As I waited Tuesday night to see if anyone from the right side of the aisle in Alabama’s state government would issue a statement or send a tweet or post a Facebook message commenting on the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial, there was one question that kept coming to mind over and over.
Why don’t they care more?
It doesn’t cost a dime to care. Not even in political capital in this instance.
There’s simply no way that you could watch what happened outside the courthouse in Minneapolis on Tuesday, or across the country at various rallies, and not understand that something life-altering had occurred.
Even if you somehow doubted the sincerity of so many Black Americans as they have attempted over the years to explain their fear of police and their belief that the American justice system is rigged against them, there’s simply no way you could watch those emotional reactions — the sighs of relief and prayerful thank-yous — and not be struck by the overwhelming emotion on display.
Those people, they’re Americans. They pay taxes and raise kids and go to church and to school and to ballgames — just like many of us white people.
So why wouldn’t you care more?
Is it politics?
Is that why not one of you could be bothered to spend 15 minutes hammering out a statement for Twitter or Facebook or an email blast? Something to mark the day on which the justice system finally got one right, finally served some justice to a community that has learned to expect injustice?
Because I know you were paying attention. I know because many of you were tweeting and issuing press releases about the case — some of you attempted to use the protests that were sparked by George Floyd’s death to implement laws that infringe upon the constitutional rights of Americans to gather in protest.
So, you’ve been watching. You know the facts of the case. God knows everyone in America has watched at least some portion of the video of Floyd’s murder, with Chauvin’s knee on his neck.
And you know that what happened to George Floyd was wrong. Bad wrong.
And you know the verdict was right. Because there’s no way all those bystanders who were watching that day — who were screaming and yelling and threatening the police because they could see Floyd was in trouble — could know it was murder but the cops didn’t.
So, you knew Chauvin was wrong. You knew the verdicts were right. You knew it was an emotional moment for millions of your fellow Americans and fellow Alabamians.
But not a peep.
I know why. And you know why. And it’s pathetic.
Because the answer to my question is, of course, politics.
That’s why you didn’t comment. That’s why you didn’t reach out. That’s why you don’t care more.
Because it’s more politically advantageous to keep quiet than it is to state the truth in this instance. Staying quiet keeps the base happy. It doesn’t look like you’re criticizing a cop — even one who has just been found guilty of murder.
And that is America’s real racial problem.
For all the blustering about BLM and cancel culture and liberal race-baiting, the actual problem that continues to fan the flames of racial animosity in America is the refusal of so many people to stand up for what’s right. To choose politics over people. To make personal ambition more important than basic decency towards others.
The silence of Alabama Republicans — after so many of them have been anything but silent about this case and the resulting protests — is a prime example. They knew the right things to say. They just didn’t because keeping the conflict alive is far more beneficial for them.
Forget who it hurts. Forget how many of their fellow citizens might die. Don’t worry about what’s right.
On and on we go.
And I have no idea why you don’t care more.