A couple weeks ago, another Black man lost his life during an encounter with police. While many condemn the officer and many others support and condone any actions taken by law enforcement, no matter the consequences, all are missing the main issue.
America today is suffering from schizophrenia. Today we praise both the rugged go it alone, full speed ahead, damn the torpedoes, shoot first and ask questions later individualist, and the iron fisted get back in line or face the consequences agents of an increasingly violent security apparatus.
This who we are; a nation being pulled apart by our own diametrically opposed inner demons. Back in another lifetime, in a small state college in Ohio, four students were shot dead by agents of the state acting on orders of their governor. College students exercising their First Amendment rights provoked National Guardsmen to raise their weapons and fire upon their fellow citizens, killing four people.
Those of us who were aware on May 4, 1970, were shocked and saddened by the event, both for the senseless loss of life and for the response of many Americans, blaming the victims. What was not so apparent at the time was that this event and the reactions to it marked a turning point in our society.
Previously the conservative side of our political system often used the phrase, "I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." In the aftermath of Kent State, that phrase disappeared from the lexicon of American conservative thought. Replacing it were phrases like "America, love it or leave it," "my country, right or wrong," and other catch phrases designed to encourage support for what was an increasingly unpopular military adventure in Vietnam.
Since then, conservatives have lined up in their legions marching in step to cadences called out by the most obvious of demagogues, supporting the division of America along racial, gender, religious and ethnic lines, attempting to create cavernous divides among us. We have become a nation seething in hatred. Make no mistake, mass shootings are nothing if not hatred taken to its logical conclusion. Police assaults upon Black Americans are institutionalized hatred. Old people are being physically assaulted in our streets. How is this possible?
We are awash in messages of hate, broadcast daily over our public airwaves by the likes of Fox News.
Recently while running an errand I drove by a roadside stand set up between the Walmart parking lot and Louisiana Avenue. This stand featured with Trump flags bearing the message "Trump 2024 stop the b------t," as well as the usual blue stripe version of our nation's flag, and egregiously a flag in which the red stripes of the American flag were replaced with red AR15s. America today is a seething cauldron of hatred. The likes of Fox News and the followers of the former president are stoking the fires that are boiling America alive, as they dance and cavort like savages.