It is quiet here in my Mid-Atlantic suburban bubble. I read the news, but don’t watch it, which filters some of the impact. And unfortunately, this sort of thing happens here with disheartening regularity. We are a nation of guns, with a growing tendency to use them against one another, for no reason, and every reason.
We are also a racist nation – a rot at the very heart of everything that we wish to think of as good about ourselves. But I am not without hope. We are the country that elected a black president – twice. And he has shown himself to be greater, classier, and more presidential than any other leader in my memory. His presence is a daily reminder that a member of an oppressed population can be elected by a clear majority to the very highest office and make it his own. We did that. In this, at least, our country managed to rise above its racist roots. Thank goodness.
But there will always be some intractable idiots. As the rest of us are heartened by Obama’s leadership, they are horrified and outraged. They feel themselves to be losing ground to those they consider ‘other’ and therefore dangerous. With one of ‘them’ as president, ‘they’ will grow emboldened, demanding more than they deserve, tearing down our traditions and institutions, attacking our homes and families… . This is a big reason why Trump’s white supremacist rhetoric has found a larger audience than the rest of us thought possible. Those who have little are afraid of getting less, and having their voices drowned out by the louder voices of the ‘other’.
I think the black rights movements have been growing stronger and more vocal, for a lot of reasons. Mobile phones and the internet are a big one. All the violence and injustice we are seeing has always existed, but was systematically unreported and ignored. When everyone has a camera and an internet connection, hush-ups and white-washing are impossible. The good people can no longer plead blindness and ignorance. And the black community is realizing the true scope of what they personally knew and experienced. There is a war going on, and the lines are being drawn.
We will see in our November elections whether our country is willing to accept open warfare against itself – to light the flames of a new Civil War. Or if we can usher in a new era of true Civil Rights. The right to live in peace, for everyone to go about their lives without fear. To believe in a legal system that strives to uphold the rights of all, and a justice system that fights to be truly just.
I hope we can.