I was driving my niece, Meira, to a place she had to go to Friday morning and had the car radio going when I heard the story of the funeral services being held for the Baton Rouge, La., man who was gunned down by police recently.
There was the time about a week ago that this WAS the focal point of public debate. But with another such incident in Minneapolis, followed by the shooting of police officers in Dallas, and now that truck going out of control and managing to kill seven dozen people in Nice, France, it makes me wonder if all of this is now reduced to ancient history.
OR AT LEAST “ancient” by the standards of people who rely on snippets of information off of Facebook postings to get their view of the world.
It makes me wonder how soon will people be complaining about how we’ve forgotten about what happened in Texas just last week because we’re now more obsessed with France – an incident so profound that Republican presidential dreamer Donald Trump felt compelled to downplay his vice presidential announcement.
As though anything involving Mike Pence of Indiana could upstage what happened in France this week.
In that incident, someone drove a truck into a crowd that was gathered for Bastile Day. Not the first use of a truck to wreck havoc – let’s not forget in 1995 when Timothy McVeigh used a truck full of explosive material to take down the federal government building in Oklahoma City, Okla.
FOR THOSE WHOSE sense of history or foreign affairs is less than informed, Thursday was the French holiday the equivalent of our own Independence Day. It celebrates the day in 1789 when revolutionaries seized control over the Bastile (the castle used as a prison by French royalty).
I’ll admit that my first reaction to learning of the incident Thursday night was to think to myself how thankful we should be that we didn’t experience something similar in this country 10 days ago.
Just think how much mileage it would have got in terms of public attention if the celebration of U.S. independence had been tainted with a violent outburst somewhere?
We’d probably be going on and on about the “arrogance” of some foreigner to try to taint our celebrations. Which ought to be the same reaction we feel to what happened in France.
FOR IT WAS an attack on Western society, similar to how the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 in New York and suburban Washington were larger than just those cities or even this country.
But we shouldn’t let this drown out our own problem in this country when it comes to race relations – a problem that seriously undermines our society’s ability to claim any sense of moral superiority over the rest of the world.
I don’t doubt that those foreign interests that plot out such attacks probably view our own racial hang-ups that were at the heart of disputes in Dallas, Baton Rouge or many other U.S. cities (including Chicago) as evidence of our own moral decay and all the more reason why their viewpoint is preferable.
Which ought to be all the more reason we try to work in this country to resolve our own problems. We don’t need to be giving the alleged terrorist element any reason for them to think they have the high ground in this global debate.
THE SAD PART is that our normal reaction causes this limited attention dispute. Nice will invariably take away some of the amount of brain matter we can devote to Dallas, or the happenings elsewhere.
Just as the next incident will invariably make us remember that something happened in some French city, although we’ll probably have a hard time remembering exactly which other – other than it wasn’t Paris!
There was one plus, however, to the happenings of Thursday as they spilled over into Friday – they wound up detracting from Trump’s attempts to maximize the level of public attention he’d get from his V-P announcement.
Which itself was meant to undermine all the failed efforts that were made by certain Republicans to undermine the Trump nomination come the GOP presidential convention come next week in Cleveland.