I was deeply moved as I watched the memorial service for five slain police officers in Dallas last Tuesday, and hope most Americans heed the heartfelt plea for unity that was the main message of those of all races and religions who spoke at the service.
I was particularly touched by the sincere show of mutual respect and unity shown to the nation by Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, who’s white, and black Police Chief David Brown, an inspiring role model for policemen and African-Americans alike. I think their message was even more powerful than those delivered by President Obama and former President George W. Bush. Rawlings and Brown expressed their brotherly love for each other, for the five police officers who were killed by a racist gunman and for their traumatized city.
“We may weep but we will never whine,” Rawlings said while Brown recited the words to a Stevie Wonder love song to express his feelings for his fellow police officers, their families and his hometown. Councilman Adam McGough added the citizens of Dallas want to come together and end the violence. This kind of unity of purpose can bring Americans together against forces of hate and bigotry.
The white mayor of Dallas and the black police chief exemplify what is best about America and Americans. The cowardly black gunman who murdered five white police officers who were protecting anti-police protesters exemplifies the worst among us, people who fan the flames of hate and racial discord. Black racism is just as bad as white racism, and should be denounced whenever and wherever it occurs.
I applaud President Obama for praising the Dallas civic leaders and police officers who work together to combat crime and racial discord.
“In this audience I see what is possible when we recognize we are one American family,” he said. But he hit a discordant note when he mentioned the racist Black Lives Matter movement, a highly inappropriate comment during a memorial service for slain police officers. Inappropriate because some Black Lives Matter militants demonize cops and white people, a bigoted mindset that led to the Dallas police massacre. Violent extremists of all races should be arrested and charged with hate crimes.
“We only need to remember our values,” said former President George W. Bush, a popular Dallas resident. “We’re bound by . . . shared commitments to common ideals.” That’s true because Americans of all races and political persuasions have much more in common than we sometimes acknowledge in the heat of political battles such as the current messy presidential election campaign.
In an Appeal op-ed column, Executive Director Richard McCann of the Nevada Public Safety Officers Association wrote Dallas cops “were gunned down by a coward who was motivated by the same racial hatred for which police officers themselves were being blamed across this nation.” Yes, bad cops and racist killers should be arrested and prosecuted, but we should always support those who protect us from anarchy and violence — the vast majority of American law enforcement officers.
As someone who tried to integrate his college fraternity, roomed with the only black officer in our Air Force squadron, married a beautiful Mexican woman and raised two successful Mexican-American kids, I wish we could see the best in each other rather than tearing each other apart — something I’m guilty of in my columns from time to time. For that I apologize but won’t promise never to do it again. This is an opinion column, after all.
Here in Carson it’s easy to support our local police. Let’s keep it that way.
Guy W. Farmer is a longtime Carson City resident.