Earlier today when I posted this article I asked that Mayor Giuliani think again about the comments he made about “Black Lives Matter” and erroneously asked that he insert the word “Jew” for the word Black in those comments and after doing that if he would still feel the same way. The word that I intended to use rather than “Jew” was the word “Italian”. That error has been corrected and I apologize for it .
I have been writing about the use of excessive and lethal force by the police for a long time now; I have thought about those things even longer. But for some reason – combined with the recent tragedies in Baton Rouge and Minnesota involving the killings of two Black men by police, when I read about the killings in Dallas of five innocent police officers and the wounding of seven others, I was literally overcome with emotion; so much so that while in the midst of struggling with those emotions I could not help but to wonder how President Obama and all of the other officials who must regularly deal with these types of situations as a representative of all of their constituents are able to make it. How are they able to do this time-and-time again, maintain their composure, and survive mentally?
Elected officials are saddled with issues that are tough enough to deal with without divisive comments like those coming from past public officials like former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Representative Joe Walsh. These men know better than to say something like this because they have been in the shoes of these current elected officials. No matter how much they might hate President Obama and want to take advantage of an opportunity to play politics, this is not the time for that. America needs to come together and heal. The country is in a dangerous place and Americans are in desperate need of leaders who can pull us together not tear us apart!
All of the finger pointing, fighting and taking of sides is, however unfortunate, America’s citizens way – in what is a nightmare-like, schizophrenic way – of crying out for help. But schizophrenia-like responses is neither what we want nor need from our elected officials especially at this point and under these circumstances! What we need is combined leadership from all of those whom we have elected to represent us; to represent America! What makes things even more freighting is that when it comes right down to it, that leadership space currently appears to be a virtual vacuum because there is not a mutual commitment by our elected officials to step up and do the jobs that each was elected to do. They are without courage.
But please, allow me to get back to Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Representative Joe Walsh. Mayor Giuliani’s record says that he is a good and reasonable man. I don’t know that much about former Representative Joe Walsh since he only served one term in congress but I will give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he is likely a good man but one whose opinion, based on his congressional record, obviously differs from mine. And based on that congressional record, as to whether or not he is a reasonable man, from my perspective, is debatable. His short record in congress says that he is not so I would not recommend that he be intricately involved in any effort to solve America’s policing problem.
Although I strongly disagree with Mayor Giuliani with regard to the things that he says about Black Lives Matter, I strongly feel that he should be among those who should sit down and work to resolve this problem. If by some miracle I could have any input at all, my opening comment and question to the mayor would be; “first, think of all of the things that ‘Black Lives Matter’ have done and been involved in and the comments that you have made about that organization as a result of those things. Then, insert the word Italian for the word ‘Black’ into all of those thoughts and comments. Would you still feel the same way?
As I have watched and continue to watch things play out among our young people of all colors I believe that they will be the ones who will ultimately resolve this problem. I do not know if this is because those in my parents’ generation and my generation grew up fighting to be seen as and treated equal and, as a result, gained enough ground so that many of our young people who did not experience that struggle take it for granted that equality is a given so do not even incorporate the lack of it for some into their thinking or if it is because of other factors unknown to me. But for whatever reason, despite the color of their skin, when any of these young people are treated differently from their counterparts they begin from the starting point of “I am just as good as you are so what is your problem?” They do this whether they are addressing the police or anyone else. Unfortunately, this is what gets too many of our young Black men killed by police officers.
This same attitude by young people applies when they are stopped by police officers. Young people have the audacity to question police officers if they treat them in an unprofessional manner. And for young people of color – especially young Black men, to do this even when these police officers, treat them differently from the way that they treat their white counterparts seems to quickly escalate these situations. In situations where white police officers – of which some already fear them simply because of their color – are involved, this has too often proven to evolve into a life or death situation.
If a person of this young generation does not like someone it is more likely than not that it is due to that person’s personality and not because of the color of their skin. If a person of this generation feels that they are being treated differently from what they perceive to be normal then they are going to question it. So my question to Mayor Giuliani is; is this something that justifies a police officer killing a Black man or any other person of color? Should it justify them killing any person despite their color? And if so, why is it that it is more often a person of color, especially young Black men, who are killed for this rather than a white person?
In the meantime – while we work to solve the policing problem, perhaps our elected officials, their leaders and those who are considered to be among the elites of each party should espouse the examples set by these young people and incorporate lessons learned from them into their way of thinking and governing. Even if it doesn’t help things it certainly could not hurt them. And it would also likely do some good for those of us everyday Americans in my parents’ generation and my generation who are not elected officials to have some new light shed on our way of thinking by these young people. We don’t have to agree with them on everything that they have to say but surely we can agree on some things.
With the situation that America is in now all of us, regular citizens and elected officials, need to focus on that situation and reevaluate what it is that we really feel and truly believe as Americans. America is a great nation and we can make it even greater. We just have to be willing to focus and work together. It will take a lot of hard work but we can do it.
Eulus Dennis – author, Operation Rubik’s Cube and Living Between The Line