The common thread underlying the riots, COVID, China, Twitter and Trump

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The recent spate of shocking news—rioting in Minneapolis and cities across the country, 100,000-plus COVID-19 deaths, unprecedented tension with China and President Trump’s escalated ranting and bizarre-o battle with Twitter—may seem disparate and complex.

And yet underlying all of this is a single, simple thread. It is an obstruction of truth by those with a personal or political agenda. In a way then, all this news is really one story. It’s about how we’re being distracted from facts and real underlying issues. This clouding is what makes our complicated world that much more difficult to sort out and so too staking a middle ground.

Duh, you say. It’s always been that way.

No, in fact, it hasn’t.

As Americans we yearn for the truth. It’s our nation’s ambition. And yet we are failing in ways we haven’t before. As often happens in situations like this, we’ve slipped into the mire incrementally, making it seem like we haven’t sunk that much.

But we have, in terms of finding common ground and national beliefs, as well as in civil discourse. Now it’s come to a head. There is serious stuff happening in America. And summer is coming.

Three hundred twenty-eight years ago, in the winter of 1692/1693, the colony of Massachusetts hung 19 citizens (14 were women) in the town of Salem for being witches. Those people were murdered. Today that sounds as horrible as it does preposterous. Confronting a historical stain like that, we take comfort in our societal evolution. But truthfully, while we’ve changed in many ways, in some we haven’t.

The murdering of unarmed black Americans in this country, yes by police officers, is a national disgrace. And the worst thing about these killings is that they just keep going on and on, with no end in sight.

Any reasonable person has to be outraged. Brian Kemp, Republican governor of Georgia, said the murder of the unarmed jogger Ahmaud Arbery was “absolutely horrific and Georgians deserve answers.” 

That is the truth, governor.

The killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, major flashpoints this past week, are inexcusable.  I know that being a police officer is an extremely difficult job with huge amounts of danger and split-second decision-making. I can only imagine what it is like and I have deep respect. But the police are called law officers. They are there to protect us. All of us. The default is not to kill.

In explaining these killings, extenuating circumstances are often raised: “We thought he had a gun. He appeared dangerous. He was threatening me.” In each case, maybe. But how, truthfully, to explain the numbers in total?

This article was originally published on

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