Everyone is talking about the inexcusable murder of George Floyd by several bad cops, and everyone is wringing their hands about the violence and rioting occurring in so many American cities.
An important fact that seems to get overlooked by most people is that everyone in this country actually agrees on the key issues:
- What happened to George Floyd was an inexcusable travesty;
- The cops involved need to be held fully accountable under the law;
- Black and white people are all fellow Americans and share what Bruce Springsteen previously and eloquently described as our “American skin”;
- Excessive force by police is never acceptable (and most cops agree, do their jobs honorably, and don’t want to be associated with the few bad ones);
- Significant problems remain in our country and culture that unjustly disadvantage black people and that need to be addressed and rectified; and
- These issues can no longer be kicked down the road for others to deal with.
I haven’t seen a single person of any race or background who has expressed anything but full support for every one of these assertions.
I also haven’t found anyone who disagrees with this: Peaceful protest is an inherent part of our American culture and identity. The people who have been protesting peacefully are great Americans carrying on a great and important American tradition.
But most people are responding to these events by expressing resentment or engaging in virtue signaling on social media. This makes us feel good, but it accomplishes nothing. In fact, it is counterproductive.
Standing with those who were repulsed by the abhorrent murder of George Floyd doesn’t make you a hero. It makes you an American because all Americans share that view.
The people engaged in violence and rioting are not trying to bring about positive change. Some are leftist militants who are using terrorist tactics to try to tear down our society and increase division in our country. Others are just criminal thugs who are exploiting this national tragedy to enrich themselves.
Standing with those who are destroying businesses by the thousands and attempting to murder police officers who never did anything but try to protect their communities doesn’t make you a hero. It makes you an accomplice. There is no excuse for supporting or defending terrorism.
The silver lining to all of these tragic events is that it has resulted in an unprecedented unity of purpose among all Americans that provides an opportunity for meaningful progress.
We need to seize this incredible opportunity. We need to recognize that these problems are now universally acknowledged and jump on this unprecedented chance for all of us to come together to develop real and meaningful solutions to these problems.
I have written before about how most white people, especially those of us who are financially comfortable, need to make a conscious effort to try to understand the experiences of black people in our country and the unfair obstacles that they still face. The responses at the time were of agreement, but the readers then moved on to the next headline. Nothing meaningful came of it.
My colleague, Jay Sheppard, more recently wrote eloquently about how we all need to start listening to each other and respectfully consider each other’s views. As he said, it’s not about winning the point. It’s about making progress in our shared experience as Americans.
Because I, like you, love this country, I’m willing to be a part of developing meaningful solutions to that end. I’m willing to talk to anyone anywhere about how we can do that, and I’m willing to take off my gloves (figuratively for now) and get to work to make that happen.
If you are too, let me know.