There comes a time when all Americans of Good Will must take a stand about the dissension now existing in our country. And the first thing that must be said here is that, unless my eyes were deceiving me, the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis policemen was a horrendous and unforgiveable criminal act! But it is hard to conclude that act to have been caused by systematic racism by that city’s police – particularly since the chief of police is African-American. And it is similarly hard to conclude that there is systematic racism in many other cities like Chicago, Detroit, New York and Cleveland that are completely governed by people who profess to be liberals. Nevertheless, we do have a history of programmed racism in our country, such as the abominable way we treated Native Americans, slavery before the Civil War and Jim Crow’s harsh injustices and even lynchings thereafter, mistreatment of Chinese workers building the railroads and, of course, the internment camps for the Japanese-Americans during World War II. These must be fully and openly acknowledged and even taught.
Having said that, much of this friction appears to have developed into today’s political climate of “Us vs. Them,” which is cancerous. Yes, Equal Justice for All is a bedrock principle that must govern our country, but being “politically correct” seemingly has become pervasive. For example, the brilliant economist Thomas Sowell, who happens to be African-American, recently expressed his astonishment that some people were being forced to apologize for things that happened before they were born, but others were not being held accountable for their own looting and arson. Similarly the star professional football quarterback Drew Brees was forced – seemingly at the peril of losing his career – to recant his standing up for the flag of our country when he said that it reminded him of the sacrifices of people like his grandfather during World War II.
Yes, some bad things have happened in this country that was established and has been run by people with defects. But the flag of the United States of America stands for our founding principle of Liberty – and our Constitution actually holds for the proposition that people have the freedom to burn or otherwise desecrate that flag if that is their choice.
So let us learn from George Floyd and – tragically – many others like him who have been wrongly harmed by the police. Let’s respond by insisting that all police officers wear body cameras whenever they interact with the public. (That will result in both the officers and the people they serve being more respectful and accountable.) Let’s also reduce the ability of police unions (a public service union feared by many such as FDR) to keep misbehaving officers from being punished or fired. Let’s insist that police be trained to be more aware of methods to scale down confrontations so that violence is much less likely. (This should include training about how to have more racial and foreign heritage awareness, and also how to detect and deal with people with mental disabilities.) Let’s repeal our failed policy of Drug Prohibition, which has militarized the police and caused them to be seen by many residents in minority communities as being an occupational force. And let’s all do our part by trying to be more sensitive to each other’s views and needs. But, at the same time, let’s also understand that police have truly difficult jobs, and sometimes must face difficult and even dangerous situations that can call for instantaneous decisions to be made at their peril, and take that into account when sitting in judgment about their actions.
In other words, let us all intentionally choose not to go down the road of “We are the Good Guys, and You are Evil.” We are in this as Americans together. We must acknowledge our failings, but also continue to strive to be United in Liberty – and in the Responsibility that goes with it. Polarization may sometimes make good politics, but in the end it harms us all. So let’s all strive to invoke the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King who said: “Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice, drum major for peace (and) drum major for righteousness. . .” That is what America stands for, and that’s what we now must do, be drum majors for the great things our country represents – together! It’s the American Way!
Reminder for the week directly from The Diary of Anne Frank, who would have been 91 years old this past Friday, June 12: “In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.”
Judge Jim Gray (Ret.) Superior Court of Orange County, California 2012 Libertarian Candidate for Vice President
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