Monday, May 16th, 2022

Baton Rouge, Louisiana


 Remember the song a few years back? “How low can you go?
Cause I wanna know. How low can you go?”

 Well apparently, as a state and a nation, we still have lower to go. The Wall Street Journal summed it up well this week by saying: “It is becoming difficult to identify any corner of American life that has not become unhinged from what once were considered normal restraints on behavior, personal or political.” And it’s not just the Republicans or just the Democrats. Across the political spectrum, personal attacks, violence, and incendiary rhetoric have become the norm.

The verbal attacks on members of the US Supreme Court have become so toxic that an eight-foot fence now surrounds the court building, and the justices are required to have around the clock protection. The Supreme Court is so dysfunctional they can’t even keep their opinions under wraps until time for release. The apparent abortion decision has caused mobs to protest in the nation’s capital. The US senate majority leader Chuck Schumer marching in front of the Supreme Court and yelling at Republican justices: “You have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price. You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”

 Mindless assaults and shootings have become the norm across the nation. Just a few days ago, 10 people were killed in Buffalo by a deranged domestic terrorist.  Daily murders in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport had become the standard.  Once respected actor Will Smith scrolls up to the stage on national television and punches comedian Chris Rock.  Other comedians like Dave Chappelle are attacked on stage.

The Republicans are no better including our former president. All stood by on January 6 and shrugged their shoulders as there was an assault on the nation’s capital with raging mobs.  Our whole way of life here in America and especially my home state of Louisiana seems to be on the brink of disruption and violence.

In the Bayou State, the legislature is now in session. These lawmakers have overlooked facing an exhaustive number of problems that include ignoring a vast list of health reforms, dealing with the highest insurance rates in the nation, overhauling an outdated tax structure, and failing to put teeth in litter and pollution laws that make Louisiana one of the trashiness states in the nation. The highlight of the legislative session so far in Baton Rouge is to designate an official state butterfly (the Gulf Fritillary).

 What happened to our political leaders that in the past built coalitions and work towards solutions in finding the common good? In short, what happened to our leadership that used to show political valor in wanting to, as Spike Lee says, do the right thing?  Or is real political courage now dead?

Thankfully, there are special people and groups who do show us profiles in courage at the local level. On the home front in Louisiana, mayors and other civic leaders have been fighting an uphill battle for the last several years across South Louisiana to recover from several major hurricanes. More communities are forming neighborhood watch groups that stand up to drug dealers. And we cannot praise enough our nurses and doctors who expose themselves to diseases like Covid-19 in order to care for their patients. What we could use are more politicians who risk losing elections to say and do what they think is right.

Charles Darwin defined our dilemma 150 years ago in his “Decent of Man.”  “There can be no doubt that a tribe including many members who, from possessing in a high degree the spirit of patriotism, fidelity, obedience, courage, and sympathy, were always ready to give aid to each other and to sacrifice themselves for the common good, would be victorious over most other tribes; and this would be natural selection.”

As kids, we all grew up with stories of our heroes. We teach kids about special Americans.  People doing good. Putting others before themselves. In Louisiana, statewide elections are less than a year and a half away.  A time for voters to demand answers from those who want to lead.  The buck stops with us, the voters, to pass judgement on who will offer a vision of what Louisiana could and should be.  And that’s an important burden on all of us.

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com. You can also look over a list of books he has published at www.thelisburnpress.com.











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