My head aches and my heart hurts while I watch what’s happening in Ferguson.
My heart hurts for the unarmed man who was shot dead in the street, of course. It hurts for the good police officers who are tainted by their more despotic colleagues, and it hurts equally for the peaceful protesters who are sullied by moronic criminals who see the opportunity for mayhem.
But my head aches for America. The response to Ferguson seems to be the response to everything that qualifies as news.
If you have opened up Facebook or Twitter, you’ve seen it.
It is divided. It is loud. It is angry. And it is inconsistent.
Have we really come to a point where we can’t agree that police shooting tear gas at reporters is unacceptable? (I would also add that I don’t know how we’ve come to a point where some of our first reaction to the shooting of an unarmed 18 year-old whom we know nothing about, except that his parents miss him very much, is to smear him, but that’s a different argument for a different day.)
Where are the “strict constitutionalists” as the freedom of the press is being trampled on? Where are the people who will go to almost any extreme to defend their concept of the second amendment when the first is being so viciously ignored?
Ferguson is an extreme example, the moment in the tear gas-filled streets when all of our inconsistencies come to fruition and explode in violence.
But if you have paid attention to the news for even a minute in the past year, you see it every day across all of your social media feeds.
Sometimes our inconsistencies are trivial. Conservatives are so busy attacking the President’s vacation days they forget defending President Bush on the same issue a few years ago. Liberals defending the current president’s sojourns in Martha’s Vineyard can’t seem to remember mocking the former’s treks to his ranch.
Sometimes they are significant. Depending on political persuasion, America’s foreign policy miscues, from the Plame affair more than ten years ago to Benghazi, have shown that many of our loudest voices don’t realize their attacks on one President and defense of another don’t logically match.
It always makes me want to stand up and scream: You ARE them. They ARE you. All of you make the same arguments; you just change them to adjust for your own political beliefs. You’re at fault.
Obviously, the majority of us don’t have this issue. But we all see it because the ones that are inconsistent are also the noisiest. My plea is that before you add to the noise, take one moment and consider: if the politician/person/issue I am attacking was from my side, would I post this?
I’ve always been an optimist about America but it has never been harder than it is today. The day we refuse to find any common ground, we’re lost. And each day it seems we draw our lines further and further apart.
Today, it should be easy to be consistent. It should not matter where you get your news or what your political beliefs may be. Regardless of the facts of this case, we should all be able to agree on two things, because they’re two of the most fundamental rights that make us American.
People have the right to peaceably gather and hold their hands in the air without being gassed or arrested.
Press have the right to cover those protests and show the world the unedited truth without being threatened and arrested by police in body armor.
In the coming days, we can and should have debates about the militarization of police. We can and should demand a transparent investigation into this case. We can and should discuss the racial tensions that very clearly exist even if we choose to ignore them until they blow up in our faces.
But today, let’s show a little consistency. If we’re going to be loud about something, our first amendment rights seem like a good place to start. If we’re going to shout, then let’s shout together that this is America, and these rights are our foundation.
We should all be able to agree on that. If you can’t, walk away from Facebook.