Friday, July 08, 2016

Another Dark Day for Dallas

July 8, 2016

Dallas has had dark days. November 22,1963 stands out as the darkest, the day President Kennedy was assassinated. The negative reputation earned that day stayed with Dallas for years. I remember when I first moved to the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, we drove to Dallas to look at the assassination site. Just the drive made me so nervous I thought my heart would beat out of my chest. Fifty years later, I go by it without a thought, which is a pity.

Now Dallas has another blot on its history—last night’s shooting that killed five and wounded seven, most of them law officers. So much has been said about it that I hesitate to add to the mass. Many people have asked an unanswered question—why Dallas? Some suggest it’s the racist divisiveness fostered by Texas’ extremely conservative state politicians. Other suggest it’s because Dallas has so many underprivileged, angry people with access to guns. (One protestor last night was carrying an AR-15 slung over his back—he supposedly came in peace but one wonders.) And then there are those who blame the racist hate-mongering of President Obama. Pardon me? I must have missed that. I find the president one who embraces all people and stresses the need for unity, not division.

So why Dallas? I suspect it was probably happenstance. The angry young man who was eventually killed in a parking garage could easily have been in Chicago, Seattle, Cleveland or Philadelphia. He just happened to be in Dallas. On the other hand I read somewhere that this was a plot hatched some time ago, waiting for an opportune moment to happen. That would certainly make it more sinister, if such is possible.

As a resident of Fort Worth, some 35 miles to the west, I’m not fond of Dallas. The pace is too hectic, the drivers are rude—though I have to add that the restaurants are really good. My feelings are not based on the traditional rivalry between the two cities (Dallas is where the East peters out; Fort Worth is where the West begins). But a recent poll showed Dallas to be one of the rudest cities, while Fort Worth is one of the friendliest. In Fort Worth, though, we feel the impact of events in Dallas and perhaps none more than today.

We tell ourselves that would never happen in Fort Worth, but that’s head-in-the-sand denial. It could as easily have been an angry young man here. We have a peaceful protest planned for Sunday, and I pray it remains peaceful.
Last weekend, speaking on the occasion of the death of holocaust survivor and activist Elie Wiesel, President Obama delivered a message that is particularly meaningful today: He raised his voice, not just against anti-Semitism, but against hatred, bigotry and intolerance in all its forms. He implored each of us, as nations and as human beings, to do the same, to see ourselves in each other and to make real that pledge of ‘never again.’

It’s a message we all need to take to heart today.

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