Thursday, September 28, 2017

Thoughts on the current protests - GUEST POST


I’ve been thinking a lot about the football players’ protests of the national anthem.  On the face of things, I don’t like it.  By any accounting, Americans are the most free, most wealthy, most generous people on earth, and we should be thankful for our citizenship here.  I think that this method of protest (disrespecting the symbols of our country) in order to make an unrelated political point so clouds the issue that many patriotic Americans can’t see beyond it.  And Trump’s nasty words had the result of making this past Sunday’s protests more about him than about anything else. 

But, digging a little deeper to consider the protestors’ motives, I agree that this country has a police brutality problem.  President John Adams once said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”  As our society becomes increasingly more immoral, and as the citizens fail to restrain themselves, it follows that the heavy and inadequate hand of the government (the police) will do increasingly more of the restraining for us.  In such a climate, a few policemen (sinners just like the rest of us) become tyrannical, and a few become so jaded that everyone appears as a law-breaker.  Both situations lead to the abuse of the innocent.  How many times have we heard, on TV, in the movies, or in real life, a policeman say, “I AM the law?”  This perspective is very, very wrong.  I think there is almost no justification for a policeman to use his weapon against a citizen: only in the case of an immediate lethal threat to the policeman or an immediate lethal threat to someone else.  Unarmed people should never, ever be shot.  It is far better to err on the side of criminals eluding justice than the side of innocents dying.  This is an issue, a societal problem, worthy of our attention.

Whenever controversial issues like this one come up, I always do lots of mental gymnastics, trying to turn the situation around to see how I’d feel if the shoe were on the other foot.  Would I approve of a professional athlete taking a knee to mourn the lives of all the innocent children murdered in abortion?  Mmm.  I might.  I would also admit that doing so during the national anthem communicates an anti-patriotism that I do not support and distracts from (nay, even harms) the original point of the protest.  And it downright angers people for whom love of country is a more important issue (than abortion, racial issues, or whatever).  As mature, thoughtful people, we have to admit that all issues aren’t equally weighted for all people.  Isn’t that one of the things pollsters are always asking in the run-up to elections?  For me, abortion is more important than racial tension or school spending or minimum wage because if we kill a person as an infant, then his race, his education, his income are all completely moot.  We have to ensure survival before we bother about secondary things.  Now I have good friends, church friends even, who believe racial equality is the more important issue.  While I disagree (and am happy to debate the essential import of abortion), I do refrain from accusing them of allowing their priorities to make them de facto supporters of abortion.  As also, by the way, they should refrain from accusing me of being a de facto supporter of racism.  This brings me back to the beginning.  In our society, we seldom consider the other person’s perspective this way.  Many voices in the public square these days are saying that valuing a love of country over a desire to end police brutality is the same as being racist.  And that’s not true.  Just because opposing racism isn’t a person’s highest ideal does not mean that it isn’t an ideal at all.  I suspect that NFL players would find many, many more people would rally to their cause if they could make their appeal for the one thing without simultaneously disrespecting another.

And now for a note about the disproportionate percent of African American people being killed by police.  African Americans make up 13% of the US population.  223 African Americans were killed by cops last year, which is 21% of those killed by cops.  315,000 African Americans were killed last year by abortion, and that’s 35% of abortions.  Now, which of these is worse for African Americans, both in numbers of actual dead bodies and in percentages compared to other races?!?!  You can check my math on this, but I’m pretty sure that if you’re an African American, you are a gazillion times more likely to be murdered as an infant than you are to be killed by a cop.
- Jenny Jo