On birthday 244, America is upside down — and it’s scary
These United States of America mark birthday 244 this weekend.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to blow out the candles when you are upside down.
And upside down we are.
This national nervous breakdown started with shared anguish over the senseless death of a black man at the hands of a wayward white policeman. That has been translated into all police are bad and all of the country is bad, with a shameful history that must be erased, including monuments, statues, movies, television shows and food labels that offend.
The anarchist movement has turned needed national conversation and peaceful demonstrations into nightly violence, building burning, a takeover of whole blocks of city streets and repression of free thought. Any statement that does not match the wishes of angry anarchists is twisted into an accusation of racism.
The supposed sentiment behind Black Lives Matter most of us believed in before the movement under that name was born. We share the dream of Martin Luther King Jr., who spoke of the day all of us would be judged by the content of our character rather than the color of our skin. In upside down America, if someone says all lives matter, nearly mirroring King’s sentiment, it is deemed racist.
What does the movement desire? A New York City leader of Black Lives Matter promised to “burn the whole system down if they don’t give us exactly what we want.”
In upside down America, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees dares to say he would prefer to stand for the flag during the national anthem and leave the kneeling for racial justice for another moment and he is told to shut the (bleep) up and bullied into two days of national apologies.
In upside down America, not just Civil War monuments are up for removal. The statues of Abraham Lincoln, who led a war to end slavery, and Ulysses S. Grant, who marshaled the army that got it done, are in jeopardy. The Lincoln statue under siege was financed by freed slaves. A statue toppled in Wisconsin was that of an abolitionist.
But we don’t care much for history these days. Virginia Sen. Tim Kane took the podium to say America invented slavery, when, in fact, it preceded this country by centuries. The owning of slaves was pretty common in this country’s first century. No one is happy about that. But that does not diminish the greatness of those who founded and nurtured this country to historic heights.
In upside down America, when black Republican Sen. Tim Scott advanced legislation to reform police practices and move toward racial justice, he got almost no Democratic support and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi termed it “an attempt to get away with murder.” Despite the fact 80 percent of the package mirrored Democratic initiatives in a House bill, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois termed it “token legislation.”
In upside down America, Seattle forfeited a six-block area to anarchists three weeks ago, with its mayor forecasting “a summer of love.” By week three, there were shootings and deaths in that area. In New York, Atlanta, Chicago and Washington, where police budgets are under siege, there have been crime waves and nightly violence, even as a compromised major media praises “overwhelmingly peaceful demonstrations.”
While there is some worthy demonstrating, most of what is happening is not in the productive tradition of Dr. King and does not even have a tie to racial justice. It is thuggery and property destruction all of us would be arrested for if we did it in our neighborhoods. It is being enabled and excused by mayors, talking heads and reporters undeserving of your vote, your readership or your viewership.
And who is hurt most by all this programmed anarchy? The very people who need a national hug and higher conversation on racial unity following the George Floyd atrocity.
All countries have histories. Those histories include bad moments. Great countries learn from the bad moments.
I wish all 244 years had not included slavery and would have included equal rights for women. But this country’s evolution has included failures that became strengths, conflict overcome by unity, and inadequacies and shortcomings replaced by reforms that have made this the place a million legal immigrants seek to enter every year.
Unfortunately, you can’t train hearts. A portion of this country, supported by people with bad intentions, is seeking to erase all American history and replace it with a model that has never worked in the past and will not work in the future.
Everything that has made this country exceptional is under attack in this upside down America. Those of us who want to preserve the idea of America, regardless of our race, age, economic standing, political leanings and cultural beliefs, better join hands soon or face a permanent replay of the past five weeks.
David F. Troisi is retired as editor of the Sun-Gazette.