By Brandon Allen
As someone who has worked in journalism and studied political science, I’ve always been fascinated by the comment section on posts from news organizations across the country. Oftentimes, you can see the breakdown of the political spectrum right before your very own eyes. The last three years have been very difficult for me to sit quietly behind while the country and our cities are being torn apart systematically.
I don’t use that phrase lightly. For the purposes of my statement above, systematically refers to the incredibly vile approach that we as Americans have chosen to deal with personal and social responsibility. I wish I could say that this was simply a difference in political or philosophical ideologies.
Americans have a really hard time accepting two universal truths: We must take personal responsibility in our behavior/actions/inactions and we must define a clear understanding of social responsibility. I don’t care what your political, religious or whatever other ideals you maintain, Americans are lazy and we like to brush issues off as if we can not change the outcome so why bother.
The comments sections right now on nearly every news article is damning, at best. This isn’t just an argument about racism in America or even in Kosciusko County. We are leading our country into a whirlwind of hurt. That hurt stems from the misunderstanding of where personal and social responsibility begins (and ends). Whether we accept this fate is not really up to us. We are not the ones who will be responsible for writing or deciphering the historic moments that this year has brought upon our nation. And, we certainly won’t be the ones reading in judgment of the past. After all, when it is our time to leave this Earth, we are only leaving behind the legacy of our lifetimes. Is this really how we want to be remembered in the years to come?
Our history books and our political ideologies have lied to us. The Civil War never ended. There were no winners or losers. Ultimately, we have continued the same argument that brought about the first ships of captured slaves to the shores of this country. Race, religion and discrimination have played major roles in everything that was America and these conversations should be highlighting that simple truth.
The Civil War did not change our behavior. It did, however, open the door to discussion of suffrage and persecution across the nation. For the first time since the founding of our nation, our leaders took to office with the intent to address civil liberties. It came in small waves. Each wave washed away grains of sand that buried our country in the past. In time, conversations took place and laws were enacted to grant civil liberties to POC’s, women, and the LGBT communities. Every few years we discussed and changed immigration laws. Throughout all those conversations there were a lot of back and forth movements. We didn’t always appreciate progress. Only in America can the majority feel as if they are being oppressed when in fact they are the oppressor.
This brings me back to present day. The power of social media and the 24-hour news cycle has changed the way we view the world around us. For me, we lost the ability to have rational, thoughtful conversations during the last general election. The level of hate and animosity is more prevalent and in our faces simply because we are still learning how powerful both the news cycle and social media work together. The comment sections on these articles are worrisome, in fact in some instances far more frightening and dangerous than any amount of violence we have seen thus far.
Another issue with the uprising in violence, whether we are talking about the killings of POC’s or the burning of cities across the nation, the FBI and other organizations are still investigating those occurrences – and have not made many links to either BLM or the ANTIFA movement. Again, those groups would be labeled as violent, terrorist organizations by the system that is unjustly persecuting members of the general population. History also shows us that America once was considered a leader in the anti-fascism movements during both World Wars. Now, our president is defining them as a terrorist organization. He has gone so far as labeling anyone who disagrees or questions him a terrorist. Ironically, this was a method of fascist leaders throughout European history to gain control of citizens.
Whether we agree or disagree with the current administration, we have to ask ourselves what it is that he is adding to the conversation? Sadly, the current administration would like to sweep this all under a rug and make it go away – which tends to be comforting for many of the members in our community as well. I get it. I really do. No one likes to have an uncomfortable conversation. But, not discussing these issues, refusing to acknowledge that there are fallacies in the current system is harmful. It is harmful to the people we share this country with. It is harmful to future generations.
If you read the comment sections, most of the folks in K-County and a lot of folks throughout the country would like you to think that because they have not experienced racism personally that racism is a made-up word to stoke anger and animosity. When, in fact, racism has been a core American value since the birth of this nation (and not just POC, but to other nationalities, religions, and anyone who we could not look at and see a full reflection of ourselves).
Kosciusko County and Indiana are not free of guilt when it comes to racism just because we would like to ignore it. In a not so distant past, leaders from the KKK existed in our community and state. There are links to Grand Dragons that led White Nationalist groups in California – who came from our community.
Even as a white male, I can read between the lines and identify even subconscious racism even if that was not the intent of the comment. For the people that are writing these comments to paraphrase: “Racism isn’t real”, “POC want to be angry about something”, “Can’t you just not be black”, “Don’t expect me to change just because you are uncomfortable”, and those were the closest to kindness I could find.
For the most part, peaceful protests have enriched this community not hindered it. The women who have been organizing the protests have done a wonderful job in organizing and keeping the peace between protesters and counter-protesters who have tried disrupting the efforts these women have made. These women should be commended not demonized by K-county residents simply because of our lack of understanding. As America’s freedoms were achieved through the greatest protest: The Revolutionary War.
The one argument I do agree upon is we cannot undo what occurred 400 years in the past. We cannot even be responsible for what occurred before our lifetimes. What we are responsible for is how we move forward as a nation. Do we really want this argument to continue for another 400 years?
It’s time we call to action – not only from our government but our personal and social responsibility. It is our responsibility as to how we leave this country for the next generation.
It is my hope to find peace and solutions to problems that have existed for decades and even centuries. We do not just owe our neighbors and our community. We owe to it future generations so that they are not faced with the unrest we have seen all of these years.
Brandon Allen lives in Sidney.