It was 25 years ago when the average people of a small city in Montana “joined together to stand up to hate when their neighbors were under attack,” as the Not in Our Town website reminds us.
The town was Billings. The neighbors were Jewish, Black and Native American. The attackers were white supremacists. The average people standing up to hate were, for the most part, white people who, like most people of all colors, were offended by racism and anti-Semitism.
That was then. This is now. The city is Kenosha … or Portland … or Seattle. The neighbors under attack are police officers or business people or any white people. The attackers are Black Lives Matter activists or antifa. The average people standing up to hate are — for the most part — missing in action.
What the hell happened to America in the last 25 years?
You will find one clue in this description of what happened in Billings:
“Townspeople of all races and religions found common ground against hate based attacks against their African American, Native American and Jewish families and congregations. Religious and community leaders, labor union volunteers, law enforcement, the local newspaper and concerned residents united in action and spoke loudly against hate and intolerance, proclaiming in no uncertain terms ‘Not In Our Town!’”
In Billings, in 1995, residents found “common ground.” They joined together to stop hate. There was no talk about Republicans and Democrats. There was no talk about how all white people were the cause of evil just because some white people had done evil things. And there was a joining together of people from across many diverse backgrounds. “Religious and community leaders, labor union volunteers, law enforcement, the local newspaper and concerned residents united in action.”
That doesn’t happen anymore. American law enforcement is now caricatured as the Gestapo or as brainless, heartless automatons marching in lockstep to the commands of “systemic racism.” Different communities and different religions are taught not to look for common ground, but to instead wall themselves off from each other in celebration of their own grievances. Yes, celebration. Identity politics has turned Americans into us and them, and we are taught to celebrate “us” and fear “them.”
How the hell can Americans sit back and watch as gangs of dangerous extremists maraud through our cities — burning buildings, throwing rocks, bottles and explosives at police, and attacking the elderly? Why make excuses for the bullies or justify their violence? Looting is wrong. Vandalism is wrong. Lawlessness is wrong. Yet too many people will not say so. Has the country completely lost its moral center in the last 25 years?
If one is being honest, the answer must be yes. Whether it is because of the increasingly self-oriented perspective engendered by social media or because of some intangible such as the deadening of the moral nerve caused by the widespread acceptance of murder by abortion, we may never know. But there is no doubt that a culture that condones violence and lawlessness has lost its way.
Civil rights activist Bob Woodson, whose life’s work has been revitalizing low-income neighborhoods, says that the revolution in our city streets will only make life worse for Blacks and other minorities, and that the rest of America has inexplicably turned its back on its most vulnerable.
“We’re reaching really a level of depravity — when rioters in Portland are locking people in buildings and trying to burn it down and also people are cheering when a Trump supporter is shot to death — I’ve never seen that level of depravity before in this country,” Woodson said last week.
Of course, that level of depravity has been seen before elsewhere — during the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the rise of Nazism in Germany. Americans today run the risk of becoming the “good Germans” of 90 years ago who looked the other way when extremists used brute force to acquire power, when human life became less important than one’s own personal safety, and when civilization gave way to barbarity.
So my question is simple: When will Americans get up from their easy chairs and stand with the people who are victims of left-wing mobs — bullied, intimidated, harassed, even murdered?
Not in our town? How about this one: Not in our country!