Sunday, May 31, 2020

Another Virus Is Spreading

Covid-19 has killed hundreds of thousands.

Racism has killed millions.

Only one of them is presently curable, but it looks like we're spending more time and money on the one that isn't, despite the fact that it's only been around for a few months. We are now in the middle of both a pandemic and an epidemic, and there's no national leadership to get us through either one of them.

The death of George Floyd is far more than a reminder of how deeply racism infects the United States. It's an indictment of how some police officers act when allowed and enabled to abuse their power, and how many citizens express their frustrations and anger. I don't want to see any violence or rioting, but when the courts and the police and the power structure and the economy and now the virus clearly demonstrate how prejudiced they are against African-Americans, it's no wonder that many see violence as the only way to get the attention of those who have been willfully and culturally ignorant of their discrimination.

The key will be what happens when the violence ends. Right now it's easy to focus on the immediate events and the terrible images we see hour by hour, but that will eventually stop. That's when the real work begins, and if history is any guide, we are in for a long struggle. The president has spoken to the Floyd family, but at the same time he's sent threatening Twitter messages that hearken back to the bad old days of white resistance to civil rights laws. His past messages and actions have done very little to send a message that he can lead on this issue.

And Joe Biden will need to be more forceful, more specific, and more responsible with his responses and proposed solutions. His record on racial issues is far better than the president's, but Biden has to provide workable policies that move beyond community outreach or complaint review boards, which have shown to be effective when they are given the power they need, but otherwise are forgotten after the tempers cool.

But of course the best solution is for all people who oppose the president's policies to register and vote this November. The first step is to march and let people know that these actions are unacceptable. The second step is to vote. There is no excuse not to.

For more, go to www.facebook.com/WhereDemocracyLives or Twitter @rigrundfest

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