We Collectively Are a Failure

St. Paul. Baton Rouge. Dallas. Others. Baton Rouge, in reverse.

The news of the targeted murders of police in Baton Rouge this morning, two weeks after police there shot an unarmed black American, convinces me that we’ve lost any moral authority to chide other countries about their rule of law or their civil rights.

Our Supreme Court bench has a vacancy and has had one for six months now because our elected national representatives in one political party refuse to confirm — or deny — the President’s choice for that Supreme Court vacancy.

That same political party seems to be adopting a party platform of religious extremism and thinly veiled racism while nominating a candidate who is all bluster and bravado. Whatever in that party platform can’t be ascribed to religious extremism and thinly veiled racism is anti-intellectualism in service to selfish, short-sighted business interests, such as the energy industries that are destroying our planet with global warming and the firearms industry that are fueling our racial animosity, our anti-government rhetoric, and our murder rates with their products more suited for war than hunting and sky-rocketing sales of ammunition.

We can’t lecture France about security from foreign-inspired hatred and terrorism; we have our own hatred and terrorism  that is grown at home, too.

We can’t lecture Turkey about coups, sharply polarized populations, and autocratic strongmen; we’ve had sixteen or twenty years of sharply polarized politics and unproductive national legislatures, and the nominally conservative party wants to nominate a would-be autocrat with strongly Fascist tendencies who acts like we have no founding documents preserving civil liberties and a free press.

We can’t lecture the United Kingdom about isolationism or unity when that would-be autocrat wants to build a literal wall to keep unwanted foreign nationals from our southern neighbors out. We can’t lecture Europe about accepting refugees for that very same reason, the polarized half of our country who would keep what is ours, for ourselves.

Many of us have very comfortable lives here, more comfortable than we’d be in some unquestionably failed nation states, such as South Sudan, but that doesn’t mean we ourselves are a functioning government or society. If we can’t keep our government safe from violent opposition and can’t keep our citizens of all races safe from law enforcement forces, if we can’t fill our Supreme Court with Justices and can’t pass legislation on meaningful issues of life and death, we aren’t a functioning society with a functioning government. We just don’t admit it yet.


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