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Unsettling times in nation, state

We are living in historic, crazy, often frightening times.

The killing of George Floyd was a horrific act played out graphically on television for all to see. Having been caught on tape there was no doubt that the police were in the wrong. What was disturbing was not just the actions of the police officer who placed his knee on the victim’s neck leading to Floyd’s death but also the lack of action on the part of his two fellow officers who acted like what was happening was perfectly normal.

While those two officers may have been inexperienced, having only been on the force a few days, their inaction makes one wonder if what we saw was, if not standard procedure, was at least accepted practice in the Minneapolis Police Department fostered by poor leadership, poor training and by a substandard selection and vetting process of police officer candidates.

We won’t be sure of what factors led to the incident until a full investigation is undertaken. However, one thing we do know is that being a police officer is a difficult and often dangerous job. It requires a mastery of the many skills necessary to do that job, along with the development of skills in interpersonal relations.

The police are often convenient “goats” for many of societies ills simply because when things go bad or get out of hand, they usually happen to be there just doing their job protecting society. Sure, there are “bad apples” in all walks of life and professions but the majority of our fellow citizens who are policeman are dedicated professionals who are worthy of our trust, respect and support.

A disturbing reaction to the Floyd killing is a call by progressive politicians and organizations to “defund” police departments and rebuild from the ground up. What might that rebuild result in? Who would respond if you called 911 to report a crime? Some “social action team” who would explain that crimes happen in an “unfair and unjust society” and that we just have to accept them? Sounds crazy but it could be the future.

In regard to the protests themselves, engaging in peaceful protests as a reaction to the wrongful death of George Floyd or even protesting restrictions stemming from the Corona pandemic are one of our birthrights as Americans. However, when protests turn violent resulting in death, injury, destruction and looting they cross the line into lawlessness and cannot be tolerated by a civilized society.

Evidence is beginning to accumulate that It is likely that much of the violence was incited, by organization like Antifa that protest fascism and other right-wing ideologies even though they remind many of the Nazi SA “brownshirts” who roamed the streets of Germany beating anyone who crossed them in the 1920s and ’30s.

Past experience with protests that take a violent turn should have reminded city leaders that force must be met with force or violence will escalate. It’s like raising young children where a simple but forceful “NO” will put the child on notice to stop what they are doing. A major reason for the violence was poor leadership by city mayors like Bill DeBlasio of New York. Like a parent who fears speaking harshly to a young child DeBlasio told the NYPD to use a soft touch on the protestors allowing those intent on violence to stream into Manhattan resulting in unprecedented looting and violence on June 2.

Turning to the pandemic and its aftermath, I had my first haircut in over two months a few days ago that was a signal that common sense was returning to New York or anyway what passes for common sense instate government. However, Gov. Andrew Cuomo continues to rule under a “State of Emergency” declared several months ago and his Democratic lackies in the Assembly and Senate appear happy to let him continue doing so. Isn’t one party government wonderful?

Thankfully “His Honor” is now allowing religious gatherings of up to 25% of capacity although how that will be figured is anyone’s guess. While I’m not encouraging lawlessness, I suggest going to a church service if you want to while holding a sign stating “I believe what the First Amendment says about the “free exercise” of religion.” Call me crazy but is Andrew trying to kill religion?”

One of the tragedies of the pandemic was Cuomo’s decision to send nursing home residents who tested positive for the virus back to their facilities so that they could infect other at-risk residents. All of this was in the name of saving hospital beds but resulted in the deaths of more than 5,000 older patients. Not crazy, just sad.

I learned a few lessons during the pandemic and lockdown. First believe what doctors and scientists say about diseases but not what they say about the economy and believe what economists and moneymen say about the economy but not about disease. Next, take all “models” with a large grain of salt. Finally, don’t believe politicians of any stripe when they say the other side is “ignoring the science” because its my view that few politicians of either party understand anything but the “science of reelection.”

Now if Major League Baseball and the Player Association could get their act together, like the NBA, NFL, NHL, and NASCAR have, and play a little ball I would be really happy. But the 2020 MLB season could just be an empty space in the record book.

Thomas Kirkpatrick Sr. is a Silver Creek resident. Send comments to editorial@observertoday.com

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