The Effects of Rhetoric in a Divided Society

The Effects of Rhetoric in a Divided Society

In our increasingly divided society, what are the effects of rhetoric from Black Lives Matter and the Extreme Right? Police shootings and the growing influence of Black Lives Matter have created this new issue for Americans. We have retreated to our respective corners claiming that only the others rhetoric is has the power to incite. But it does not have to be this way?

We expect our police to act responsibility, within the law, and to be accountable if they don’t. That should be an something we can all agree on. Regardless of their color, all people have to be treated equally by the police and our justice system. Both are a priority. Both care achievable if we start talking to each other instead of shouting over each other.

The overwhelming majority of police officers are public servants who want to serve their community. Their first instinct, however, is to cover for their own when something goes wrong. Black Lives Matter have a right to peacefully protest for changes in our laws. Just like everyone else, officers breaking the law must be accountable. Much of the anger is directed at police, yet most of the frustration is caused by the actions of prosecutors. The public are not allowed to appear in front of a grand jury to submit a defense when they commit a crime. The prosecutor does his best to indict us. They do not present any evidence in our defense.

The distinction between illegally armed and legally armed means our police must be trained to make arrests without deadly force. The shooting of someone unarmed brings more clarity. Many police forces around the world do not even carry guns on their beat. It is possible to train police officers to make arrests without the routine use of firearms. Screening, training and more community policing can solve these issues.

When it comes to the recent spate of shooting of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge it only heightens the need for change not only in policing, but in the lack of availability for mental health care. We send our young men on endless deployments, train them to meet violence with violence, then leave them without the mental health care they need, and act surprised when they do exactly what we trained them to do. The high percentage of officers involved in shootings, and those involved in shooting the police, are vets. This is not a coincidence. There is plenty of blame to go around on both sides of theses issues, but most are fixable if we everyone is willing to acknowledge their portion of the blame.

The problem, as always, are those with the loudest voices and no solutions. Many on the right have claimed that Black Lives Matter rhetoric was to blame directly for the deaths of the police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge. Extreme rhetoric on abortion and Planned Parenthood does not induce the same proclamations. The Colorado shooting at Planned Parenthood in Colorado resulted in the killing of a police officer and two civilians, and five police officers injured, but saw claim of responsibility from the right. Nor did the killing of abortion doctors. When police officers are targeted, Black Lives Matter must speak out loudly and emphatically.

The right claims no responsibility for vile rhetoric and signs at their rallies, so BLM are not responsible for a few bad apples at predominantly peaceful marches. No mentally stable person is going to act solely on someone else’s rhetoric. It takes an engrained prejudice and hatred, combined with serious mental issues, and more likely a voice in their head than a voice on TV to make someone take the like of another and destroy their own life in doing so.

Wil Donnelly


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