A teach­able mo­ment re­sulted in a per­sonal at­tack

The Dundalk Eagle - - EDITORIAL - By MIKE URSERY murs­ery@ches­pub.com

A cou­ple of weeks ago, I did it again. I got into an­other Face­book fight.

Face­book fights are mostly a waste of time. Chances are great that the other per­son’s mind will not change. They likely will hold on to their be­liefs, no matter how much ev­i­dence is pre­sented to dis­pute their world­view.

Race, and racism, is once again a smok­ing-hot topic in our na­tion. An un­armed African-Amer­i­can male named Ge­orge Floyd died while in po­lice cus­tody on June 6 in Min­neapo­lis, Min­nesota. Three of­fi­cers sat on his body while he lay still on the ground, not re­sist­ing ar­rest. One of the of­fi­cers, Derek Chau­vin, put his knee on Floyd’s neck and ap­plied pres­sure for nearly nine min­utes. Floyd went un­con­scious, but the knee re­mained on his neck. He died soon after.

Floyd’s crime – pay­ing for items in a store with a $20 bill that al­legedly was coun­ter­feit. Yes, Floyd was killed over a non­vi­o­lent crime. Those four Min­neapo­lis po­lice of­fi­cers were ter­mi­nated, and later were charged. Chau­vin has been charged with sec­ond-de­gree mur­der. It took six days to for­mally an­nounce those charges. In that time, cit­i­zens took to the streets in protest. Ri­ot­ing also hap­pened, with a Tar­get store looted and a po­lice precinct aban­doned by po­lice of­fi­cers and van­dal­ized by cit­i­zens. Protests have taken place in all 50 states, show­ing solidarity with African-Amer­i­cans and de­mand­ing po­lice re­forms.

After this in­ci­dent, Amer­ica did what Amer­ica does. Amer­i­cans are once again at odds with each other. Peo­ple throw out statis­tics, like of­fi­cer­in­volved shoot­ings and FBI crime statis­tics, to at­tempt to make a point. (For the record, when peo­ple say more white peo­ple are killed by po­lice than African-Amer­i­cans, that’s still a prob­lem. Say­ing this only proves that po­lice bru­tal­ity is some­thing that needs to be ad­dressed.)

Any­way, back to my Face­book spat. I won’t share the per­son’s name be­cause the name isn’t im­por­tant. I don’t know them per­son­ally. The rea­son for the spat was over June­teenth, which was June 19. June­teenth is a hol­i­day that is ei­ther cel­e­brated or ob­served in all but three states. On June 19, 1865, U.S. Army Ma­jor Gen­eral Gor­don Granger is­sued an or­der from Abra­ham Lin­coln that all slaves in the state of Texas were free. June­teenth be­came a Texas state hol­i­day in 1980.

While it’s ei­ther cel­e­brated or ob­served in 47 states, a lot of peo­ple might not know about it. I didn’t know about June­teenth un­til I was an adult (thanks, Arkansas pub­lic schools), and many adults to­day don’t know about the hol­i­day or its ori­gin.

So, I saw a com­ment on a post from some­one say­ing that June­teenth is not “a big deal” and the only rea­son why peo­ple are cel­e­brat­ing it is to sup­port a nar­ra­tive. What that nar­ra­tive is, I have no idea. I saw an op­por­tu­nity to ed­u­cate some­one about June­teenth, and I took that op­por­tu­nity. What en­sued left me baf­fled and slightly an­noyed.

This per­son dis­re­garded June­teenth hav­ing sig­nif­i­cance by say­ing it is only gain­ing trac­tion due to busi­nesses and “white apol­o­gists” mak­ing it into a big deal. They then went on to say that days like Vet­er­ans Day, Flag Day, Vic­tory in Europe Day, Vic­tory in Ja­pan Day, and even the Holo­caust pass by each year with­out so much as a blink. This claim is en­tirely un­true.

I tried mak­ing light of that claim by say­ing that restau­rants hook me and mil­lions of other vet­er­ans with free food ev­ery year on Nov. 11. The re­sponse was that the per­son found it “sad” I had such a “pa­thetic out­look” de­spite be­ing a vet­eran. How dare I have an out­look that goes against some­one else’s world­view! I went and did it again. I com­mit­ted “wrong­think.”

Please pay at­ten­tion to this next part care­fully. Those who have served swore an oath to sup­port and de­fend the Con­sti­tu­tion of the United States. This means ev­ery per­son who has ever served in the US mil­i­tary swore an oath to pro­tect all free­doms we en­joy in this coun­try. Peo­ple don’t have the op­tion to only de­fend the free­doms they like.

Too many times, peo­ple claim that burn­ing an Amer­i­can flag or protest­ing dur­ing the na­tional an­them is dis­re­spect­ful to our mil­i­tary. It isn’t. As a vet­eran my­self, I will tell you that this is not dis­re­spect. Some sac­ri­ficed ev­ery­thing so that peo­ple in this na­tion can en­joy all free­doms guar­an­teed by our Con­sti­tu­tion.. Also, if you are not a vet­eran, you have no busi­ness speak­ing for us.

My daugh­ter came to visit me last week. She lives in St. Louis, Mis­souri, with her mother. I’m not her bi­o­log­i­cal fa­ther, but she is mine as far as she and I are con­cerned.

She ar­rived last Wed­nes­day and stayed un­til this past Tues­day. As al­ways, the time goes by way too fast. But I was glad to show her around Bal­ti­more and Wash­ing­ton, D.C. One thing I wanted to do is take her through Bal­ti­more City and show how the ef­fects of seg­re­ga­tion from a cen­tury ago are still present in the city. Bal­ti­more is ob­vi­ously no longer seg­re­gated, but the ef­fects of do re­main.

We went to Wash­ing­ton, D.C. on June­teenth. This wasn’t planned. In­stead, I de­cided I’d ask if she wants to see the na­tion’s cap­i­tal. She had never been be­fore last Fri­day. I took her to see the US Capi­tol build­ing and the White House, and we went to see some, but not all, of the mon­u­ments. We did a lot of walk­ing that day and we were beat.

Black Lives Matter protests took place in front of the White House and at places on the Na­tional Mall. We were in a crowd so I told her to put on her mask, and I put on mine. This is al­lergy sea­son. While watch­ing the protest in front of the White House, I be­gan to cough. I was get­ting looks from peo­ple who were also mov­ing away from me, so we left the protest.

Tak­ing her to Wash­ing­ton,

D.C. is some­thing I have wanted to do for a long time. She turned 14 this month, and she’s get­ting old enough where she can un­der­stand our na­tion’s his­tory. Her mother and I both are mak­ing an ef­fort to ed­u­cate her.

* * *

I am sad­dened by the state of af­fairs in Amer­ica to­day, par­tic­u­larly in pol­i­tics. Ra­tio­nal dis­course is dead. Can­di­dates are pro­moted and de­fended by sup­port­ers crit­i­ciz­ing and at­tack­ing their op­po­nents. We look up to politi­cians as if they were our fa­vorite celebri­ties. We fol­low po­lit­i­cal par­ties as if they were sports teams.

I long for a day when our mil­i­tary is not spread thin around the world, when we are not drop­ping mu­ni­tions over mul­ti­ple coun­tries in the name of coun­tert­er­ror­ism, re­sult­ing in loss of in­no­cent life.

I de­sire a gov­ern­ment that does not pick other na­tions’ lead­ers, doesn’t in­vade the pri­vacy of its own cit­i­zens, and doesn’t bur­den fu­ture gen­er­a­tions with end­less moun­tains of debt. The gov­ern­ment is too big, too pow­er­ful, and too cor­rupt. Pres­i­dents ex­pand their power while Congress lines its pock­ets.

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