If you think I’m exaggerating, let me ask you:  What is Donald Trump proposing to do about the massive debt young students carry from going to college?  Give up?  Well if you couldn’t come up with an answer, that’s okay. Because he doesn’t have one.  Neither did one of the other former Republican candidates either.  Income inequality?  Same answer.   Oh, wait. No.  I’m wrong.  “Cutting taxes” – the single economic strategy Republicans have consistently enacted for three decades that has actually exacerbated this issue.  This is what they are proposing.  They are, in truth, ignoring this important issue.

Recall, if you will, that Congress left Washington last Thursday for their summer break after Republicans blocked every single attempt at legislating additional gun controls, post Baton Rouge I, post suburban St. Paul and post Dallas.   Well, it looks like “ignoring the problems of racism, guns and violence” in American society – three issues Republicans have long ignored – just might be coming back to bite them squarely in their lazy asses.  Three cops were killed in Baton Rouge two days after the burial of Baton Rouge private citizen Alton Sterling. 

And, as is becoming too “usual” to even contemplate, we are asked to “come together” to support our police officers who put their lives on the line every day to protect us.  

I simply cannot fathom all the calls for “coming together” after Baton Rouge, Minnesota, Dallas and, once again, Baton Rouge.  I mean I do “get” it.  It’s basically a plea for common cause against those who would take it upon themselves to right what they feel and/or imagine are wrongs committed against them by slaughtering others.  But the calls for “unity” and “coming together” can also be interpreted as calls to put aside legitimate questions that have been raised about equal treatment before the law, equal justice in our judicial and criminal systems and inherent, institutionalized racism and bigotry.  The quickness with which such calls – already just minutes after the news media are reporting that 3 police officers have been shot and killed in Baton Rouge – is routine.  No time is wasted issuing the desperate pleas for unity, coming together and the universal condemnation of the killing of police officers for any reason whatsoever.    

Maybe if “calls” to stem the tide of African American harassment, arrests, and deaths at the hands of the police had been heeded, had something been done about this rather blatant injustice, maybe Baton Rouge and Dallas might not have happened.

While such comments are cloaked in words of universal peace and common mutual respect, the pivoting also masks the genuine question about whether killings by police of unarmed Black men, women and children are also “attacks on the rule of law and order” as well.   But it’s only with the killings of police officers where this theme is invoked. While this vigorous statement of what the attacks on police officers mean to America and our system of values and governance, no such vigor, no such statements are ever made about police officers who shoot and kill African Americans and Latinos. 

Why?  Are we to conclude, then, that Black and Latino lives matter less than those of the police?  Do they deserve less protection from death than cops?  Are Black and Latinos worthy of fewer rights afforded by the Constitution compared to police officers?  What is the answer to this fundamental question that the Black Lives Matter organization has presented to America?

Based on the unequal rhetoric public officials speak when speaking of Blacks killed by police and police officers shot by citizens, the answer seems pretty clear.  Police officers are much more worthy of protection than are Black Americans.  In fact, there is a growing body of evidence that police officers who are charged to protect and serve, are protecting and serving some Americans more than others.  It’s not an inconsequential issue and all the calls for supporting our police officers, all the calls for unity and coming together, all the calls for stopping the shooting of police officers do not “balance out” the calls for greater police accountability when they kill our Black and Latino citizens at far greater rates than Whites.   

You might have taken note of just how much our police departments have become “militarized” over the past decades.  During the height of the 1960’s and 1970’s protests, cops were basically armed with night sticks, tear gas, and side arms – a six round .38 or .40 pistol, let’s say.  When you see today’s police forces responding to protests and demonstrations – and even lesser events – they are armed with high powered rifles, body armor, protective riot gear and are accompanied by armored vehicles that look like they belong on the battlefields of Iraq and Syria rather than on the streets of Peoria or Cleveland. 

And the reason for this massive escalation of our battle armed police forces?  It’s not that America has become more “criminal.”  In fact, serious crime in America is at a near all time low.  So why has this happened?  What has caused the metamorphosis of police forces into what resemble armed, occupying armies? 

Back in the 1960’s and 1970’s it was pretty much assured that police faced similarly or lessor armed bad guys.  That is, they faced shotguns, five shot rifles, or pistols like their own.  And there were no bullets that exploded on contact with flesh and bone to do maximize damage.  But no more.  Now the police are as likely to encounter bad guys with AR-15’s, AK-47’s and Sig Sauer assault weapons than they are with rifles, shotguns and pistols.  And how did this shift occur?  Well, back in the 1960’s and 1970’s it was the M-1 rifle that the military used (in Viet Nam, for example) and this weapon wasn’t available to the general American public.  Today’s military has a much more powerful arsenal of weaponry but unlike thirty or forty years ago, these powerful weapons – in their non-military knockoffs – are readily available to anyone within range of a gun shop or a computer. 

As the citizenry becomes more armed with weaponry of greater firepower, it leaves police departments with few, if any, options.  As a result, police departments, in order to keep up with the proliferation of such deadly weapons have been compelled to respond in kind.  Call me crazy, but not exactly the best of situations when it comes to pubic safety. But it happens to be our reality.  The NRA, of course, believes that it is not the proliferation of such deadly weapons that have caused the escalation of police to bulk up with defensive and offensive weaponry but ………..  The NRA has no answer to this reality that has made us all less safe as we go about our daily business of living.   They, too, are not only ignoring this issue, they are actually making it much worse year after year. 

Despite the prototypical “ignore it and it will go away” conservative response to important issues facing us as a society, it’s beginning to look as if this is one issue that is not going to go away no matter how many times, no matter how sincerely, no matter how many exhortations are rolled out by law enforcement and political leaders to come together and support our police in the name of “law and order.” We’ve been there before – Nixon, the 1990’s - and it has resulted in nothing.  Just more of the same.

You want to know the biggest difference between Black Americans and Police Officers?  One makes a choice.  The other is stuck with a color for a lifetime.   


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