Who are we, after all?

COMMENTARY

Black Lives Matter rally at Vero Beach Heritage Center June 4. Courtesy BUZZ-TV

MILT THOMAS

Life hasn’t been the same for us since mid-March. Before then, we didn’t have to stay confined to our homes because of an invisible menace, nor did the death of another black person in another state being killed by police strike such a nerve.

When we endured the Great Depression and World War II, our country came together for a common cause. Who would have thought that this new combination of threats could drive us apart?

One side sees the coronavirus as a pandemic, the other side sees it, to quote from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, “merely a flesh wound.”  We face proof of that every day going to stores where half the people wear face masks and the other half apparently do not care.

As to the international uproar over George Floyd and police brutality, we see local residents on social media either supporting the protests over the death of an unarmed black man, or supporting the policemen who ended his life, or simply resorting to Jim Crow era segregationist name-calling when they cannot think of anything more intelligent to post.

So with these examples of today’s divisiveness in politics and life, we have to ask ourselves, why are we all here in America?

Is this why our relatives and ancestors from around the world left their homes and came here? No, people have always come here for opportunity and the freedom to live their lives without fear. They came here because our US Constitution guaranteed their rights and freedom from oppression.

When you think about it, there are 330 million people all living here because our way of life was guaranteed, not by one political party or another, not by an army acting at the behest of a dictator, not by a holy book, but by the Constitution. As human beings, the primary factor that distinguishes us from all other life in the animal kingdom, is the ability to unite, not by genetic definition or habitat, but behind a document that to any other species is nothing more than words on paper.

That brings us back to the events of these past two weeks. Why should we care that George Floyd died at the hands of a policeman? Whatever his faults, George Floyd was entitled to equal protection under the law because he was an American. The police in Minneapolis and everywhere in this country are not entitled to kill fellow Americans – because we are a nation of laws. If we cannot agree as a society that these acts are wrong, then maybe the US Constitution really is just a piece of paper with words on it.

2 comments

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