What's Wrong With Our Country

What's Wrong With Our Country

The question that everyone seems to have an answer to, and is more concerned with proving why they’re right instead of trying to actually fix the issues.
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Computers, cell phones, cars, houses, a college education. What do all of these items have in common one might ask? They seem to have value. They mean something to our society. Our small minds have dispensed a big portion of the attention we possess to these so called valuables. We willing devote our time, our money and our attention to these tangibles because we have deemed them worth it.

Where there is one list there is always another, so on the flip side let me give you a list of items that do not seem to have value in our society. Human life. Wow, that’s a pretty short list isn’t it? In our desire to own and worship all of these objects we have begun to objectify ourselves. Life has lost its worth. Death has lost its sting.

That’s why we know the name Philando Castile. That is why we have Alton Sterling cases. That’s why someone took the opportunity to turn a peaceful Dallas protest into the massacre of officers ending the lives of five people. Life is worthless. Someone else’s life is worthless. This is not an issue of race. It is not a problem of civil rights or racism from both parties. This is not an issue of politics and taking the correct political stand. This is the product of a nation who is swift to decide blame. A nation who believes it is better to respond in the heat of the emotion-heightened moment than it is to stop and evaluate situations. This is a problem of both officer and civilian matter.

We are a nation with officers who go on average, though it varies by state and department, 19 weeks to an academy and expect that and some mentor training to be enough preparation for the intense situations they will face day-to-day on the job. We are a nation who sings along to rap songs degrading and disrespecting the very men and women we call when we need help. We are a nation that turns peaceful protesting in to looting in the name of some sick and twisted justice. We are the nation that chooses to honor the fallen societal members by blasting their last moments of life all over the internet. We are a nation that would rather argue over gun control and our amendment rights than focus on the fact that we have no rights when we are dead. We are the nation that repeatedly uses the phrase “people kill people” as an excuse without realizing how utterly true and disgusting those three words are. It’s not just one group’s fault and we can’t just keep killing each other and pointing fingers.

The Washington Post reported in early January of this year that the 50 biggest cities in the nation had an increased homicide rate of nearly 17 percent in 2015. With the media being so immensely focused on pushing political agendas and selling stories, it is hard to narrow down those homicide numbers to the past six months because we as a country seem to only be interested in the deaths that involve bigs guns and hate crimes. Regardless of weapons or motive, one idea rings clear through all of these tragedies- our response is to kill. And, while as a society we would eagerly like to pretend we know the rational behind these situations, whether or not the decision to end a life was made for the sake of vengeance or out of fear can only be determined by the killer himself. You know, that’s a word we don’t hear a lot anymore? We’re much more concerned with labeling the life-ender a shooter, an officer, or a terrorist. I guess killer doesn’t have such a sting. Despite the external components of these issues- the name we call, the verdict we give, the excuses the accused provide — the problem is the internal immunity we have to caring for anyone but ourselves. We seem to walk around this earth in three states; oblivion of the turmoil we live in with the chirps and dings of our social media profiles distracting us, upheaval and unrest about the latest tragedy and political argument our friends our posting about, or fear of the opposition taking the only thing we truly have, the thing we seem to only think about moments before it is taken from us. We don’t evaluate and we don’t think critically. We have created a society stuck in the middle of some false dilemma.

The truth is, I’m done caring about the statistics of black on black crime. I’m done caring if more police officers died by the hands of a white guy than they did by the hands of an African American. I’m done caring about the Black Lives Matter movement or the Blue Lives Matter movement or the next movement that will just be a furthering division among the people of our country. What I do care about is human life. I care about the people on this planet and more specifically in this country. I care about the chance they have at making something of themselves. I care about the only thing in this life we are entitled to: opportunity. This country is one of the few where you have the chance to become whatever you want, regardless of your political beliefs, your personal morals and the excuses you’ve made for not doing so yet because of your skin color, or gender, or sexual preferences, or financial status. If you want something bad enough, if you’re willing to work for it, America is where you can achieve it; and if you don’t believe me you should take a look at where some of our finest started out.

But, you can’t do it if you’re dead. So let’s start leaving our futures and our destiny's up to each other and stop making martyrs and murderers out of ourselves. Stop living in the era of fear and hate and start trying to compromise. Are we going to agree on everything? No, but let’s stop fighting for the sake of fighting. As white people, as black people, as hispanics, as every orientation, can we just start being people? Not republicans or democrats. Not gays and straights. Not majorities and minorities. Not officers and civilians. Just people respecting other people.

I can name off several intelligent and world-altering individuals who spoke of the dangers of violence for the sake of violence. It gets nowhere. It has gotten us here, a place that I think we can all agree is pretty devastating. So let’s end it. Let’s stop arguing about it and starting talking about it. Let’s start conversing about solutions and offering condolences instead of sharing "witty" negative remarks. If you’re an officer being subjected to unfair stigmas — and trust me, I believe they are unfair — then go out and put forth the effort to do a random act of kindness to change them. I know your plate is already pretty full, but don’t let the only thing the news has to report be that of you ending a life. If you’re an African American being subjected to unfair stigmas — and trust me, I believe they are unfair — then go out and prove everyone wrong. Encourage each other to rise up with your words and not your fists and stop letting your legacy be defined as one filled with violence- even the violence committed against you, because I’ll be the first to acknowledge that you’ve had your share of historical injustices. Let’s spread a little more hope and a lot less hate, because at the end of the day no agenda matters. At the end of this week, seven families are mourning a death. No anti-gun lobbyist wins. No race group wins. Lives were lost. People lose, humanity loses.
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Ilhan Omar Is at Best Foolhardy and at Worst, Yes, Anti-Semitic

Her latest statements seem to lack substance, motivation, or direction.

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I find the case of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) to be a curious one.

Specifically, I am referring to the recent controversy over select comments of hers that have generated accusations of anti-Semitism. In all honesty, prior to doing research for this article, I was prepared to come to her defense.

When her comments consisted primarily of "Israeli hypnosis" and monied interest, I thought her wording poor, though not too egregiously deviated from that of most politicians in the current climate of bad behavior. After all, Israeli PACs surely do have a monied interest in the orientation of United States policy in the Middle East. Besides, if President Trump can hypothesize about killing someone in broad daylight and receive no official sanction, I don't see the need for the House of Representatives to hand down reprimand to Rep. Omar for simply saying that Israel may have dealt wrongly, regardless of the veracity of that position.

And yet, seemingly discontent that she had not drawn enough ire, Omar continued firing. She questioned the purported dual loyalty of those Americans who support the state of Israel, while also making claim that the beloved former President Obama is actually not all that different from the reviled current President Trump.

In short, the initial (mostly) innocuous statements about the United States' relation with Israel have been supplanted by increasingly bizarre (and unnecessary) postulations.

Those latest two controversies I find most egregious. Questioning the loyalty of an American citizen for espousing support for a heavily persecuted world religion and in defense of a refuge for practitioners of that self-same religion that has existed as an independent state since 1948, seems, in really no uncertain terms, anti-Semitic.

After all, is it not her own party that so adamantly supports persecuted Palestinians in the very same region? Is it not she and fellow Muslim Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) (who is not without her own streak of anti-Semitic controversy) that have rejected challenges to their own loyalty in being ethnically Somali and Palestinian respectively? Is her claim not akin to the "racist" demands that Obama produce proof of his birth in the United States, and the more concrete racism that asserted he truly was not? And (if you care to reach back so far) can her statement not be equated to suggestions that President John F. Kennedy would be beholden to the Vatican as the first (and to date only) Catholic to hold the presidency?

From what I can discern amongst her commentary, in Omar's mind, the rules that apply to her framework on race, ethnicity, religion, and culture as sacred idols above reproach do not extend to her Jewish contemporaries.

Oh, and may I remind you that over 70% of Jewish Americans voted for Hilary Clinton in 2016.

And yet, beyond even this hypocrisy, is the strange disdain Omar suddenly seems to hold for Barack Obama. Even as a non-Democrat, while I can find reason for this, it is still largely perplexing.

To begin with, I recognize that Ilhan Omar is not your prototypical Democrat. She would scoff at being termed a moderate, and likely would do the same to being labeled a traditional liberal. While she doesn't identify as an outright democratic socialist, one would have to be totally clueless to avoid putting her in the company of those who do, such as Tlaib or Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).

As such, she's bound to have some critical evaluations of President Obama, despite the lionizing that the Democratic establishment has and continues to engage in. Two points still stick out to me as obvious incongruities in her statement, however.

First, Obama and Trump are nothing alike. Again, this coming from someone who does not regularly support either, I can at least attempt to claim objectivity. While Obama might not have been faithful to all the demands of the far-left during his presidency, his position on the political spectrum was far from the extreme bent that Trump has ventured into.

Secondly, there is the style of the two men to consider. While Obama had his share of goofs and gaffes (I still think it somewhat juvenile that he often refused to say "radical Islamic terrorism" when referring to Islamist extremists) he pales in comparison to Trump. Every week Trump has his foot caught in a new bear trap. Obama is enormously tame in comparison.

And in addition to all of that, one must beg the question of Omar's timing. With Republicans emboldened by her controversies and House Democratic leadership attempting to soothe the masses, why would Omar strike out at what's largely a popular figure for those that support her most? There seemed no motivation for the commentary and no salient reasoning to back it up, save that Omar wanted to speak her mind.

Such tactlessness is something that'll get you politically killed.

I do not believe Barack Obama was a great president, but that's not entirely important. I don't live in Ilhan Omar's district; her constituents believe Obama was a great president, and that should at least factor into her considerations. Or maybe she did weigh the negative value of such backlash and decided it wouldn't matter? 2019 isn't an election year, after all. Yet, even if that's the case, what's to gain by pissing off your superiors when they're already pissed off at you?

You need to pick your battles wisely in order to win the war, and I'm highly doubtful Omar will win any wars by pitching scorched-earth tactics over such minute concerns.

Her attitude reminds me not only of that of some of her colleagues engaging obtusely and unwisely over subjects that could best be shrugged off (see the AOC media controversies), but also some of my own acquaintances. They believe not only in the myth of their own infallibility, but the opposition bogeyman conjured by their status in a minority or marginalized group. As the logic goes, "I'm a member of x group, and being so gives me the right to decimate anyone who has any inclination to stand against me in any capacity, tit for tat." So much for civility.

I initially came here to defend Rep. Ilhan Omar, and I still do hold to that in certain cases. The opposition to some of her positions is unwarranted. She is allotted the freedom of speech, as are all Americans.

And yet, in certain other cases she has conducted herself brashly, and, one could argue, anti-Semitically.

All I can say is that I am content living adjacent to Minneapolis, not in it. You'd be hard-pressed to find me advocating for leadership that makes manifest in such impolitic fashion.

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