Thursday, June 4, 2020

Thoughts On The Protests

Update 6-7-2020:  a version of this article just appeared Sunday 7 June in the Waco Tribune-Herald,  as a letter to the editor on the op-ed page.
Protest is as American as apple pie.  Looting and arson are not. 

Sometimes the distinction is blurred,  rendering this not a black-or-white,  this-or-that question.  Example: the Boston tea party also involved the destruction of private property.  It would be wise to remember that inconvenient little fact.

What is true today about these protests was also true in the 1960's and early 1970's.  There are (and were) the honest protesters,  there are (and were) the opportunists who want to use the chaos for criminal behavior,  and there are (and were) extremists (both left and right) who have their own agendas to take advantage of the chaos.

It is entirely too seductively easy to tar the honest protesters with rightful anger about criminal opportunists and violent political extremists. That mistaken identity and misplaced blame for the violence is usually what politically-motivated extremists want.  It would be well to remember that!

It is also entirely too easy for honest protesters to stray into wrongful behavior in the heat of the moment.  That last is the fundamental human characteristic that also makes lynch mobs so frequent in our history.  It would be well to remember that,  too.

Just food for thought,  guys,  from someone who saw this movie once before.

What we really need is twofold: 

(1) We need to address the underlying issue that is the reason for the current protests.  In this case,  that is structural racism still built into our society and our institutions,  up to and including lethal levels.  The anger being expressed about it is quite real,  and has been pent-up and festering since the Civil War.

(2) We need some way to distinguish in-the-field and real-time the honest protesters from the opportunistic criminals and the extremists promoting violence.  And,  we need a way to deal with the opportunistic criminals and violent extremists on-the-spot,  but without taking out inappropriate rage upon the honest protesters! 

I don't yet know how to do that second thing reliably.  But figure it out,  we must. 

The first thing requires that we examine our collective selves and root out the racism therein.  And quit teaching it to the next generations.  Simple,  but obviously very hard to do.  Or we would not still need to do this. 

1 comment:

  1. There will never be a substantial reduction in xenophobia between blacks and whites in this country until African Americans are, finally, fully integrated into the social and economic fabric of American society.

    Since African Americans only comprise about 13% of the total US population, its still rather surprising that this has been so difficult for American society to do.

    Yet,even in the 21st century, most African American children still go to poorly funded public schools that are predominantly black in population.

    This really has to come to an end in America!