Why Baltimore is not America

So there was an incident, and right or wrong, a city now burns for the perceived injustice of it all.

And I don’t really care that much.

Sounds callous, right?  Don’t get me wrong, I have empathy for those who have lost life and property, who have had their dreams destroyed, or their families ripped apart.  I feel concern for those who are tasked with ending the violence, and hope that the rioters will come to their senses.

But it really isn’t a big deal to me.

Part of it is proximity: I don’t live anywhere near the east coast, or a big city, and the problems that plague those areas are not mine.  Oh, sure, they get plenty of TV time, and lots of viral images and videos get passed around.  I’m aware of what’s happening, but it doesn’t affect me.

Not really.

The script is well known at this point: a black youth (anywhere from 13 to 45, it would seem), dies in a confrontation with authority (usually white, but let’s be honest: it’s the uniform, not the skin color under the uniform).  Riots break out, then settle down.  Then the results of the investigation into the incident are released, and riots happen again, no matter what the results might be.

And it all happens in certain communities, with certain demographics, although we’re not supposed to point that out.  It used to be impolite, but now it’s just racist.  Because you can’t criticize the vibrant minorities and their legitimate political protests.

You know what would concern me?  If the Orthodox Jews riot.  If the Amish riot.  If the Mormons riot.  If the Catholics, the Baptists, the Seventh-Day-Adventists, the Pentecostals, or the Lutherans riot.  If the people taking to the streets are not the poor and downtrodden from the ghettos, but the slightly less poor and definitely more oppressed religious communities.

And I’m not concerned about the Reverends Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson.  They don’t really try to bring peace, they only bring more trouble.  That’s their gig; they’ve been concern trolls long before the internet was around, and their words are meant to be calm, reasonable, and provide justification for the violence in the background.

But what happens if a true man of peace and integrity decides to make a stand?  It won’t look like Selma this time.  That would be too easy.  It will be counter to every narrative that is currently in effect, and yet it will passed from person to person, and strange allies may be formed.  But I think that there will be similarities: courage to speak, faith in common sense, and clear understanding of right and wrong.  And above all, this time it will be less about forcing change in the way things work, and more about standing firm while they are assailed from all sides.  And when they remain unbroken, despite all efforts to the contrary, the course of America will change.

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