Don't kid yourself, all lives don't matter

Don't kid yourself, all lives don't matter
image: theantimedia.org

The American Civil Liberties Union is in business to defend the constitutional rights of all individuals.  Other organizations formed to protect and defend the rights and the lives of its members, as well as the general public.

The Anti-Defamation League, whose slogan is "Imagine a World Without Hate" focuses on worldwide antisemitism, but has come to the defense of people of all ethnicities.

The Japanese American Citizens League was formed to "secure and maintain the civil rights of Japanese Americans and all others who are victimized by injustice and bigotry."

There's the Order Sons of Italy in America, Polish Falcons of AmericaGreek America Foundation and hundreds of other organizations, all with like-minded purposes.

The fact that these organizations exist clearly demonstrates two things:

1.  Injustice and bigotry is a reality for many minorities.

2.  It's inevitable that members of minority groups who feel that they are under attack band together to demand justice for themselves.

Why is it, then that the very name, Black Lives Matter is so infuriating?  Do we disagree with the basic premise of BLM?  Do we take exception with the very idea that black lives matter?

Why was it necessary to immediately push back against the Black Lives Matter movement with the thinly veiled message that All Lives Matter?

We should start off at a place where we really do believe that all lives matter.  To the religious Right, all lives matter right up until the time they're born, then they're on their own.

Saying that that all lives matter minimizes the vulnerability of those most at risk in our society.  It should go without saying that all lives matter.  The problem is that historical evidence refutes that claim.

All lives do not matter.

When a low life scumbag like George Zimmerman can get away with killing an unarmed teenager, then white America has lost the right to say that all lives matter.

When video after video shows black men killed for selling cigarettes or CDs or having a broken tail light, then we have to admit that black lives really don't matter.

When a Chicago cop empties his gun into the prone body of teenager, we have to admit that there is a systemic failure to respect all lives.

We do not have to choose between respecting the lives of black men and supporting our police.  This is not the modern day version of Sophie's Choice, nor is it a present day version of Thunderdome.  One man does not have to die.

All lives will matter if we can actually believe it and live it.  All lives will matter when the scales of justice swing equally for all.

In the mean time, we should try to put ourselves into the shoes of a mother, who knows that every time her teenage son walks out  the door, he may not return.  Telling him over and over again to show respect and deference if he gets stopped by the police is no guarantee of safe harbor.

Recent video shows that even a man in full compliance with an officer's requests can wind up dead.

Black lives matter.  If they don't matter to you, they matter to them.  They matter to the wives and mothers and sons and daughters of black men.

The Hellers of Skokie, IL asked me why the protestors have to be so violent.  The Hellers do not like any waves in their little Skokie pond.  Just because black people are so upset, why should any of that anger spill over into the white lives of the Hellers?

Why, indeed?

We are no longer a nation of empathetic people.  It's always us or them.  I choose to support the Black Lives Matter movement because I think it's important to us as a nation.

I also choose to support my local police departments, many of whose numbers I have on speed dial.  Just as most white people can't imagine what it's like to be black in America, most civilians can't imagine what it's like to be a police officer in urban America.

For me there is no dichotomy, no choice to be made.  The police do a difficult and often thankless job.  They stand that blue line for us at risk to their own lives.  They deserve our support and our thanks.

In supporting our police, though we need to ask them to try to keep one thing in mind.  ALL lives matter.

COMING NEXT WEEK:  Racism and the misconceptions of Dr. Mintz

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