America is in the midst of a long overdue teachable moment. She is crying while demanding the current civil disorder come to a halt. America wants the nationwide protests to operate per the constitutional right to peaceful protest. However, the results from our DNA test say that’s a lie.
Peaceful protests are most effective on Election Day when less than 60 percent of us protest. Not when marching down Main Street singing “Kumbaya’’ or “We Shall Overcome.’’
America wants its citizens to feel free to voice their disdain for their government without fear of retribution. To just say what you want and it will be respected. Again, the results from our DNA test say that’s a lie.
America wants its citizens to believe the latest violent protests are a result of the most recent citizen death at the hands of law enforcement.
The results from our DNA tests say that, too, is a lie. In order for calm to be restored, America must stop lying.
The nationwide violence we have witnessed for more than a week from sea to shining sea and from all four corners is illegal, uncomfortable and costly in terms of life and property. An unarmed man was killed while in police custody and served as the igniter for the uprising. Immediate calls to stop the violence have fallen on deaf ears. The riots are unfortunate and uncomfortable. Its effectiveness remains to be determined. However, the riots are not un-American.
The greatness of this country that we have come to enjoy is a direct result of violence We are 50 states strong only because we used violence to loot, plunder, pillage and murder to achieve it. Our westward expansion, known as Manifest Destiny, was God ordained. We did not peacefully protest the original inhabitants to surrender their property. No, we took it forcefully. It set the precedent for all future looting, plundering and murdering of anyone who stood in our way.
When half of our country disagreed with the right to own slaves, it was settled by violence, not peaceful negotiation. This past week, a peaceful protest in Washington D.C. was broken up by violence committed by the government to make way for a presidential photo opportunity. Today’s violence is a modern version of manifest destiny. We must stop pretending that it or we are anything different.
A few years ago, one man began a peaceful crusade to address his concern for police brutality against citizens. Not only was his peaceful protest rejected, he was denied the right to his pursuit of happiness. His chosen livelihood was taken. His nonviolent efforts led to nowhere. He was branded un-American. America did not want to listen because violence is the music to which she dances. America only listens to and responds to costly violence. Forcibly, she is listening today.
The notion that free speech is granted to everyone is another misnomer. We only tolerate speech that fits our selective narratives. Any speech we disagree with or that may be contrary to a preassigned norm, the messenger risks being vilified.
America has decided to selectively recall its history. We are often reminded of the guaranteed right to expression and assembly. Yet, we have never learned that exercising those rights are not contingent upon any emotional turmoil suffered by those who disagree. Disliking one’s position does not relegate their constitutional right.
We can continue to lie and call it something else. We can pretend it is a problem for only a small segment of society. Or we can take a collective look in the mirror, learn from it and make necessary, albeit painful, change.
At the risk of being misunderstood, as simply put as possible, I understand the recent civil unrest. I do not condone it. I would never participate in it. I do not support looting under any circumstance. But, I understand when the victim finally stands up to the bully with more force than society may deem necessary.
We are not dealing with a black and white issue. We are nearing the breaking point of a red, white and blue issue. To stop more innocent Americans from dying, America must first stop lying to herself.
Complicity necessitates consequences.