The spring of 2015 has been a tumultuous time for Americans.
Politics and debate are not new and neither are riots and war. However, it is typically the former that resides on America’s shores while the latter remains a foreign phenomenon.
Closed Doors at Home
Historically, when riots broke out in the United States, they were over isolated incidents such as after a sports game, a concert or visit of foreign diplomats. When protests had “a theme,” such as “Occupy Wall Street,” they carried on for a long time, but remained mostly non-violent. Today’s multi-city violent protests over a common cause is unusual.
The black community has had a mixed relationship with police for a long period of time. People on all sides of the political spectrum debate the reasons for the tension between law enforcement and the citizens they are there to protect. No one denies that there is a problem that is capturing more American cities, whether Ferguson, MO, Berkeley, CA or Baltimore, MD.
Liberal arguments have followed two general themes – racism and economic opportunity – which are actually one: Black unrest stems from the fact that a predominantly white populace holds positions of power. The power may be law enforcement (including the police force and lawyers), municipal government, banks or business. They argue that white people’s biases (whether overt or veiled) discriminate against black people.
The racism argument stems from the large number of arrested and incarcerated black people which is disproportionate to their population figures. The Department of Justice report on Ferguson, MO stated that “Ferguson’s police and municipal court practices both reflect and exacerbate existing racial bias, including racial stereotypes…. Evidence shows discriminatory intent.”
Counter-arguments point to the situation in Baltimore, MD where the mayor, the majority of the city council, the head of police and the majority of the police force are black. Yet, an unarmed black youth still died while in police custody and black violence took to the streets.
Regardless of the reason, doors appear closed.
Liberals argue that metaphorical doors to economic opportunity are closed to blacks which create economic hardship and frustration. Conservatives argue that doors are naturally closed to everyone; people need to open the doors on their own. The conservatives do not agree that metaphorical doors of progress are locked because of white bigotry.
Conservatives are focused on physical doors that are closed. Stores which were looted and burned to the ground may never reopen. Both the businessmen and community suffer from the destruction. For their part, liberals use such conservative arguments to claim that conservatives care more about business than about the lives of black people.
But more physical doors continue to close.
Closed Doors Abroad
America’s doors are closing due to violence and political snafus in other parts of the world as well.
In Yemen, the United States closed its embassy doors due to unrest in the country. The Obama administration had been using drones to attack rebel forces for many years, yet the rebels overtook the capital. It would appear that despite America’s outreach to Iran, the Iranians continue to back rebels in Yemen who fight against American allies.
America’s allies in the Middle East are not happy with Obama. While Obama invited the leaders of several Gulf countries to visit the White House to sell them on his Iranian nuclear deal, Saudi Arabia and other countries declined the invitation.
Just months before, it was Obama who snubbed the Israeli Prime Minister on his visit to the US, who similarly disagreed with Obama’s Iranian policy.
Regarding physical doors, both in the US and abroad, people are locked out of public places and embassies because the government cannot protect them. Metaphorically, America seems to be failing its citizens and allies as well.
At least Obama is focused on opening the door with Iran…. to get nuclear weapons while it chants “Death to America.”