Washington Post Editorial: Even Amid Strife, the Best of America Shows Itself

The Washington Post had a good editorial about how even in conflict the best of the United States is still on display. This post just wants to share that editorial today. 

“There is a higher court than courts of justice and that is the court of conscience. It supercedes all other courts.”

Mahatma Gandhi

Lincoln Memorial at night. 

The other day The Washington Post had a good editorial which pointed out that even amidst strife the best aspects of the United States were still being shown. I read this and admired the optimistic upbeat tone of the editorial and just want to add it to this blog. This is a brief post but I wanted to let people who find this blog focus on its message.

EVEN AMID the tear gas, the rubber bullets, the sirens, the fires, the standoffs, the looting, the “vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons,” the best of America has been visible. People who were angry and scared have acted with peace and compassion, defusing situations by protecting and embracing — sometimes literally — those whom others in their position might have feared.

These peacemakers sought no praise or recognition. A black protest leader in Pennsylvania approached a menacing battalion of police in riot gear to offer them bottled water. “I know you guys are doing your jobs. I’m not mad at you,” he said. The Post’s Isaac Stanley-Becker reported that “from Baltimore to Sacramento, black protesters also were filmed protecting storefronts and placing their bodies before police barricades to preserve principles of nonviolence.” George Floyd’s brother, Terrence Floyd, called Monday for peaceful protest after visiting the site of his brother’s death. “Let’s switch it up. Do this peacefully, please,” he said.

Washington Episcopal clergy, who could have been upset about damage to a historic church near the White House, instead sought on Monday to refocus attention on racism and protester mistreatment.

In Fayetteville, N.C., a line of 60 officers on Monday knelt before a group of protesters “as a show of understanding the pain that is in our community and our nation regarding equality,” the police department said. Protesters, once riled by the show of force, cried and hugged and shook hands with officers, witnesses said.

In Genesee County, Mich., home of Flint, Sheriff Christopher R. Swanson on Saturday took off his helmet and had his officers put down their batons. “We want to be with you all for real,” he said to protesters. “I want to make this a parade, not a protest.” He agreed to walk with the crowd, giving them high-fives along the way.

Officers taking a knee or walking with the aggrieved will not give George Floyd his life back, and they cannot wash away the legacy of racist policing. Some officers have used excessive force in the past few days.

But these gestures prevented tense situations from escalating further. They undermined President Trump’s view that the country is engaged in an implacable zero-sum battle among its factions, in which the goal is for one side to “dominate.” They represent the hard work of pluralistic democracy that Mr. Trump has left to others.

“The waves of protests across the country represent a genuine and legitimate frustration over a decades-long failure to reform police practices and the broader criminal justice system in the United States,” former president Barack Obama said Monday. And, he added, “if we want our criminal justice system, and American society at large, to operate on a higher ethical code, then we have to model that code ourselves,” asking protesters to remain peaceful and translate their fervor into durable change through voting.

It feels like a distant memory, but it’s not so distant, that when the country was riven, particularly along racial lines, the president would speak to more than one group of Americans in a way that dignified their concerns and challenged others to do the same. Today, we don’t have a president capable of such leadership. But other Americans, both famous and unknown, are stepping up and modeling an honorable way to fight for justice.