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Summer’s start has strange feel across the country

After a summer of total isolation in 2020 and extreme caution in 2021, you would think the relative freedom of summer 2022 would have folk kicking their heels together and running up and down the streets with outstretched arms shouting, “Hallelujah!”

Now, in fact, there is every reason for those bringing in the new season to feel celebratory. The pandemic has waned but people are still getting sick, though if they took the COVID-19 vaccine and booster shots they seldom suffer severe symptoms, and survive it.

But there are so many strange things going on around the country, it’s hard to get a beat on the mood of the nation, especially for Black Americans. We just finished celebrating Juneteenth that was an enlightening concept. But 26 states didn’t comply with the federal law, so more than half of America ignored it.

That probably wasn’t all bad since most had little or no sincerity in addressing the roots of the observation, its history, significance or implications. I can’t get over the fact that 99 U.S. Senators voted for the Juneteenth holiday. That had to include such hateful folk as Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham. Nothing can convince me that they meant well.

Neither did the other 50 Republicans convince me, whose unyielding partisanship thwarts every piece of sensible social legislation that might even remotely benefit Black citizens, such as social justice, joblessness, hunger, infrastructure, education, voting rights, police reform, gun control, health insurance, homelessness and the list goes on. These are political foes, not friends, so their sanction of the holiday is suspect.

But it was done in the heat of the George Floyd murder aftermath so it didn’t come as a surprise. They would have done almost anything short of granting reparations to change the subject and create the illusion of our living in a nation where systemic racism doesn’t run rampant. Serious attention to the deprivation of Voting Rights would have been convincing.

Then there are these hearings on the January 6 insurrection in the House of Representatives. The twice-impeached, one-term predecessor to Joe Biden is center stage even in his absence.

Everyone testifying, including his daughter and ardent supporters during the last election, has declared under oath that what he tried to do was illegal, that he instigated the attempted coup ahead of time and ignored the assault on the capitol in real time, and that he tried to change the election outcome in at least two states, Arizona and Georgia. These are more than light misdemeanors. These are serious federal offenses. People are going to jail.

But not the ringleader. He is ridiculing the proceedings before sizable gatherings of sycophants who wait with baited breath for his return to the political arena first hand. With his track record and the outcome of this hearing, that should not even be a conversation. This man should never hold public office again and should be prosecuted, like normal citizens.

But lawyers on both sides of the aisle are voicing skepticism about the effect on the country if the GOP standard bearer is brought to justice. One legal expert feared that it might result in widespread unrests and violent protests at best, to “civil war.” The chairman of the Congressional investigating committee has already told reporters that there is no plan to send the outcome to the Department of Justice for prosecution.

To be fair, the Attorney General doesn’t need permission to assemble a Grand Jury to look into allegations against Agent Orange. But he won’t. We actually knew the truth all along, but with this blatant gift of unprecedented privilege to this arrogant private citizen who attempted to erode the foundation of democracy and peaceful transfer of power, it’s out there for all to see. We are not a nation of laws. And the expression “no man is above the law” is a lie.

Add to the eerie feel of these strange times in which we live, rising interest rates, the stock market plummeting and spiraling costs for everything from groceries, to gas, to houses and apartments, to prescription medicine, to clothing, and to every form of transportation. And before nine victims in Buffalo could be buried, 21 were slain at an elementary school while cops hovered outside the classroom for an hour and mass shootings have occurred in this country almost every day over the past two months. Strange times.

There were shootings, some fatal, at graduations in cities across the country. People don’t feel safe at the grocery store, pumping gas, going to school, driving next to an angry motorist, riding public transportation, standing in a crowd at an event or even in the house of worship. We could go on, but you get the picture.

Biden is rated lower in the polls than “45” was at any time during his presidency. Along with the economy, the incumbent is blamed for everything from the baby formula shortage to the nation running low on its stock tampons. With all of this, our country continues to send tens of billions of dollars to Ukraine for a war it appears they can’t win.

So when people look a little perplexed these days, they have a right. We just have to keep it together and not lose our faith. Now I think I understand what the old folks meant when they said all that we really have at our disposal is a ‘wing and a prayer.’ I need help to better understanding the “wing” part. But there is no doubt that this nation is in more need of prayer than it has been for a hundred years.

 

Vernon A. Williams Juneteenth
Vernon A. Williams

CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference-makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: [email protected]

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