Oh, Dallas. Oh, boy.
Once more you are in the spotlight in the worst possible way – and you are impressing the hell out of us.
Book-ended days of infamy? Yes, but, compare.
In one, 1963, death in Dealey Plaza was presaged by character assassination — in the Dallas newspapers and in mobs of right-wing goons.
Dallas in 2016 is a much more progressive city, with a model, proactive police force. All the heart-warming community statements and comings-together since a madman felled caring cops have affirmed it.
Be proud, Dallas. Be proud.
Forgive me for thinking this horrible event is going to result in more good than the many events that cause us to bury our heads in our hands. People are going to coalesce around the good guys on both sides of what some want to construct into a race war.
Said Dallas Assistant Police Chief Malik Aziz, “We cannot operate on the false foundation of ‘us versus them.’ This is all about us.”
Or, as President Obama said, “America is not as divided as some have suggested.”
Yes, some are deranged with hate. The Dallas shooter was that.
What is Dan Patrick’s excuse?
Patrick, the non-stop embarrassment who is Texas’ lieutenant governor, called protesters at the Dallas rally “hypocrites” for running from the bullets. By inference, he said these people – whom all observers described as peaceful – somehow called down fire upon those protecting them.
Given a chance to walk back his gutless comments, Patrick blamed people, particularly on social media, who incite violence.
Maybe Patrick, who gained prominence on right-wing radio, meant people like one-term Illinois Republican Congressman Joe Walsh, himself a talk radio host who has expanded the reach of his show since the shootings. Check out Walsh's tweet:
“This is now war. Watch out Obama. Watch out black lives matter punks. Real America is coming after you.”
Oh, America. Oh, boy.
Like Patrick, this is a man whom voters elevated to a policy-making position. If you are looking for marks of shame, that’s two.
What is it you say about Black Lives Matter? To call all participants “punks” is to identify one’s self as part of the problem.
From the day black people started defying authority under Jim Crow, with leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. modeling non-violence, some in the movement lost their heads. It’s going to happen in emotionally wrenching circumstances. King would have none of it, but it happened.
People who didn’t want to see black people advance wanted to generalize about the vandals, the looters, the thugs – you know, like the thug King.
Black Lives Matter is a valiant movement — born of much suffering and much injustice. To assail it for the actions of a few is to blame all white people for the actions of a few racist cops. Yes, and let’s blame all fish for the next shark attack.
Now: Let’s talk about social media, and the media in general.
It you look around you, you might notice that you live in a society that, despite its problems, is peaceful and peaceable and safe. People are mostly tolerant of others in a world of difference.
However, if you are living in the smart phone in your palm, or in the chaos of the nightly news, too often you are seeing society at its worst.
Black vs. white? Look around and tell me if you see a war. No, you don’t. Police brutality? It happens, but professionalism almost always rules the day.
To electronic and digital impressions that make discord seem the norm, we are intimate. To our neighbors, to our own communities, not so much.
Let us live in that world, the neighborly one. Dallas, you are already showing us how.
Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.