Fear, anger, ignorance, and conspiracy theory dominates the news and social media in the United States. This leaves Americans floundering to figure out facts versus fiction.
Current events began to spiral downward when the COVID-19 pandemic reached American shores in January 2020. Stay-at-home orders were issued, businesses closed, schools closed, unemployment reached greater-than-depression-era levels, and the economy tanked caused significant discontent among the populace.
When Americans began to venture outside, their pent up restlessness played out in many ways. They decided to ignore the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advice to practice safety measures such as social distancing, wearing a mask that covers the nose and mouth.
Major crises began to dominate the American news. There was a gigantic spike in COVID-19 cases. Overrun beaches and bars were two of the culprits. Another factor was a false belief that if a person was not old and infirm that the virus would not affect them.
Americans seemed to forget about civility, they clashed over the smallest of disagreements. Eventually, there were quarrels that grew into hate-filled violence, ending in death.
American Racial Injustice Rears Its Ugly Head
On May 25, police officers senselessly killed George Floyd. His crime? Supposedly he attempted to pass a counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes. He was hauled out of his car. After some confusion, he was subdued face down on the pavement with one officer kneeling on his neck, two other officers also kneeled on his torso and legs, and a third seemingly doing nothing.
A video of the scene went viral. Americans watched as Floyd’s life slipped away as his cries went ignored by the officers. His official cause of death by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office differs from an independent autopsy paid for by the family. The former’s report indicated he died from heart failure, whereas the latter’s result stated Floyd succumbed to asphyxiation from sustained pressure.
The day after his death, Black Lives Matter (BLM) and allies launched a peaceful protest in Minneapolis with the intent of making much-needed changes in legislation. Within days, protests erupted across as fellow Americans joined in expressing their outrage.
But violent actors have looted, set buildings on fire, destroyed public property, and physically hurt, maimed, and killed others.
Unfortunately, it took violence and destruction of property before anyone paid attention. John Oliver asserted that this is a problem and “we are f*****d.”
In an ill-advised response, the federal government reacted to the violence with violence, under the guise of law and order. By May 28, the National Guard was mobilized in Minneapolis. Eventually, other governors chose to tame the masses using the National Guard. Nightly curfews were enacted and enforced.
Americans: Divided and Distracted
America’s ideological divisions are greater than ever. The current political arena thrives on misinformation and distraction. Leaders fuel their groupies’ anger using Twitter and other social media sites. American politics have successfully conquered and divided this nation. Many people proclaim they “don’t know which end is up.”
Moreover, because America is distracted by the violence, intelligent discussion about inequality and police brutality against black Americans have taken the back seat.
To inflame the situation more, extreme radical rhetoric dominates the discussion. White supremacists and extremely fanatical leftists agitate their defenders with fearmongering and conspiracy theories. Which leaves no room for meaningful progress to begin.
If Americans can not make unilateral decisions to do something as simple as wearing a mask for the safety of others, how likely are they to effect changes desperately needed?
Can American Racial Inequality Change?
Too many Americans blindly believe the status quo is working just fine. They are content with Jim Crow laws, police brutality, and making voting impossible for black and brown Americans. In general, they believe bigotry and inequality are acceptable ways of life. Even if they do not voice these beliefs, their feigned ignorance is no excuse.
Supposedly the flippant manner predominantly displayed by white-based hate groups is isolated. It is not. Of course, there are those people who claim not they are not racist. But they are – passive-aggressively.
Hatred continues to gain traction. The Southern Poverty Law Center reported tracking 940 hate groups in the United States in 2019, reflecting an increase of more than 50 since the current administration took office in 2016.
One American Facebook user eloquently posted this observation about hatred:
It’s clear from one glance around the world that, even apart from religious teaching, responding to hate with more hate makes things worse, not better.
“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” in Matthew 5:44 and many other passages, it’s clear throughout the Bible that whether enemies who receive our kindness have a change of heart or not, it’s our own behavior, not theirs that should be our focus. We are to do the good and loving thing, whether it changes anything about the relationship or not.
Americans’ Long Road Forward
How does the U.S. heal the racial injustice perpetrated against black Americans for over 200 years beginning with slavery?
Black and white communities drastically different, from classrooms to the streets. Anti-racial programming begins when a person is young, it builds fear and anger. Americans must deal with their angry feelings and fearful thoughts before any sensible change can be made.
Un-teaching takes time. It takes patience. It takes unselfish people to ask what they can do rather than selfishly waiting for someone to come along and teach them.
In a nation created on the foundation of Christian values, equality, and freedom to have a caste system is unconscionable. All Americans deserve the same rights and privileges without fear of discrimination no matter their color or creed.
Another Facebook user’s comments: “We need big changes made in this country, but we cannot overlook past growing pains. We need to learn from them, keep the good and throw out the bad. Until we change our focus from “me” to “we” there will never be meaningful change in America.”
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
The New York Times: George Floyd Protests: A Timeline
NPR-OPB: Medical Examiner’s Autopsy Reveals George Floyd Had Positive Test For Coronavirus
Southern Poverty Law Center: Hate Map
Featured Image Courtesy of Mediamodifier’s Pixabay Page – Creative Commons License
Top Image Courtesy of UnratedStudio’s Pixabay Page – Creative Common License