In the days since the deeply troubling shootings of two black men by police and the horrific shootings of five Dallas police officers by a black man, predictable voices have laid predictable blame.
Sarah Palin blamed Black Lives Matter for the Dallas shooting, in which a black terrorist set out to kill as many white police officers as he could.
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick also blamed the activist group, as well as social media and Rev. Jesse Jackson, for suggesting police officers were racist.
Black Lives Matter responded to the Dallas shooting with a tweet: “#BlackLivesMatter advocates dignity, justice and freedom. Not murder.”
That, some could argue, isn’t totally true. At a protest in Minnesota, the group chanted “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon.” Some on Twitter suggested the police deserved the slaughter in the wake of the deaths of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota, and lauded the shooter as a hero. Former Miss Alabama Kalyn Chapman James was sanctioned by her employer, a Florida TV station, after she posted a Facebook Live video calling the killer a “martyr.”
And, as usual, gun control advocates blamed the NRA and guns.
If you listen to all these people, on both sides of this rancorous conversation, no one is to blame for their own actions. Something else is the problem, and that something else is whatever ideology or politic they find most offensive.
And this, in a nutshell, is why body cameras, increasing racial diversity in police precincts and universal background checks will only lead to superficial progress as we go about trying to prevent more of these things from happening again, whether that’s police brutality or attacks on the police.
Too many prefer to cling to the thing that divides us, and precious few are willing to come together over the thing that unites us.
Republicans deserve plenty of blame. And that’s largely because for three election cycles Republicans have depended on the anger of the American electorate to get their candidates elected. And now, in the party’s standard bearer, the GOP has as its mascot a presidential candidate whose idea of unity is indeed uniting … against Muslims, Mexicans, China, the media, Republicans who don’t support him, the Geneva Convention, the 14th Amendment, bimbos and prisoners of war.
But that’s only half the story. Democrats are just as guilty.
After the terrorist attacks in Paris, President Obama, as Time magazine put it, “began the first Wednesday … with a verbal assault on Republicans at a press conference on foreign soil.”
And after the terrorist attack at an Orlando nightclub, the White House used that opportunity again to blame Republicans, this time for having “underfunded our countering violent extremism efforts.”
The Democrats’ presumptive nominee for President, Hillary Clinton, has also made a fetish of division to advance her personal ambitions. At a Democratic debate, when asked which enemies she’s most proud to have accrued, she readily ticked off, “the NRA, the health insurance companies, the drug companies, the Iranians.” And of course, “the Republicans.”
This is coming together? This is healing? This is bridging the divide?
Wouldn’t it be useful for warring factions to hear each other instead of scream at each other? Wouldn’t it be useful, say, for Black Lives Matter to sit down with police precincts around the country? Or for Democrats to meet with gun advocates?
But when you meet with the enemy and genuinely try to understand his or her perspective, you lose the enemy as a political tool. And that’s the eternal obstacle.
Some problems, I believe, are unsolvable. We can’t solve every maniac’s determination to kill. And we can’t populate every police precinct with perfect officers.
But until Democrats and Republicans, blacks and whites, liberal activists and conservative activists decide division is no longer the most valuable unit of currency, there will be no solutions of any kind.
At the memorial for the fallen Dallas police officers, President Obama said, “I’m here to insist we’re not as divided as we seem.”
Sadly, we are. Because division pays.
Contact Cupp at thesecupp.com.
This column originally appeared in the New York Daily News.
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