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No One Is listening to the American people -- still

: Laura Hollis on

I am watching the various classes of America's "elites" -- politicians, commentators, academics, activists, Hollywood big mouths and corporate CEOs -- drive this country deeper into conflict for the sake of their own personal aggrandizement and profit, and it is disgusting.

If you're on Twitter, Facebook or anywhere else (even during a pandemic), you can read, watch or hear Americans speak for themselves, and there are many common threads:

1. The overwhelming majority of Americans of all backgrounds think George Floyd's death was a despicable crime, and that the police officer who did it should be tried for murder, convicted and sentenced to prison. They feel outrage and sorrow and infuriating helplessness about Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and Philando Castile. But no one is listening.

2. Black Americans are saying that it isn't just the deaths; it's the profiling, the persecution from law enforcement, the fear, the injustice, the poverty. They've been saying it for years, but it doesn't stop. No one is listening.

3. Most Americans understand that law enforcement is dangerous work, that police officers put their lives on the line every day and that many lose their lives. Americans can simultaneously hold that view and demand reforms that sanction and prevent abuse by cops. No one is listening.

4. Most Americans -- again, of all backgrounds -- oppose violence and looting, even in response to egregious events like the killing of George Floyd. They understand that punishing innocent people only creates resentment and encourages retaliation. Destroying minority-owned businesses -- as the looting often does -- only makes the economic situation worse for the very people who need help most. No one is listening.

 

5. Most white Americans understand that black citizens have faced challenges, cruelty, outright hatred and violence that whites may never encounter in their lives. They want to do their part to make things better. What they don't want is to be smeared with labels and epithets, and told they are somehow "responsible" for slavery, murder or oppression that they themselves did not participate in and that they personally abhor. No one is listening.

I could write more. There is actually a great deal of agreement among Americans on very fundamental principles. But you'd never know that by listening to the news media, politicians or commentators. Their stock in trade is hysteria and headlines, and it's ripping this country apart.

A common trope about contemporary American involvement in foreign wars is that we're pushed into them by ignorant, warmongering politicians who want facile slogans for reelection campaigns, and by arms merchants and others with profit motives, all of whom exploit tragedies as a justification and none of whom care how many innocent lives are destroyed in the process.

That -- like most such blanket statements -- is probably a gross oversimplification. But it's astonishing how similar this is to our current crisis, which threatens to escalate into an internal war if we don't calm things down.

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