Do you remember the last time NYC was this polarized? How about America? How do we reverse this? Here’s a crazy idea: Stop politicizing everything.
Respecting the police isn’t a conservative idea, and respecting the right to protest isn’t a liberal one. Bulletin: Most police officers, and most protesters over the Eric Garner case, have their hearts in the right place. If that statement angers you, sorry, but that means you’re part of the problem.
Bad apples in every group? You bet. But let’s not smear all because of the actions of a few. To my disgust, I have heard bigots call minorities “animals.” Calling cops “pigs” and worse is no different. Labeling any group as less than human is the first step in physically harming them, whether that be in Nazi Germany or on the streets of NYC.
Stop politicizing everything! Among the offenders are biased media of all stripes that draw viewers, readership or clicks by demonizing those who don’t follow their belief system.
But the worst are some of today’s politicians, answering the late Mario Cuomo’s question — “Do you want to help people, or do you want to be powerful?” — the wrong way. When millions of Americans can’t afford to feed their children or take them to a doctor, what is called for is empathy, not derision. When Republicans bash the Affordable Care Act without offering any realistic alternatives, they are playing politics with people’s lives.
But it’s not just the GOP. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) recently said Democrats should have ignored the health care crisis in this nation because those most in need of help rarely vote. He didn’t pretend that there wasn’t a crisis — just that “it makes no political sense.”
So my belated New Year’s resolution is to refuse to see issues as political but instead in more human terms. Perhaps Commissioner Bill Bratton, eulogizing slain Det. Rafael Ramos, put it best.
“We don’t see each other,” said Bratton. “If we can learn to see . . . that our cops are people like Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, to see that our communities are filled with people just like them too . . . then maybe when we see each other, we’ll heal.”
Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.net.