Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Calls for unity

When you hear them call for "unity," mostly what they mean is they want everyone to go home and eat their feelings.  Pat sort of gets it right here but not exactly.
That is the choice we are faced with after the last week. How do we step back from the ledge? There is a positive choice that has a foundation in truth and justice and listening to one another. We can say we’ve seen enough precious life spilled into the street that it is worth stepping out of our comfort zones to try and hear what we aren’t hearing. We can take each other’s fears and heartbreak as seriously as our own. We can work with one another in good faith to fix what is broken. This choice leads to a place where community wounds and hearts can begin the long and difficult process of healing.

Because the other choice is to demonize those we disagree with, perpetuate a climate of fear and distrust, dismiss the experience of others as if they do not matter, and double down on the toxic idea that violence is the most effective way to solve problems. This is the choice of a false “unity” that bullies use in bad faith to try and silence anyone pointing out uncomfortable truths. This choice puts everyone back in their respective corners, and inevitably takes us right back here to this awful place we find ourselves living or watching with our hearts breaking. This choice leads to more heartbreaking, unbearable loss that will only be bumped off the front pages by the next list of heartbreaking, unbearable loss. This second choice puts everyone on different teams and looks at lists of the dead and wounded and arrested as if they were a scorecard.
He's spot on about the political calls for unity being 100 percent counterproductive bullshit. But it doesn't follow that its opposite has anything to do with both sides "listening to one another" in order to "begin the long and difficult process of healing."  Nothing is better just because we prayed publicly and had a "conversation" about the hurting. In fact, that sounds like more of the same. 

We don't need to listen and heal. We need to fix the dang problem. The problem is there is an oppressive, racist police state armed to the teeth inflicting violence on the citizenry. Full stop. That atrocity doesn't demand unity, it demands justice. 

The reason people talk about "healing" or "unity" is because they want to seem like they're offering responsible leadership but don't actually want anything to change. Take, for example, Governor Edwards here.  

Edwards said he has been criticized for saying the video of Sterling's shooting, which has generated mass protests in Louisiana's capital city, was "disturbing" and from others "because I didn't call for the immediate arrest and prosecution of the officers involved in the shooting."

It's an illustration, Edwards said, of a powder keg mentality and reluctance of people on either side to allow conversation .

"When I called the video disturbing, some folks thought it was a condemnation of the officers," he said. "From the other side when I didn't call for the immediate arrest of the officers it was taken by some as not striking the right balance.

"But I don't think anyone who saw the video could say it wasn't disturbing, and I don't believe the officers should be condemned without a thorough investigation.
That's quite a riddle, isn't it? It's "disturbing" but let's not be hasty. Let's not prosecute the murderers.  Let's not act.  Let's just emote. That should be enough, right? As long as we maneuver ourselves such that "both sides" are unhappy with our  incoherent and ultimately useless position we get to go home and claim the moral high ground. Good for us. Too bad for the next victim, though.

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