Two conversations are going on about race in America. One side says they live in fear of being harassed or killed because of the way God made them. The second group, mostly conservative, respond with lectures, citing statistics, and posting memes (what a great way to engage in dialogue).
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Instead, the second group should be acknowledging that the fear people are experiencing is real and then find ways to help. Telling someone not to be afraid does not alleviate their fear and is detrimental to establishing a conversation. Here are five measures that could bridge the gap between the Left and Right, on an issue that should not be political.
Disband all police unions. The officer who murdered George Floyd had 18 prior complaints against him. We hear continuously; it is just a “few bad apples.” When those bad apples get in trouble, they are protected by an organization with a mandate to keep its members on the force. The Right rails against teacher unions for protecting bad teachers and not caring about students. The same arguments apply to police unions; they protect awful cops and do not care about citizens. Give cities and towns the power to fire bad employees. Many protestors are calling to defund the police. Instead, defund the organization which protects monsters like the cops in Minneapolis.
Strengthen the fourth amendment. Conservatives love to claim how much they support the Bill of Rights. Lately, they portray themselves up as the champions of free speech and heroes of freedom of religion. The second amendment is also always at the top of their concerns. Now is the time to stop ignoring the fourth amendment. Citizens should be protected from unreasonable searches and seizures. Many police departments, especially in poor (read black), neighborhoods use “pretextual stops” as an excuse to go fishing for more significant crimes. Police use minor infractions as justification to engage with citizens, which leads to vehicle searches and arrests. American citizens should not be subjected to this type of lazy policing and downright harassment. Before some on the Right jump in and say, “but the Supreme Court ruled these stops constitutional,” remember this same court found abortion a “constitutional right.” Those nine justices are not perfect.
Require officers to live where they protect. These protests can feel like it is “us” vs. “them.” Some citizens say that the police are not a representation of who they are, which is understandable when the cops patrolling their neighborhoods do not live among them. An officer who lives in an affluent suburb, but patrols an impoverished area, could feel like he is entering a war zone. At the same time, these citizens might feel like they are being invaded. Both of these scenarios create fear and mistrust. Police officers should be active participants in the communities where they serve and live, especially when they take the uniform off.
Allow citizens to protect themselves responsibly and teach them how. Conservatism believes in personal accountability. We are all are responsible for our successes, failures, happiness, and safety. Second amendment groups should be reaching out to communities of color to provide firearm safety and proper shooting training. Set up trips from cities to areas more friendly to firearms. Show them guns are a tool and how to use that tool responsibly. There is an opportunity to build a bridge and create an entirely new group of firearm enthusiasts.
The DOJ should investigate all officer-involved shootings through the FBI. Something as serious as an officer causing the death of another human being needs to be reviewed by an impartial group. Expecting local departments to remain unbiased is unrealistic. Anytime an officer is involved in the death of a person, the case needs to be automatically reviewed by the FBI. To avoid local tension between jurisdictions, the file should be referred to an FBI field office in another state.
The organization Black Lives Matter is calling for sweeping structural change to America. While disorganized, leaderless, and fragmented, the few policy goals BLM has put forth are both impractical and extreme. People who support Black Lives but do not support the organization BLM need more choices to fight racism than posting black squares on their social media page or donating to extremist causes. Young people want to get involved and fight against racism, so give them alternative options. Conservatives should take these ideas as a starting point and go talk to actual people, engage them in dialogue, listen to their fears, and explore new conservative solutions. Above all, stop fighting on social media and within comment sections. It requires us to engage one another on a human level to affect positive change and promote conservatism. We all deserve to live in a free, safe, and prosperous America.
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