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Stop stoking racial tensions when there's no reason for it
Everything that ever happens is not a reason for a race war, and we need to stop acting like it is.
My friend Dr. Alveda King was on Fox News last week invoking the words of her uncle, Dr. Martin Luther King: “Either we live together as brothers or we die together as fools.”
That seemed more important than ever as the riots in Charlotte entered a second night, and no one could say for sure how long it would last, or how many people would be hurt. It now appears that at least one life has been tragically lost. During the week, Rob gave you examples here, here and here of just how out-of-control these “peaceful protesters” got, while Dan explained how irresponsible reporting by the media stoked the riots in the first place.
Look, I can understand the perspective of many black people, especially black men, who feel they are in danger when they encounter the police in a way that white people do not. They have heard so many stories of black men being shot by the police, how can you blame them for wondering if they too might be in jeopardy even if they are doing nothing wrong?
But is the problem that they really are in danger? Or is the problem that they’ve heard so many stories to that effect, such that they believe the danger is real even if it is actually far less than they’ve been led to think?
Consider the media’s treatment of police-involved shootings in Ferguson, Baltimore, Milwaukee and Charlotte. In each case, initial reporting suggested that police shot unarmed black men who were either surrendering or otherwise posing no threat. And in each case the initial reporting made it sound like the police fired their weapons for no substantive reason. In all four cities, protests ensued that quickly turned into riots.
And in every case, it turned out the initial reporting bythe media got crucial facts wrong, or relied on sources who didn’t really have good information. In Charlotte, for example, the media continued to quote a family member of the man who was shot, claiming that he was merely sitting in his car reading a book. Police reports, multiple witnesses and video confirmed that the “unarmed man reading a book” was in fact an armed man holding nothing but a gun. And yet the media continued to quote this source, who, as it turned out, was not even at the scene and had no idea.
And by going so quickly to the racial angle on every one of these incidents, even before we know if there really is a racial angle to the story, people who run their mouths about these incidents stoke the flames of racial tension – when in many cases there is nothing racial at all about the incident.
The people rioting in the streets of Charlotte, declaring “white cops are devils,” probably don’t even know that the officer who shot Mr. Scott in Charlotte is black, as is his boss. They’re simply reacting to the quick and easy stoking of racial tensions and using it as an excuse to vent their rage and destroy other people’s property. Or worse.
In all likelihood, none of the people or killed in these riots were racists, and none of them had anything to do with any racist incident. They just happened to be in the path of maniacs when racial tensions were stoked.
And you know what? The blood being shed by these folks is all the same color. It’s all red. Because Dr. King was right that we’re all brothers, and if we insist on viewing everything that ever happens through the prism of skin color, our common brotherhood will always be tainted by divisions that have no reason to exist.
Is that really the kind of country we want to be?
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