Responses to Dallas Massacre indicate bleak outlook for change

G. Elliott Morris

Now that it’s been nearly a week since the media-dubbed “Dallas Police Ambush” occurred, it’s time to put reactionary speeches aside and look at the big picture moving forward. Touching on this at a memorial service for the five fallen officers, President Obama said on Tuesday that we “must embark on the hard, but necessary work of negotiation, the pursuit of reconciliation.” Although it seems like a message of unity has risen from the ashes of downtown Dallas, one great speech cannot drown out the quibbles of many. In the wake of the massacre in Dallas, political and policy change looks just as bleak as it did last month.

Speaking from the opposite point of view of the President last Friday, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick called the Dallas protesters hypocrites. Patrick has long been a supporter of law enforcement and the “all lives matter” movement, so this anti-Black Lives Matter and anti- race reform sentiment comes as no shock to me. What is shocking is how Patrick’s statement came in drastic contrast of the Texas Governor, who called for unity among Texans and support of law enforcement.

Abbott’s cry for peace and solidarity seems insubstantial, however, as he included “every life matters” — the phrase used to counter Black Lives Matter and derail conversations about the movement — in his press release. In addition to its illusory effect, his statement also shows that the highest of Texas elected officials are not united in their cause to quell conversations about violence against black Americans. This raises the question: how can Texans be united if their leaders are not? Indeed, most Texans still appear divided on the solutions to poor race relations and police violence.

Among the Texans divided are advocates of open carry, a right under Texas law. Mark Hughes was practicing that right at the Dallas protest when he was wrongly identified as a suspect in the chaos of the evening. Whether it be from continued undertones of racism from police (the other 20-or-so open carriers did not have their pictures plastered wall to wall in social and TV media) or simple confusion, open carry complicated the initial determination of the suspect.

Dallas gives considerable validity to critics of open carry who largely suggest that visibly bearing assault weapons doesn’t prevent crime and complicate law enforcement efforts. This may be one of the reasons why nearly 75 percent of Texas police chiefs oppose open carry laws.

Apart from the issue of open carry, citizens are also torn when it comes to Black Lives Matter, according to Pew Research Center, just 20 percent of Republicans and 40 percent of white Americans support the movement. If there is anything we’ve learned in the past couple of weeks it’s that Black Lives Matter will continue to fight for racial justice, so this divide isn’t disappearing any time soon.

At the end of the day the status quo has prevailed after Dallas and the shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling last week. It appears that Americans are more divided than ever on the issues most important to us. With divisiveness reeling its ugly head from our leaders (and Presidential candidates), it is going to take more than a fantastic speech by our President to quell the chaos. It’s going to take blood and tears, but most importantly it’s going to take hope— and hope for change.

Morris is a government Junior from Port Aransas. Follow him on Twitter @gelliottmorris.