I saw Snoop Dogg on TV the other day, marching for unity and dialogue in the face of all this terrible violence.
So, yeah, Snoop Dogg gets it.
Hell, the other day my family watched Zootopia (Don’t ask why, because I don’t know; I’d thought my days of being subjected to slick animated features were behind me.) and that flick gets it, too.
That movie’s theme is all about divisiveness only serving the interests of authoritarianism.
A frickin’ Disney movie.
It’s not that hard to get, really.
But America doesn’t seem to be able to collectively wrap its brain around this mess.
And yeah, I know it’s not as simple as marching in L.A. and having rappers talk to police chiefs. It’s sure not as simple as cartoon bunnies uniting with cartoon foxes to save the day.
It’s a maelstrom of identity politics, the historical trajectory of racism, the evolutionary psychology of toxic masculinity and gun fetishism all swirling together like the wake of some Lovecraftian monstrosity.
I do get that. I do.
But it’s also simpler.
It’s as simple as this:
The injustices done by some police officers do not justify the horrible, murderous violence being directed at officers in general and the violence directed at those officers does not invalidate or negate the merits of the protestors’ purpose in speaking out against injustice.
Look, white privilege and institutional racism are real. You only have to look at the facts. Black men and people of color are more likely to be stopped, more likely to be arrested, more likely to be charged, more likely to be indicted, more likely to be convicted, more likely to be given harsh sentences–and yes, more likely to be shot while unarmed–than whites.
You can control for whatever variables you want and that fact will still be there.
And you know what, I’m willing to entertain the idea that not every cop who has shot an unarmed civilian was a monster, was evil.
Some of these guys were probably scared. Some of them made a terrible decision, and it probably haunts them.
The solution is not demonizing all cops. And if anyone carrying a banner for Black Lives Matter has done that (and we know some have) then they shouldn’t.
That’s all. They shouldn’t do that. Don’t demonize them either. (We can demonize Micah Johnson. Knock yourself out.)
But again, let’s be clear: the problem with police brutality and unjustified police shootings is not a problem of a few decent cops making mistakes, it is not a case of a few bad apples that just need to be rooted out, and it certainly is not a story of people just doing their jobs.
It is a systemic problem and we as a society need to address it.
Backlashers want to shift the attention to the violence directed against cops.
You know what? I think we, as a nation, can maybe pay attention to two different problems at once.
And that’s what these are (despite what my local police chief thinks): two different problems.
If you want to talk about the actions of Micah Johnson and others who have attacked police officers, then we need to talk about guns again.
Because–did you know this–there’ve been studies that show that men are more aggressive and belligerent after just handling a gun.
So the whole “guns don’t kill people, people do” has got to go. Anyone with any sense–and access to international comparisons–can tell you that’s patently bullshit, but now it’s been scientifically rebutted, too.
Gun lovers in this country don’t want to face this reality, but we need to be grown ups now and admit that guns change behavior. So let’s be mature and follow the 2nd amendment, the one that calls for a “well-regulated” population of the great big “militia” that is America.
And yeah, let’s talk about toxic masculinity, while we’re at it, because–sadly–one of our biggest problems here seems to be the Y chromosome.
So there’s so much going on here–so much to talk about, so much to grapple with.
But the way forward is still really simple.
Because we can come together or we can come apart.
We’ve got two political models on the landscape right now. They’re not running against each other, but they are running against each other.
You can either embrace the politics of Trump–the politics of divisiveness, fear, anger, nativism–or you can embrace the politics of Obama–of inclusiveness, optimism, discourse, compromise.
And, by the way, if you don’t think that the above is what Obama stands for then you’re probably only being influenced by what he represents to you and not what he actually chooses to represent. What I’m saying is: if you can’t look at the facts of who the current president is and what he has tried to do while in office–that he is not the racist, socialist, closet Jihadist-sympathizer, or whatever that some people say he is–then you are probably part of the problem. And that’s okay. I’m not demonizing you, I swear. But it’s time to get with the program.
We call it America.
And it’s aspiration.
Not aspiration for closed doors and high walls. It’s aspiration for something better.
Not “us vs. them.”
“E pluribus unum.”
We’re grappling with America’s oldest contradiction at the heart of all this. We’ve come a long way. But not far enough. We just had a fuck-all of a set-back.
But when horrors like the last week and a half occur, we have to keep inching forward.
Because the alternative is intolerable.