On the strange “either/or”-ism in the wake of George Floyd’s murder
It’s been over a week since George Floyd was senselessly killed by (now former) Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Despite the lockdown and social distancing measures invariably enforced around the globe, protests sprang up in Floyd’s community and in over 100 cities worldwide. Riots, looting, and vandalism also bubbled up, leading to the damage or destruction of over 250 businesses in the Twin Cities area alone. Peaceful protests and destructive confrontations played out in Chicago, Atlanta, Sacramento, Boston, Birmingham, Sioux Falls, Seattle, D.C., and a bevy of other places.
We have seen all this before.
What we’ve also seen before is the grievous display of extremism from professional pundits, politicians, and social media warriors. Again and again we are told:
- If you are sincerely outraged at the death of yet another unarmed black man, you can’t possibly condemn riots and looting.
- If you genuinely believe that “black lives matter,” you can’t possibly say that “all lives matter.”
- Either the police are wholly the enemy or they’re the good guys, there is no in-between.
Our national social discussion lacks nuance. We seem stuck in an “either/or” hell.
The problem with that, of course, is that the complexity of our reality demands a “both-and” perspective; that’s the mindset called for when there are several things true at once.
The following truths are not listed in any particular order, because no single truth is greater than any other.