a man dies while in police custody in baltimore. two men attempt an attack on a gathering in garland, texas, and are killed by an off-duty policeman who is serving as a security guard. there seems to be no end to these incidents in my country. how could someone have died while being transported to the police station after a simple arrest? why would two men plan an attack on a group that was attacking their religious sensibilities? us against them, over and over and over.
now the right-wing media rails against the baltimore protestors. there is no pretense of trying to understand the intense anger over the senseless killing of a black man in one of baltimore's poorest neighborhoods. there is no indignation directed at those who killed a man whose only crime appeared to be fleeing the police, who the police only pursued because he ran from them. none on the right are asking why those living in this area of baltimore live in poverty and why the drug trade seems to be the chief source of income. none of these pundits are asking why someone would flee from the police for no apparent reason. instead, there is only condemnation for those who take to the streets in anger and frustration and vilification of the victim.
in garland a gathering of bigots who are intent on offending devout muslims comes under attack. certainly, the attackers were not justified and left the policeman who shot them no choice. but what would be the reaction had a group of middle-eastern immigrants held a rally that featured a competition for cartoons depicting jesus? would armed gunmen from the christian right have appeared outside such a rally? most likely, given the prevailing belief in texas that everyone should have the right to carry weapons anywhere and to carry them openly. those who assembled in garland wanted to offend and provoke. in the name of american nationalism, those who came to garland contradicted the ideals of tolerance and of respect for the beliefs of others inherent in the declaration of independence and the u.s. constitution, as did those who came to kill them.
may we turn from extremism in every form. may we refuse to engage in the "us against them" philosophy that is anathema to the common good. may we look for the causes of anger which spill over into violent confrontations in the streets of our cities. may we stop and think before we so blithely assume the worst in others. shalom.