12. High Anxiety & Civil Strife

As tensions have escalated with a rash of "retaliatory" shootings of police officers in recent weeks, people are feeling increasingly fearful and insecure. If, as a consequence, you've adjusted your behavior or routine out of concern for your personal safety or your family's, your liberty is one casualty of this emerging 'shooting war.'

The United States is passing through a period of acute civil unrest not seen since the 1960s, and Americans are left to ponder the root causes of this unfolding drama. A number of factors play a role — for instance, the militarization of domestic police departments, a lack of accountability for some "peace officers" who trampled the rights of citizens, and a prison-industrial complex with a vested interest in the existing legal system — a system that currently incarcerates 22% of the entire world's prison population.

In the public mind, however, one factor dwarfs all others.

"You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war."
Albert Einstein

In covering police-related violence in recent years, the media focuses obsessively on questions of bigotry and race. Such factors have inarguably played a contributing role in a few cases, but this narrative is reflexively applied in most every case, regardless of the evidence for such motives. So we wonder — does the media's preoccupation with 'race' add a lethal dose of volatile fuel to what might otherwise be a fading fire?

Cries of "racism" sell newspapers and exalt demagogues, but how much actual racism would exist in the absence of an information environment that constantly hypes this lucrative angle? Does this pervasive narrative encourage people to think in brain-dead, collectivist terms (e.g., 'white vs. black,' etc.), while discouraging adherence to the wise counsel of Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil-rights leaders — namely that we should evaluate others on the basis of their character and actions, rather than such irrelevant attributes as skin tone? Is the ubiquitous story line of a "violent, racist America" a self-fulfilling prophecy, one that incites violence rather than curbing it? Does this incendiary portrayal of American society create hostility and division where none would otherwise exist? And, ultimately, who benefits?

We wonder. Peace to you and yours.


Modern Journalism Tee

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