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Elusive equality

Loving our neighbors comes after we deal with justice and unfairness

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One thing is certain, Al Fonzi's "After the anger" (June 18) isn't the last of the anger.

About 60 lines down from his 150-line commentary, he was making quite a bit of sense. The last line before changing course, "These incidents are national tragedies," left room for some continued reasonable analysis. But I was disappointed that he neglected to reference two other very recent and viable examples of police brutality resulting in black deaths, such as the female EMT whose apartment was shot up by marauding officers, and the black student in Colorado who was minding his own business walking home one evening when officers chose to harass him.

I will say, however, that within those first 60 lines it was clear that Fonzi didn't have much sympathy for Rayshard Brooks, who could have, rather than been arrested for sleeping drunk, been escorted home to his family with a warning. There were four black deaths in a very short period of time at the hands of officers, and most besides Floyd didn't even elicit the initial reactions nationwide—suggesting they could even have been buried in the news media (but ultimately weren't).

There is no question in my or most people's minds that black Americans are at a great disadvantage in our society compared to whites—and I include all others of fair skin color, such as Asians and maybe even Hispanics. I grew up with blacks and Hispanics in my integrated high school, and while I didn't experience much overt racism, I understood something of African Americans' intrinsic challenges in life.Their only hope in many instances is to get a good education, particularly in college, and even then there is discrimination against them, particularly in the military and corporate life. The stories about that are numerous, and many are being related now that there is openness to hearing them.

So Fonzi, who is a retired military officer, must know about all this. He seems not to have any understanding of why it has been necessary to protest in the streets over racism and black murders at the hands of police officers. Especially since so few officers are ever charged or fired—and often bounce right back into their or other departments after a short "furlough." And his suggestion that courts should be the place to challenge unfair rulings denies the reality that it is expensive to conduct any kind of lawsuit, and ultimately the results are often moot.

His comment that "as a society we've failed our young people, raising them to believe they are victims and that racism can be blamed for all our social ills. And we've failed to teach them to respect authority." Is he referring to black young people? Or all young people? The statement is preposterous whether the reference is to blacks or whites.

Most recognize that authority figures must prove to be worthy of the description, and few young people overall are likely to take up arms in rebellion against American society, which offers many opportunities for advancement simply because we live in a democratic republic. The radicals like "antifa" are destined to remain an unwelcome, while noisy and destructive, aberration.

Fonzi ends with the hope that everyone should just learn to "love thy neighbor." First, however, intrinsic racism, distrust, envy, and all the other negative human emotions must be dealt with and punishments meted out to those who step over the line, whether in authority or not. Justice and fairness are the desired outcomes, even if elusive at times. Δ

William Seavey writes from Cambria. Respond with a letter to the editor sent to letters@newtimesslo.com.

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