Dallas: Today is not the day for politics

Fox 4

Politics must take a back seat this morning as we face the horror of five dead police officers, 11 total shot, 6 injured, after a Black Lives Matters peaceful protest in Dallas Texas went horribly wrong.

The Dallas police department said at least two to three snipers were involved in the open assault on the officers Thursday evening during protests over two fatal police shootings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota.

Shock and offers of prayers were soon over shadowed.

{mosads}In fact, reaction was brutally swift and callous by hardliners on both sides of the aisle on social media, in the race to blame their political opponents policies, values and personalities for the senseless deaths of officers in charge of keeping a peaceful protest just that: peaceful.

We need to stop doing this to each other.

Their deaths were not the fault of the NRA, or Barack Obama, or the protestors in downtown Dallas.

And, for added measure, because we always go there: all white people aren’t racist, all minorities aren’t suspect, all cops aren’t bad and everything that happens isn’t always politically motivated.

We need to stop doing that to each other as well.

How did we get here? It’s a long story, but the short version is divisional politics; both parties do it. Why? Because it’s how you win when your country is split 50-50. You make your opponent so repulsive that voters don’t show up for either of you and you drive your base to the ballot box.

It’s a method that has slowly eroded our trust with politicians, with people who are different with us and has given us a knee-jerk reflex to always want to blame the other guy, because our ‘leaders’ have been doing that method all of our lives.

That division been accelerated by social media, non-stop cable news networks and a lack of cultural touch tones that connect us.

Republican policies didn’t cause Thursday’s tragic night to happen, neither did the Democrats. But that didn’t stop former GOP congressman Joe Walsh from tweeting this absurdity:

“3 Dallas Cops killed, 7 wounded. This is now war. Watch out Obama. Watch out black lives matter punks. Real America is coming after you.”

Luckily, brevity and sanity came from Truman Project CEO (and former solider) Mike Breen, who shot down Walsh’s rant with this tweet:

“Every ‘real American’ thinks you’re an absolute disgrace tonight. Thank God this country is better than you are.”

Democrat absurdity was no different. Wil Wheaton, an actor and liberal blogger, tweeted simply “F*** the NRA”

You want to know what the protestors at the scene were doing while partisan hacks were using keyboards as hate weapons? Thanking the Dallas Police Department for serving them and protecting them, even as their brother and sisters in blue lay dying on the streets.

While some people wanted more hate, wanted more division, wanted to prove that once and for all their side was glorious and the other side was at fault; the black Dallas police chief and the city’s white mayor were fighting back tears and working to protect a city with an active situation still under way.

Breen is right. This country is better than Walsh or Wheaton; but we have been so conditioned in the current state of politics to run to our ‘team’ jerseys of red and blue on every issue, that we forget that we are supposed to be all together in the face of tragedy.

Tim Fullerton, once part of team Obama in 2008, initially tweeted “FYI-tonight we saw why the NRA’s open carry law is so wreckless (sic).” A mild, but still politically motivated tweet. When called out for bringing politics into the tragedy too swiftly, he apologized, admitting he recognized that anger at the events made him lash out politically and it was not the time or place to do that.

He later tweeted: “There was too much hate on Twitter tonight: myself included. We need more love between us all to get through this awful week.”

Where has the impulse gone to bring us together towards that remarkable tapestry that is America? Fullerton proved it’s not gone, but that we sometimes need to be reminded. But certainly, it is missing from social media as the go to reaction.

Today, we need to not whip this tragedy into political hay. The footing under our country right now is like quick sand, weakened by social unrest, economic shifts and globalization that have caused chaos and successive, divisive, weak leadership.

The one thing we should be able to rely on is ourselves and our neighbors. Not divided by our otherness, but embracing it as we have done for generations.

We have faced equally troubling, disturbing times that weakened us with social unrest and economic shifts and poor leaders. The sixties in both previous centuries immediately come to mind.

Today is not the day for politics. Today is a day to mourn the lives of fallen officers. Today is a day for reflection, pause and courage. Today is a day to start to make a difference one person, one tweet at a time.

Today, when President Obama addresses this tragedy, he needs to rise above politics and calmly bring the country together – with words that do not take sides or pit us against each other – but instead shows clear-eyed leadership in the wake of a most terrible 48 hours in our country.

Today is not for politics.

Zito is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review editorial page columnist. Contact her at szito@tribweb.com.


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