Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Are we finally having that long overdue conversation?

In this day and age of political polarization, it's virtually impossible to mourn a tragic event in America without demagoguery being the first order of business. When that approach is taken, all too often most facts are completely ignored when one views a tragic event solely through one's own political prism/worldview.

But as NRO's Jonah Goldberg noticed, a good number of people were actually willing to have a conversation as opposed to espousing the robotic chanting points which accompany a given ideology.

At least for a moment, antagonists on either side of polarizing issues could see beyond the epistemic horizon of their most comfortable talking points. Black Lives Matter activists thanked the police for their protection and sacrifice. Conservative Republicans, most notably House Speaker Paul Ryan and former speaker Newt Gingrich, spoke movingly about race in America. Gun-rights activists were dismayed that Philando Castile, the man shot by a police officer in Minnesota, had followed all of the rules — he had a gun permit, cooperated with the officer, etc. — and was still killed. Liberals who insist that rhetoric from their political opponents inspires violence were forced to consider whether rhetoric from their allies might have helped inspire the shooter in Dallas.

It was a welcome change. “National conversations” are usually efforts to bully everyone into accepting a single narrative when the reality is that, in this country of more than 300 million, many narratives can be in conflict and still be legitimate.

On the other hand, I was a little concerned that some of my fellow conservatives engaged in borderline fanboy behavior when it came to cops. While I personally have a healthy respect for police and particularly admired the ability of the Dallas cops last week to remain focused on "protect and serve" despite their brothers having been shot, law enforcement in general should not be beyond reproach.

Conservatives, of all people, should understand that misdeeds committed by agents of the state are categorically different from the same acts committed by normal citizens. A father who slaps his son for no good reason, however wrong that may be, is very different from a cop who slaps a citizen for no good reason.

This country was created, in part, because the founders were outraged by arguably slight infractions — taxes on tea! — against their liberties and dignity. Is it really so unfathomable that African-American citizens should be outraged or distrustful of government when they have good reason to believe the state is murdering young black men?

And what about leftists? Apparently they've discovered a form of overreaching government they don't like.

Although (liberals) have seemingly boundless faith in the power and nobility of government, many draw a line around cops, creating one of the strangest ironies of modern liberalism: Many of those most eager to support new laws and new regulations suddenly lose faith when it comes to the government employees charged with enforcing them. It’s particularly amazing given that law-enforcement personnel typically receive far more training than your typical bureaucrat or legislator.

Another blind spot: Most of the problems with black homicide — by police or otherwise — take place in cities run by Democrats for generations, yet Republican racism is always to blame.

I'm certainly all for this "national conversation" continuing, particularly if we Americans can be secure enough to acknowledge facts which undermine our respective worldviews while still being unapologetic about deeply held beliefs.


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