Without doubt, the United States of America has much to be proud of. The great experiment in a government “of the people, by the people, for the people,” which the founders of this country began 2½ centuries ago, has brought the blessings of opportunity, freedom and happiness to a vast number of its citizens.
At the same time, we cannot ignore the fact that these blessings have been denied to many Americans, simply by reason of race.
Most of us would be shocked at the living conditions, both squalid and life-threatening, experienced by so many Americans, especially those who live in our inner cities. There is a sense of hopelessness accompanying the growing disparity between the empowered and the under-privileged.
We should not, therefore, be surprised that, when those who are entrusted with protecting all citizens are shown to have a longstanding and consistent pattern of abuse and brutality against the black population, segments of the black community express their fury and anguish by protesting against such treatment.
On the one hand, the number of those who support the Black Lives Matter movement is a source of encouragement and hope. The framers of our Constitution clearly grasped the importance of citizens being able to express outrage through peaceful assembly. They were wise enough to realize that it might take such expression to bring about needed change.
Turning to today, it must be emphasized that the vast majority of the people taking part in the current demonstrations are seeking a peaceful way to express their anger at the long, systemic history of abuse, both physical and economical, stretching all the way back to the days of slavery.
Tragically, at the same time there are those individuals who see, in all this, an opportunity to undermine — through violence, destruction of property and pillage — the foundations of our society. Here we depend on our institutions of law enforcement — local, state and, if necessary, federal — to assist law-abiding citizens to protect the innocent and restore order.
A greater tragedy would befall our society if we were to conflate these two groups.
We must not use the vandalism and street violence of some as an excuse to attack all the men, women and children using their right to peacefully assemble and bring their legitimate issues to public attention.
It’s been 170 years since this country was torn asunder by the Civil War. While that conflict brought about the formal end of slavery, it did little to create equality between the races. True, there have been important steps taken toward such equality, but outright racism, along with economic and educational disparities, continue to this day. This is truly a blight on all of us.
The response of “All lives matter” to Black Lives Matter misses the point entirely!
True, the black community is hardly the only community that experiences bigotry or racism in our country. However, the fact that their predecessors were forcibly brought to this country under inhumane conditions and the length of time they have had to endure racial discrimination, economic abuse and brutality make a compelling argument for the need to address this outrage in an immediate and specific way.
At this point in history, it is imperative to devote significant resources to working with the African American community to address the wrongs of history and to do our best to educate and, where needed, hold accountable those who perpetuate the racism and mistreatment.
By working to grant the opportunities of full citizenship to that segment of the population that has suffered the most, we can begin a process of securing the blessings of this nation and its Constitution to all who come under its banner.