Times Are Changing

In the last few months, several major events have taken place in the United States. Some of these events were noticed by all, some events by some and some of the events were noticed by just a very few. The most recent event was the police killings of two black men and the Dallas sniper attack, which followed, where a black man killed five police officers and wounded several more. All of these shootings, caught on cell phone video, were horribly shocking and received a great deal of play in the major media sources.

The investigations into the police shootings of the black men by cops are ongoing and will be performed or overseen by the Justice Department; and the attack on the police officers in Dallas will be the subject of analysis and evaluation for quite some time.

There is no excuse, as far as I can tell, for excessive force unless a life is threatened. Well-trained cops know how and when to use force. The pattern of excessive force against black men has created an environment in the US that has fed the growth of a community organization known as black lives matter. The necessity for Black Lives Matter is hard to dispute in a climate where young black men are detained and targeted by police many times more than young white men. On the other hand, conservative groups respond to this movement by suggesting that “all lives matter”. It is true that all lives matter but to make that argument at this point is to profoundly negate the issues of bias and prejudice that does exist.

However, that is not my focus. My concern is much more specific even egocentric.

Whenever movements arise that seek to correct an injustice using agitation and misinterpreting the goals of “speaking truth to power”, inevitably, others are caught in the crossfire. That is what I see happening here, particularly as it relates to the Jewish people. Not too many newspapers noticed a specific concern that appears somewhat significant, albeit tangentially, as it relates to the shootings in Dallas. But, the New York Times correctly noted that the Dallas shooter viewed himself as a member of the new Black Panther Party, a group that advocates violence against whites, and Jews in particular. While there has been a great outcry against violence since the shootings, I suspect that somewhere there are those who are toasting the Dallas sniper Micah Johnson as a hero of the New Black Panther Party, supporting their perfidious goals.

Research tells us that copycat shooters are likely. Protecting white and black people, police officers as well, and Jews, should be a major concern for all of us especially for the near future.

This concern of mine, to protect us all from violence, is significantly more troubling when viewed from a broader political context. The Democratic National Committee met to iron out its platform for the upcoming election. The committee members appointed by Bernie Sanders, and his supporters, were highly upset because the committee did not adopt their stringent view of isolating Israel and not similarly castigating the Palestinians. Supporters of the Sanders position left the meetings agitated, vowing for a floor fight at the Democratic Convention. Democratic Party regulars indicate that this form of agitation will be unproductive and will not enhance the political reality in the Middle East. Nevertheless, this contentiousness is highly indicative of a ground shift in the political landscape that may have an extreme impact on future political realities.

Media sources gave this focal issue very limited attention. But, this is another concern that will not simply disappear: if Israel is isolated politically by the US so too will the Jewish people both in Israel and in the US.

And if all that is insufficient to cause concern, just look at what transpired at NYU where the Students for Justice in Palestine NYU Chapter posted on their Facebook page – that the shooting of the black men by police officers was a result of the fact that American cops train with the IDF. SJP said, “The IDF is committing genocide against Palestinians the same way American police forces are systematically killing off black Americans”. Clearly, this is untrue though truth and reality are not part of their equation for justice.

I am not a profit of doom, nor am I generally the pessimist. However, it is quite clear that the tide is shifting and if we are to survive, we have to take a different stand. What exactly that approach must be is not yet clear but it must be significantly more assertive and self-protective. We cannot dismiss any incidents as random events with no bearing or, the ravings of mad men, though there may be truth in that. Propagandists and extremists will take advantage of these events to create more chaos, build a larger following, and spread their poisonous misinformation. If we are not vigilant and quick to react we may be giving extremists license to proceed with their hate.

About the Author
Dr Michael Salamon, is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and a 2018 APA Presidential Citation Awardee. He is the founder and director of ADC Psychological Services in New York and the author of numerous articles, several psychological tests and books including "The Shidduch Crisis: Causes and Cures" (Urim Publications) and "Every Pot Has a Cover" (University Press of America). His newest book is called "Abuse in the Jewish Community: Religious and Communal Factors that Undermine the Apprehension of Offenders and the Treatment of Victims."
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