There’s been a lot of violence in the U.S. and the world lately with terrorist attacks, mass shootings, police killings of black men, and the killing of police in retaliation. And much of it has its roots in racism, extreme hatred and the misappropriation of religion. But what can be done? Below are some suggestions:
No more semi-automatic weapons for gun lovers. Hunters can keep shotguns and rifles. Handguns are fine with a permit but no more permits to carry a concealed weapon, though. We must resolve to strike down all open carry laws and institute a gun buyback program and extensive background checks. Congress must close the gun show and internet sales loopholes. And the U.S. must hold gun manufacturers liable for certain gun deaths. Finally, the police must be disarmed and police departments demilitarized to gain the trust of the communities where they serve. Community policing needs to be emphasized to focus on building relationships between officers and the people they are sworn to protect. If police working the community beat were unarmed and trained to de-escalate with words, not arms, it would go a long way toward building trust with people. And policemen should not be immune from prosecution for using deadly force when such force was found to have been unnecessary.
First, Congressional districts that have been racially gerrymandered have to be redrawn to give voters fair representation. In addition, the courts must strike down voter ID laws and ensure there are reasonable numbers of polling places to prevent long voter lines. States should all have same day voter registration laws and automatic registration for citizens when driver’s licenses are obtained. We have to make it easier not harder to vote to save our democracy, which has become limited and less responsive to the will of the people.
Second, we must preserve and expand affirmative action laws. Similarly, we must promote more diversity hirings among faculty at colleges and universities and among teaching staff in K-12. And we should adopt Bernie’s vision of Free Community College and State University tuition for low-income students but with built-in supports to ensure high retention rates. Lastly, curricula at all levels need to deal with race in America. The current crop of white-washed textbooks should be banned and burned.
We can’t learn to live together if we don’t live together and learn together. Communities should be required to diversify. Communities and neighborhoods within a city should reflect the general population of the city or town. There should be no more “other side of the tracks” divisions which often produce separate and unequal schools. Mixed housing development stock should be promoted so that people pay according to income and people of mixed socio-economic statuses throughout a city or town live together.
We need to stop the drone killings. “Collateral damage” or civilian casualties do nothing to win the hearts and minds of would be friends in the fight against terrorism. ISIS, Al-Queda, and other terrorist groups do not represent the religious views of the billions of worshipers of Islam, so our efforts should not be framed as a war against Islamic extremists. Terrorist groups use this rhetoric as proof that the U.S. is waging war on Islam and this helps them to recruit impressionable youth. The right, ironically, just like the terrorists, needs an enemy to prove that Christians are being persecuted to advance their theocratic vision of America. They have found the “enemy” in Islam and President Obama. Notice that the conspiracy theorists have argued that President Obama is a secret Muslim who wants to destroy Christianity by refusing to say “Islamic terrorism”, and by preserving the separation of church and state which is a hallmark of a free society.
I forgot who said it, a celebrity, I think, or possibly a comedian, that the best way to deal with terrorism is to kill them with mocking humor. That would do more to destroy their purpose than taking them seriously with all of the military might that we can bring to bear. Look what good that has done us so far. Rather than deploy the special forces, deploy a team of comedy agents. Have something like an SNL, In Living Color, Portlandia road show to tour the world with skits lampooning terrorists.
I also think that there should be a way to ban terrorist and hate groups from social media. Couldn’t some MIT computer science engineers hack into and jam their websites? And aren’t there some CIA geeks who could send a signal that would fry terrorist groups’ electronics. Surely it could be done. Then, like Bin Laden, the jihadists would be reduced to recruiting by cassette tapes, which, of course, few people would even have the equipment to play.
Peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis also has to be a priority. Whether it’s a one-state or two-state solution, if the conflict is not resolved, the region will continue to be unstable which helps to foment violence and terrorist activity.
Finally, the right should stop undermining U.S. diplomatic efforts in treasonous fashion by sending letters to foreign leaders urging them to reject negotiations AND inviting heads of states to address Congress simply to spite the President. Their actions and the hateful and racist rhetoric coming from the Trump campaign in opposition to immigrants, to Muslims, to NATO and the European Union do nothing but further destabilize the world and breed more hate, terrorism, and fascism.
Enough is Enough!