Anger this intense needs to be expressed, not met with military response
The current White House occupant would have us believe that the protests are the problem (“President labels violent protests ‘domestic terror’: Tells state he’ll send in military if looting continues,” Page A1, June 2). He is gaslighting us. A lot of people are very angry. Anger this intense needs to be expressed, even at the risk of damage. Anger this intense is explosive when suppressed. To quote Frederick Douglass: “The thing worse than rebellion is the thing that causes rebellion.”
After mere weeks of quarantining, we saw armed white people rebel, and threaten legislators, because they didn’t like being restricted. Black people have never been able to feel completely unrestricted in this country.
It is more than half a century since the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act were passed, and we’re still seeing the painfully damaging effects of systemic racism. In spite of new laws and promises of change, police continue to kill, injure, and maim Black people with near impunity, and job, housing, and financial discrimination continue, if less overtly.
Black people continue to suffer the not-so-mini-indignities visited on them by privileged whites, as seen in what Amy Cooper did to Christian Cooper in Central Park. If Black people, with centuries of abuse and disappointment behind them, erupt in anger, they deserve our respect and understanding for their anger and grief, and our full attention to the dismantling of institutional racism, not repression, and certainly not a military response.
Once protest turns violent, efforts to understand it should stop
Gene Block, the chancellor of the University of California, Los Angeles, assured the UCLA community, regarding George Floyd’s death in police custody, that “we have begun the process of coordinating virtual reflection spaces . . . to try and process what has happened.”
Heather Mac Donald, a contributing editor of the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal, observed that responses to this death rapidly devolved beyond protest or grieving. “Once the violence began, any effort to ‘understand’ it should have stopped, since that understanding is inevitably exculpatory. . . . You don’t protest or mourn a victim by stealing oxycontin, electronics, jewelry, and sneakers.”
Look around. Human nature is deeply flawed. There is no more successful way to govern human passions than the system devised by America’s Founding Fathers.
Human nature is not perfectible. Eternal vigilance and shared civic responsibility are required for the American dream to be a reality for all Americans. If we destroy ourselves from within, we will fundamentally transform — and lose — our country.
Disturbing echoes of 1968
Some of us have seen this movie before. It debuted in 1968, starring Richard Nixon, progressives protesting the Vietnam War, a televised “police riot” in the streets of Chicago, and a splintered Democratic Party.
Nixon rode his “law and order” trope all the way to the White House. Now comes the sequel, featuring Donald Trump bellowing “law and order,” images of a police officer kneeling on a Black man’s neck, peaceful protests turning to rage in the streets, a pandemic weaponized over the wearing of masks and the “right” to crowd beaches and bars, and sullen, disappointed members of the Democratic left who may or may not show up to vote in November.
We can only hope the movie flops this time.
Trump fans the flames — with a Bible
In a time of outrage, I try to keep my temperature under control. The image of Donald Trump holding a Bible over his head, however, was too much for me. The Bible, sacred to millions, offering its story of creation, exile, deliverance, and the triumph of love over tyranny and ignorance, used as a prop by this vulgar, ignorant man, made me feel suspended over some abysmal chasm of meaninglessness.
It seems impossible that this man should be our leader. He must go.
Brian W. Ford
The photo of Donald Trump awkwardly holding a Bible in front of a closed church reminds me of Mike Dukakis riding in a tank.
The power of protesters and police kneeling together
For me, the most potent image from Sunday’s protests against police brutality was that of protesters and police taking a knee together. How powerful it is to see that strength and dignity — more powerful than any physical force. Thank you, Colin Kaepernick.