Prejudice Hurts

By now, you’ve probably read and watched countless stories and opinions about what happened over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Since we are a hyperlocal blog, we don’t typically comment on national news. But there is a sense that a line was crossed last weekend and that we have arrived at a cultural moment in which change may be possible. Does it wake us up? Or do we let it slide?

Positive change is never certain and if it comes it probably won’t be overnight, but positive change is possible and I hope we as a nation seize it. We’ve missed other opportunities.

Sandy Hook was a moment that many thought would forever change the debate over gun control and lead to changes–it didn’t happen.

Maybe, Charlottesville will be different. Maybe it will focus us on the dangers posed by hate groups, the evils of racism and the ugliness of anti-Semitism.

Or maybe in a few days, it will become a faint memory and we will go about our lives–until the next flashpoint. And there’s always another flashpoint.

America has been divided and subdivided into so many groups and subgroups that we are losing focus on what unifies us.

Often these groups don’t talk to each other or if they do, they talk past each other in loud voices meant to demean and diminish.

I have long felt that Washington is broken, unable to solve problems or seize opportunities. That’s not a profound conclusion.

When you think about it, it’s amazing how great a place America still is considering the dysfunction of our politics. Can you imagine how much better we could be if our government and its leaders were average instead of abysmal?

And make no mistake, they are abysmal.

Congress can’t craft a budget—which is their  responsibility. They can’t address infrastructure, immigration, education, taxes or health care. Their constant brinksmanship on the debt ceiling—which they never address—will cost taxpayers $2.5 billion this year when they finally vote to increase it, once they get done bloviating on C-Span.

And it doesn’t matter if you are a Democrat or a Republican, liberal, moderate or conservative—nobody seems capable of governing which in my definition requires that you get things done and solve problems.

So this isn’t a partisan rant. I think both parties have failed this country. And I think that is what has stoked a whole lot of anger and frustration. And this week, we are reminded that for some anger and frustration turns to hatred and so they look for scapegoats. Hatred never solved anything, but it sure is dangerous and repulsive too.

So I am beginning to believe that any hope for meaningful change will start in our nation’s towns and cities.

Want better race relations? Get to work on it in your town and city.

Want to create housing and job opportunities? Elect local officials who understand how to encourage the private sector to invest, or at least those who won’t chase away jobs and development that makes sense.

Want safer streets? Invest in public safety.

And on and on it goes.

Of course, it would be great if the federal government provided some resources. After all, we do pay taxes.

So help on the opioid crisis would be nice. Check that, it’s essential.

But you get the picture.

Local is where it’s at–for most things.

Cities, counties and states can serve as laboratories for innovation, but only if ‘we the people’ get involved and stay involved and unite as Americans.

Personally, I was repulsed by the images from Charlottesville. It’s a beautiful city—the hometown of Jefferson, the architect of our Bill of Rights. I took a course many years ago at the University Of Virginia Darden School Of Business and I thought: “wow, I can live here.” You felt Jefferson in that city— so to see the images of violence and hear the stupid chants was nauseating.

Nazi’s and white supremacists walking in the streets spewing hate ought to be a wakeup call for Americans.

As Heather Heyer wrote in her final Facebook post before losing her life protesting hate: “if you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”

She was right…

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Last night Rachel Maddow showed evidence that Trump’s father marched with the KKK and was arrested in NYC during a Klan march. Is that the origin of Trump’s mixed feelings? It’s hard to escape attitudes that were ingrained when growing up. I wonder, and hope it’s not true.

  2. Lainie Lewis says:

    I’ve been saying for years that I believe that this great country is beginning to act like “The Fall of the Roman Empire”. All of us need to get our act together or we will lose our democracy with no easy way back.
    The majority of politicians care more about their party than they do about our country!
    Wake up America! Our children and grand children need a safe and happy place to grow and live!

  3. Rosemary Nixon says:

    Much can be done on the local level to improve the lives of residents. Don’t forget the need for jobs and what local government can do to help at that level. However, our federal system needs government at the national level that gets the things done that benefits its citizens that can’t be achieved at the local or state level. The problem is Congress has been hijacked by the wealthy like the Koch brothers and others which has helped contribute to the stalemate we are experiencing. A healthy democracy needs compromise and cooperation at all levels of government. For those elected to federal and state office, it is a balancing act between meeting the needs of their constituents and the greater national interest. Edmund Burke, the famous Irish statesman in the British Parliament, is famous for the political philosophy that representative government means that elected officials are more than delegates for their constituent opinions, but that statesmanship demands a mind that can comprehend the whole of issues, the needs of the larger entity, the country as a whole. As a lifelong student of government, Burke is one of my heroes.

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