We don’t need future historians to look back to see what we already know: that even after celebrating the fourth of July this past week, America is a split nation, and therefore, a dangerous nation. But how will the historians interpret our split of each half hating the other half?
Will they record that we took the dangerous, grim path of the French Revolution’s “By any means necessary,” or that we took the path of hope born of being thankful for America and work instead to heal the split and not make it wider?
Will future historians speak of us, as was spoken about the early 20th-century civil war in Spain: the chilling conclusion the modern Spain that emerged “has nothing to do with what either side fought and died for.”
At least the U.S. ended slavery and segregation and set us on the path of our yet unfinished project of fully legalizing civil rights, unfinished due to violence against each other and remaining legal barriers.
But how will they say we handled such shootings as those in Minneapolis and St. Paul? As of the writing this column, the top of community and government leaders, and profit and nonprofit leadership, have too often been silent.
In some areas of the Twin Cities — such as East Side St. Paul and Northside Minneapolis — people talk about sleeping in their bathtubs because of the death and injury potential from spraying bullets.
I ask again, what is the anger that seems to be driving violence in America? The Star Tribune, the Sunday before the fourth of July, highlighted statements by Minnesota Attorney General (AG) Keith Ellison, who talked about the hatred that is poisoning rural Minnesota as if such hatred is new? It isn’t new. The AG knows that for the 12 years he represented the Fifth Congressional District, it was long a hotbed of casualties and violence.
The Star Tribune’s article is an exception to the usual silence, whereas news stories and columnists of the MSR have regularly reported on the violence, hate, and biases reflecting on America’s unfinished project of evolving into united we stand instead of malice toward others.
A great cause of this sense of anger, frustration, and betrayal is the election of Donald Trump, as seen by the antagonism toward him by both Democrats and Republicans, and his support by leading religious groups — whether Roman Catholic, Protestant, or evangelical.
Both Democrats and Republicans fostered policies that led to 60,000 factories closing, sending millions of America’s jobs to China, Mexico and beyond. Now, hundreds of thousands of immigrants arrive to take existing jobs, playing ping pong with the Census and put energy into destroying, rather than building. Will our middle class continue to disappear as the southern border opens ever wider to new arrivals coming like a flood across the Rio Grande?
The debate continues whether to heed Abraham Lincoln’s prophetic words of “United we stand, divided we fall.” Will we go forward with “malice toward none” or pay, again in Lincoln’s words, the “full measure” of “lives and treasure” if we continue with malice?