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Amid the cacophony of voices screaming for the heads of cops or screaming ‘thug’ at anyone who believes a child with a toy gun shouldn’t immediately be gunned down, a police officer shouldn’t be shot while eating lunch in his patrol car, and a man  shouldn’t die for selling cigarettes, you can almost hear a still whisper: “I can’t breathe”.

No, not the voice of Tamir Rice, Officers Rafael Ramos & Wenjian Liu, or Eric Garner. It is the voice of anyone who chooses to speak for them.

Meanwhile, we hear the voices of ‘leaders’, and friends and family, who insist the ‘problem’ is racism, or favoring of race baiters, or rampant police abuse, or opportunists, or minorities who don’t want to be accountable for their own problems. Any host of things are pointed to: ”look, there it is.” Out of the din comes a whisper: “That’s not it, you aren’t listening.”

On Fox News former New York City Police Department detective Bo Dietl, while completely unaware of it, identified the real problem that has led us to Ferguson, to “What do we want? Dead cops”, to individuals like Al Sharpton being the White House’s point man on all things ‘racial’ and to absolute chaos in NYC and beyond.

Discussing the protests against the NYPD, and the overall anger at and distrust of the police that many people feel, Dietl, summing up the feelings of so many, said “I don’t get it.”  A still whisper responds: “that’s part of why we’ve gotten to this point.”

Also out of the chaos comes folks quick to blame, be it blaming a President for saying “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon”, or blame the police for actively pursuing criminals in areas where crime is actually more rampant and who assume racist intent. There’s a whole lot of blame going around on problems that are symptoms of the real problem rather than causes for it.

Those who deny the nature of the root cause of most criminal activity in poor, primarily minority urban neighborhoods and those who evade the reality of that crime bear the burden of responsibility for the angry Left/Right/black/white rhetoric, as do the opportunistic thugs who capitalize on that anger to justify looting stores, burning down towns, and shooting the police in cold blood.

Also bearing responsibility, though in a different form, are the mental and moral incompetents who cannot fathom the dangers of police work and do not care:

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It is our own rhetoric, our own distrust of those with whom we disagree – our deeply held conviction that those who disagree with us are not merely mistaken but immoral – that got us here, not the thugs, who simply capitalize on our rhetoric to excuse themselves. It is not the opportunists who make a buck or collect a vote from our anger, and it is not a mythical corrupt police force.

Too many refuse to recognize that the urban poor are targeted as criminals – and often are criminals – not necessarily (or only) due to a flawed moral nature on their part (or on the part of the police) but due to personal life choices which harm no one (except themselves) which we have chosen to declare to be crimes. These folks insist that there be no discussion of systemic flaws and unjust laws. They insist that the ‘social good’ of controlling behavior they do not approve of outweighs the damage done to individuals and communities.

Too many also choose to believe that regardless of any genuinely criminal actions on the part of the urban poor (read: actual violence/force) they are victims of a corrupted system and thus innocent of their own crimes. These folks insist there be no discussion of the moral nature of these criminals or the root causes of that nature. They believe the ‘social good’ of understanding the plight of poverty and the recognition of the difficulty of making good decisions when faced with the opportunity to make an easy buck outweighs the need for law and order or the need to have a civil, rational discussion of rampant crime perpetrated in much larger numbers by poor minorities.

There is, however, a voice – quietly whispering: “I want to talk – calmly, reasonably and with moral authority and credibility.”

The single mother whose child sells drugs because it makes him far more money to support his mom and his little sister than a job at McDonald’s.

The wife of a police officer who fears for her husband everyday, a husband who firmly believes that he should be chasing down rapists instead of arresting kids for loitering.

The black professor who recognizes that the poor neighborhood he struggled to get out of now says he’s ‘not black enough’, that he is a race traitor for saying that parents should be married and that kids who grow up without fathers are likely not going to do well.

The social worker who cried to herself at night because yesterday her client – a man who has a child with a woman he is not married to – was forced to move out of the house the couple shared because the rules do not allow him to stay there as he has a non violent felony on his record.

There is a voice uninterested in blame, only in solutions. There is a voice that knows its opponent on political issues is not the enemy but rather the other side of a coin desperate to purchase much needed change. There is a voice which recognizes that anger, frustration, distrust and, frankly, a bit of paranoia – has reached the point of no return. If that voice is not allowed to speak soon it will no longer wish to. Martyrdom, accusations of hidden agendas, and frustrated wishes do not exactly firm up an individuals resolve.

Those with whom we disagree on the issue of how to solve a particular problem may nonetheless be well equipped and informed on the nature of that problem. Perhaps we ought listen a little more closely.

Too many folks, on both sides of the political divide, believe they are the arbiter of moral Truth, and hope we will not listen to one another.

They would ignore laws and regulations which reward parents for staying unmarried yet blame those same parents for their ‘immorality’.

They would blame ‘the system’ for the criminal behavior of poor people rather than the criminals themselves, yet scoff at any suggestion that laws be changed to reward good choices, claiming that such changes are ‘judgmental’. They scoff at those who suggest there be alternatives to a broken education system that has failed to produce folks less inclined to commit crimes, saying such alternatives are racist and steal from poor schools.

They would ignore the immoral nature of laws and regulations which tear apart families, penalize private choices which harm no one, and clog the courts with ‘criminals’ whose only crime is to sell, buy or use a product they do not like, all the while arguing that these non criminals are responsible for their actions and thus the consequences, ignoring the fact that they themselves have made these folks criminals by criminalizing relatively harmless behavior.

They would insist that those who commit crimes, regardless of the nature of those crimes, should not bare the consequences because it’s ‘society’s fault’ rather than the result of the choices of the criminals themselves, all the while insisting that the laws which deem these activities ‘criminal’ not be changed, as they ‘protect the public good’.

Speaking on a different subject the philosopher Ayn Rand spoke of the people who benefit from the status quo:

Whom would these men fear most, psychologically–and least, existentially? The brilliant loner–the beginner, the young man of potential genius and innocently ruthless integrity, whose only weapons are talent and truth. They reject him “instinctively,” saying that he “doesn’t belong” (to what?) {writer’s note: black individual who ‘acts white’?}, sensing that he would put them on the spot by raising issues they prefer not to face.

Rand went on to speak of the moral and psychological torture endured by those who see not just the trees and the forest, but the next entire continent besides:

We shall never know how many precociously perceptive youths {writer’s note: or adults) sensed the evil around them, before they were old enough to find an antidote {writer’s note: or have been suggesting antidotes to wholly deaf ears}–and gave up, in helplessly indignant bewilderment; or how many gave in, stullifying their minds. We do not know how many young innovators may exist today and struggle to be heard–but we will not hear of them because the Establishment would prefer not to recognize their existence and not to take any cognizance of their ideas.

Thanks to independent media and the internet, on the problem of dead cops, warzone neighborhoods and “hands up, don’t shoot” we have been hearing a still voice, whispering: ” I can’t breathe.”

It is the voice of reason in a world gone insane with rage and discontent.

Rand observed that

So long as a society does not take the ultimate step into the abyss by establishing censorship, some men of ability will always succeed in breaking through. But the price–in effort, struggle and endurance–is such that only exceptional men can afford it. Today, originality, integrity, independence have become a road to martyrdom, which only the most dedicated will choose, knowing that the alternative is much worse. A society that sets up these conditions as the price of achievement, is in deep trouble

Indeed.

Sniperhunter2012 would add that a society which believes that the rule of law should be trumped by someone’s feelings, by ignorance of facts, or by someone’s mistaken perceptions is in trouble as well. A society which believes that those committed to logic, to facts and to the rule of law are just haters – a society that says those who recognize that perceptions and emotions are irrelevant to Truth or to making decisions are cruel and ignorant – is a society which has gone off the deep end.

A society that believes those committed to reason are the enemy is a society that is doomed.

A false narrative has been presented which says that police target young blacks because they are black, and that young black people are dying in great numbers at the hands of the police. Though the statistics of death by cop do not bare this narrative out matters not to some, as it serves a larger purpose.

There is also a narrative that poor, urban people do not ‘act like the rest of us’, that they shun family, education and hard work for the sake of a welfare check or a quick and easy buck. The narrative is that they feel ‘entitled’. That the ‘system’ which these folks deride penalizes folks for making better choices while rewarding poor ones – that it economically penalizes them for being moral and rational – matters not to those who believe or promote the narrative, as it serves a larger purpose.

In Atlas Shrugged, philosopher and novelist Ayn Rand spoke of the ‘pyramid of ability’ in economics. In her article “The Establishing of an Establishment” she writes:

there is another kind of social pyramid. The genius who fights “every form of tyranny over the mind of man” is fighting a battle for which lesser men do not have the strength, but on which their freedom, their dignity, and their integrity depend. It is the pyramid of moral endurance.

Most of us are not geniuses, but we can nonetheless fight to the extent that we are able. We MUST endure, because time is running out. The thugs and their apologists are getting louder, threatening to drown out our whispers.

It isn’t too late. The voices of reason are all around us, but they are held in a chokehold by our own anger, our paranoia, and our conviction that political opponents are not merely wrong in their ideas, but wrong in their person.

Time to stop falling for the distractive blame game of opportunists on both sides of the divide who benefit from our anger.

It’s not too late to breathe.

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