As we approach New Year’s Eve, many of us are making our (recurring) resolutions. Going to lose that weight. Going to save for retirement. Going to earn that promotion.
Can I suggest a collective resolution? Can we humans–and especially we Americans–take time off from the national pastime of finger pointing? Instead of trying to prove that “it’s their fault,” (whatever “it” is and whoever “they” are), might we turn our attention next year to actually trying to solve some of the problems we face?
Case in point: When two police officers were killed by a deranged man who claimed to be seeking vengeance for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, a number of right-wingers (most notably Rudy Guliani) immediately began blaming everyone– from the President on down–who had spoken out against police misconduct.
As Kevin Drum noted:
I assume this means we can blame Bill O’Reilly for his 28 episodes of invective against “Tiller the Baby Killer” that eventually ended in the murder of Wichita abortion provider George Tiller by anti-abortion activist Scott Roeder. We can blame conservative talk radio for fueling the anti-government hysteria that led Timothy McVeigh to bomb a federal building in Oklahoma City. We can blame the relentless xenophobia of Fox News for the bombing of an Islamic Center in Joplin or the massacre of Sikh worshippers by a white supremacist in Wisconsin. We can blame the NRA for the mass shootings in Newtown and Aurora…We can blame Sean Hannity for his repeated support of Cliven Bundy’s “range war” against the BLM, which eventually motivated Jerad and Amanda Miller to kill five people in Las Vegas after participating in the Bundy standoff… And, of course, we can blame Rudy Giuliani and the entire conservative movement for their virtually unanimous indifference to the state-sanctioned police killings of black suspects over minor offenses in Ferguson and Staten Island, which apparently motivated the murder of the New York police officers on Saturday.
As Kareem Abdul Jabbar pointedly noted:
The protests are no more to blame for [the shooter’s] actions than The Catcher in the Rye was for the murder of John Lennon or the movie Taxi Driver for the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan. Crazy has its own twisted logic and it is in no way related to the rational cause-and-effect world the rest of us attempt to create.
Can we all agree that in a country that protects free expression, lots of people will say lots of things–none of which cause or excuse anti-social behaviors?
Can we all agree that it is in the best interests of the vast majority of good police officers to root out the bad apples?
Can we all agree that it is perfectly possible to condemn police or prosecutorial misbehavior while strongly supporting good police and honorable prosecutors? (When your kids misbehaved, and you punished that behavior, did that make you “anti-child”?)
Can we take a long look at our inadequate mental health system, and work on better detection and intervention for the minority of the mentally ill who are dangerous? (Failing that, can we at least stop arming them?)
Can we actually do something about the issues we face, instead of looking for someone to blame?
Oh well. I’m still going to try to lose that weight.