Let’s make something eminently clear: There were two kinds of protest taking place in Baltimore as a result of the tragic death of Freddie Gray in police custody. The first was from those who sincerely wanted justice and an explanation for the catastrophic and sudden end of Freddie’s life. The second was from those whose motivation was solely to cause mayhem, destruction, disorder, looting and a host of criminal activities that would be broadcast all across the country.
Yet again, another American city is engulfed in racial acrimony, antagonism and anger, and the thugs who have destroyed businesses and people’s lives have disappeared with no twinge of conscience. Officers’ lives have been endangered, people’s lives upturned, and for another extended period of time, people will remember Baltimore as yet another dysfunctional American city still mired in racial hatred and disharmony.
But it doesn’t stop there. People have attempted to give excuses, as if there could be any for this level of criminality. And the word that has been repeated again and again is “frustration.”
But we are all frustrated with life in America — Latinos, Muslims, middle-class whites. The list is long. And if we all were to vent our frustrations, as we saw in Baltimore, on other American cities, the fabric of this country would unwind, and we would no longer be justified in using the word “United” in our country’s name.
We adhere to America’s values because we believe in them, notwithstanding the injustices that continue all around us.
Overall, the black community deserves our praise for its response and the manner in which it has worked ceaselessly to limit further damage to this city. But what the black community needs to remember is that it cannot continue labeling itself as victims and allowing that to justify the economic malaise that afflicts its people.
The largest crime propagated in America is murder by blacks against blacks. If you wish to denounce police brutality against the black community, don’t live the life of a hypocrite and conveniently forget the slaughter being perpetrated against blacks by blacks all over this country. Drugs have destroyed black communities everywhere, and with that comes the necessary corollary of crime and self-inflicted murder.
So let’s mourn for Freddie Gray and work toward the necessary and difficult opportunities that allow members of the black community a chance for hope. But let us also remember that at the rate other ethnic groups are multiplying and taking over senior political leadership roles, the behavior of the black community in the future may not fall on the same politically correct ears that it does now. And unless there are major changes within the next 20 to 30 years, there will be such a political disconnect as to completely overwhelm the very community that has complained the most against everyone … but never against itself.
Rabbi Chaim Landau is president of the Baltimore Board of Rabbis.