By Joe Rector

I thought that if we ever got past the coronavirus pandemic that the world would settle down. How wrong did that assumption turn out? I’ll ask you straight: Is this country strong enough to survive the constant problems that arise almost daily?

States have opened slowly, even though health officials warn us that returning to life as we knew it will lead to a second wave of the illness that will again bring on millions of cases of infection and thousands of deaths. Few people are content to sit at home every day without contact with friends and work associates. However, going to the gym, eating in a restaurant, or bowling are activities that might well lead to another long, grueling quarantine.

I don’t understand people rushing to beaches where they lie or sit next to strangers. The scene at the pool party in Ozark was disgusting, virus or no virus. Flocks of people are running around without masks for protection, and they harass people who make the decisions to wear protective coverings. Yes, we all need interactions, but they should be started out slowly until we can be sure that such contact won’t kill us or make us deathly ill.

If that weren’t enough, racism reared its ugly head again. Oh, it’s been here all along, but its presence was accentuated with the death of George Floyd. I don’t pretend to know all the facts of his arrests and possible crimes. What is plain to see, however, is a police officer’s knee crunching Floyd’s neck as to two other officers applied weight and force to the rest of his body. I’m pretty sure Floyd was handcuffed by then, so what possibly could have been the motive for such brutal tactics other than to slowly kill the man? If a person commits a crime, he should be held accountable. He does not need to be murdered in the street.

Demonstrations have arisen across the country, as well as across the world. The line from the Chicago song still applies: “The whole world is watching.” Peaceful demonstrations have been a part of our country’s history. They have many times served to change injustices that took place. They are once again having those results. It is time for the change once and for all. Committing a crime should lead to arrest; the unequal treatment of an individual based on the color of his skin no longer can be condoned.

I believe that those who loot and destroy should be severely punished. They are taking advantage of the death of George Floyd to enrich themselves. At the same time, they are destroying their own community’s business base, the same one that serves them on daily a basis. Such disregard for others and selfishness cannot be ignored.

With that said, we must realize that those who commit the crimes are not the ones who are pleading for change. The majority of demonstrators are peaceful and also abhor the looting and burning. They don’t need to be attacked by police or National Guard units, or unidentified men in military gear. How dare anyone attack a peaceful demonstration and run people from a public park so that a government official can have his picture taken in front of a church with a bible held up for all to see. It was a circus. The call for military units to put down protests in cities is unconstitutional as well.

Our country is reeling at this time. A vacuum exists where leadership should be. In fact, the continued fencing of blocks around the White House seems to be a way to keep the residents and workers there even more removed from what is going on in this country. We need to take a step back and see what is going on. Then we can answer the question that I have:

Is this America?