Violence is not the answer to America’s problems

Published 8:49 am Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Not too many miles from here in neighboring Virginia, extremists took the street this weekend. The result was an angry and ugly mob, a reflection of the hate, bigotry, and racism which still exists in this country over 150 years after the Civil War.

The protests carried over to New York City outside of Trump Tower when President Trump arrived late Monday for a brief visit.
There is no excuse for what happened this weekend in Charlottesville, Va. while we as Americans are struggling to explain why violence is so much a part of our daily experience.
There is a culture of violence among a small but destructive minority in our country. It is like smoldering coals and it doesn’t take much for it to ignite. People are angry for one reason or another. There are senseless murders. Bullying goes on among young people. Television shows are filled with violence, and we have a president with a loose tongue.
However, violence, killing people, setting fires, and shooting off at the mouth is no way to end injustice. It only breeds more violence, more hatred.
There is no excuse for what happened this weekend in Charlottesville, Va. Tearing down Confederate statues will not solve America’s problems. The problem goes much deeper. Yes, many Americans are angry and frustrated, signaling that something is fundamentally wrong in this country. Poverty, joblessness, and lack of opportunity are among the problems. There are hurting neighborhoods, “unparented kids,” and too many people who depend on government support. Race remains a huge issue. Not just among African Americans, but Hispanics, and Muslims.
It is time for local, state, and national leaders to meaningfully address the lack of jobs, the huge divide between the have and have-nots, education, skills and prejudice that are helping to hold down so many. We need to find solutions
We can’t expect our police departments to solve these deep-rooted economic and social problems, although they are the people who end up having to deal with them when they erupt in violence.
From the freedom marches in Selma, Alabama, to the Boston Tea Party that sparked the American Revolution, our nation’s history is filled with protests that have made a difference. Courageous men and women who saw injustice and rose up to voice their outrage in the public square have played an enormous role in shaping this nation.
Indeed, the founders saw protest as so fundamental to freedom that it is a right enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
However, our right to protest ends when we infringe upon the rights of others.
The protests in Charlottesville would have been just as effective and far nobler without the violence and loss of life.
The underlying problems behind these protests are real and should be addressed. Inequality in our society is a serious issue in America today. Protesters should be taking to the street and venting their frustration through peaceful demonstrations. It is our right as American citizens to do so, and God forbid that that right ever be taken away.
However, violence is never the answer, and it should not be tolerated. We are reminded of the words of Robert F. Kennedy on the day that Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated: ““What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.”
Americans must remind themselves that the source of their strength always has been charity, love, tolerance and civilized discourse.

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