Blame government, law enforcement, or a lack of nuclear families, but this year is all on the American public.
As a general rule around here, I try to stick with news and issues in a somewhat detached way. Occasionally, it’s obvious that I feel strongly about something, but I’m not a fan of using the editorial as a bully pulpit and I never have been. After a year of multiple protests, violence against police, and questionable (or downright wrong) police involved shootings, I’m tired and thankful. Tired of seeing the news of these events repeatedly, and thankful that those headlines didn’t hit close to home – my family photos still have quite a few people with badges.
I’m not arrogant enough to say that I know what it is like to live in fear of the police, but I do recognize that is a fact for many law-abiding citizens in this country. It shouldn’t be that way, but I’m also not sure how to fix that. On the radical ends, there are calls to disarm police nationwide, and militarize officers more than we already have. Like anything else, neither of those are acceptable. It’s also not acceptable to continue the way we have been, justifying higher rates of incarceration among minorities and lower income people regardless of race by saying that they just commit more crimes.
No. They just end up getting arrested more. They lack the resources to make it through the legal system without ending up accepting guilt for something just to get it over with. And, they are targeted by laws that have more to do with keeping “undesirable” people behind bars, as opposed to keeping real threats to society under lock and key. In case you’re confused, yes I did just suggest that the claims of systemic racism and elitism are real.
We can’t solve a problem until we admit it is a problem, period.
Right now, the denial is taking the shape of overt racism and hatred, and that is unacceptable.
Black Lives Matter is the direct result of “law and order” policies that have been created for the sole purpose of making certain people “feel” safe. They aren’t made safer by these policies, and the only thing many of these people felt threatened by in the first place is the mere existence of people they consider less-than-human.
The fact remains that this is a vicious cycle, and all it is doing is creating a permanent class of people, with generational economic problems. Incarcerated parents of today have children who are likely to end up with similar problems. This should be common sense, but for those who insist on empirical evidence of the obvious, we have proof. The problems we are having now with violence in the streets, protests, and targeting of law enforcement officers are all related to this issue of shuffling large numbers of people into prisons for reasons other than public safety. Many of them start out as non-violent offenders, but turn into violent ones later, after being incarcerated. We are creating more violence by putting people behind bars for petty and non-violent crimes, period. The children who are stuck in the middle of this insanity end up having an uphill battle in school and life, because like their parents, they are stigmatized by society. When they aren’t outcast, they are living in neighborhoods that have turned criminal records into badges of honor. Either way, that is the real failure of our society and government.
Those who are wise among us point out that when lawmakers want to make a new law, they should be sure that they are willing to put someone to death if they fail to comply with that law. It sounds extreme, but it remains a possible result. Any person could end up dead from breaking any law, because any person could end up being killed while authorities are attempting to take them into custody. That rule applies to all of our laws, and “death sentence” can be literal or figurative. Life without hope is worse than death, and that is what we as a society sentence people to every day, simply because we consider “some people” undesirable. That is systemic racism and elitism. We are not better than that, yet. The question is, are we ready to be better than that? Perhaps that’s a good question for people to consider as this year closes, and we start another.
The opinions expressed here are solely of the author, not Practical Politicking, LLC, its management, or staff.