At the very least, the terrible events of the last few days tell us that there is way too much violence in America.
On this grim morning, we are reeling at the deaths of five Dallas police officers and the wounding of seven more, targeted simply for doing their jobs: protecting the peace. In this case, protecting the protest of some 800 people gathered in fury and grief over the killing of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota at the hands of police, a scenario that seems never to end and that tells us that something is deeply wrong in our country.
It was a peaceful protest. Just like the protests that arose yesterday in Baton Rouge, St. Paul, Chicago, New York and a hundred other places. It was peaceful until an unknown number of snipers with rapid-fire rifles, all too easily obtained in this land of the free, opened fire.
Those snipers — one of whom was killed by police, but not before saying that he was “upset over Black Lives Matter,” “upset about the recent police shootings” and that he “wanted to kill white people, especially white officers,” according to the Dallas police chief — attacked not just a police department that was taking strides to improve its relations with its community, they attacked our democracy.
They completely undermined and destroyed the message of those protesters. They injured two of them, reports indicate.
They attacked all of us who hoped that the nation could work toward improving the fraught relations between our police forces and black America in a thoughtful way. Now any dialogue becomes infinitely harder. So does any soul-searching.
President Obama, whose ascension to office was widely misunderstood to mean that we had arrived at a so-called end to racial issues in America, rightly called the Dallas ambush a “vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement.” And though the reasons for these police murders can be understood, there can be “no possible justification” for them.
An eye for an eye, as a wise man said, leaves everyone blind.