described as “tension” or “increased anxiety.” Human beings are not robots. We have emotional responses to things that are reflective of past experiences (past conditions). If a white police officer has, over the years, had much more difficult and dangerous experiences with black individuals than he has had with white individuals (on balance), it is almost certain that this will create a different psychological and physiological response when dealing with a white person versus a black person in similar situations. Is this fair? Well, yes and no. It is based on experience, so in that way it’s fair. But it may not be fair to a particular case with a particular person. And this is the main issue. It is probably very real that some police officers overreact in some situations, and it can lead to tragic results. It is probably very real that one of the reasons for this overreaction is due to the color of the skin of the person they are dealing with. This isn’t good, it’s not right, and if a person has reached a point where they can’t control their emotions then they need to be dismissed. But was it intentional and racist? I’d say probably not in the strict sense. But even if it was, part of the honest discussion needs to be about the responsibility of the minority community that led to that officer being in that state of anxiety in the first place.
Finally, my favorite: “too many Republicans hating Democrats, and hating this President most of all.” Yes, Mr. Lupica. Republicans hate Democrats and this President. But no mention of Democrats hating Republicans. Clearly, that is because Democrats are all about love and togetherness. Seriously, how difficult would it have been to be a little balanced here and say “Too many Republicans and Democrats hating each other.” At least that has a minimal guise of balance. This is why I just can’t trust half the people calling for an honest discussion on these issues. Is it true that too many take politics and political differences to a personal level, and spew hate? That’s absolutely true. And it’s absolutely true for both sides. And it seems to get worse all the time. But good grief, no President was more hated by the opposition party than George W Bush. I live in Wisconsin, and I can tell you the words Democrats use when talking about Scott Walker are horrific. Both sides need to acknowledge when they are moving too far in this direction.
To finish up on the point I started with and moving past this one example of hypocrisy, the next time someone suggests we have an honest discussion about division in America, ask them any or all of the following questions:
- Are you willing to discuss how abortion and euthanasia devalue human life and has helped lead us to where we are today – that people are more willing to do harm to others because they don’t see the dignity of the human person?
- Are you willing to discuss how the continued attack on religion and religious people – on our faith itself – has harmed our ability to bring meaning to why it is inherently wrong to bring harm to another person or their property – regardless of who they are and what they have?
- Are you willing to revisit the premise that divisions between races is a white problem only? That the minority communities bear some responsibility in how people – including police – see them and treat them?
- Are you willing to tie any talk about gun control to real evaluations on how proposed actions would actually have changed the outcome of past events?
- Are you willing to look at the actual results of anti-poverty governmental spending programs and make an honest assessment on whether or not we are better or worse off because of them? Or if some of them are causing more harm than good?
- Are you willing to accept that differences of opinion on the best way to handle matters – especially regarding the poor – does not mean one side or the other cares more or less? Can we start with the premise that we both care, we just have a different vision on how best to help those people?
America was once a Christian nation. It is not anymore. If looking for the most succinct summary of the root of our current issues, that is it. We lost our way, and our leadership is now floundering to find our way back to greatness, but they want to do it with God. Without an honest reflection on that side of things, and true acts of repentance, the wisdom of man will simply not prevail.
Many are starting to pray the Rosary or the Chaplet daily for our nation. I am not as consistent on this as I should be, but I need to get better. We all do.