Hello dear reader(s).
No exclamation point from me today. This is not a happy or upbeat post. The last few days in this country have been scary, and heartbreaking, and completely and totally expected.
That’s right, expected.
My Facebook friends, (most of whom are white, and most of whom have never spent a large amount of time outside of the small city where I was born) lit up my Newsfeed with posts of shock and sadness after the Dallas Police shooting. The sadness I get. The shock?
This is what happens in war. It is why war is so ugly and needs to be avoided at all costs.
So when our government declares war on something in order to disproportionately fight that war in minority communities, when an aide of the President who started that war says its purpose was to target black people, and when you grow up in a war zone occupied by brutal people as you look around and see those other people in uniform running to their defense at all times, it is easy to view them as part of that occupying army.
And if an occupying army is fighting a war that is destroying your communities, sending your young men to private prisons for crimes that white people may never see a cell for committing, and killing your people when it is clearly obvious they are no threat…then what the people who wear that uniform of that army happen to be like as individuals doesn’t really factor in. They are still wearing the uniform of the army you see as a tool of your oppression. And when people feel like there is a war being fought against them, it is only a matter of time before they fight back.
I’m not saying the shooters were right to kill those police officers. But I am saying that we should have seen this coming when we went around teaching our police to be armies on the front lines of domestic “wars”. If you fight a war, you get a war. That’s how it works. Not everyone we killed in Iraq was anti-American. Not everyone we killed in the German army probably supported Hitler. But they were soldiers in a war, in uniform, and as a result they were killed. There are always casualties. There are always attrocities. Police should have never been made to be soldiers in a politically driven “war”.
It doesn’t make it less sad. I am sure that many of the soldiers around the world killed in conflict were terrific people, regardless of the side on which they fought. War is hell. But make no mistake, this is war.
So here is an idea: Why don’t we do everything we can to de-escalate this war?
Instead of judging the combatants, we need to look at the root causes of the conflict. And then we need to fix them. And if we don’t, all the rhetoric, all the finger-pointing, and all the increased legislation designed to protect officers is not going to do anything to stop the horrific tragedies this war creates.
We can start by decriminalizing drug use. We should outright legalize cannabis, and start looking at the rest as a public health issue. We can fund a functioning mental health system in this country. We can provide better opportunities for the neighborhoods our policies have artificially kept in poverty and in fear. We can stop hiring officers who have shown racism, and we can make it easier to fire those officers when caught expressing those views. We can train our officers better and teach them better techniques for potentially volitile situations. We can teach officers to quit taking any question of the law or their authority as a personal attack. We can teach them not to act like an occupying force in foreign lands.
Be sad, be upset, but do not be shocked this happened. This is what war does.