It doesn’t matter what the crisis is. Be it a cop shooting yet another unarmed black guy, the latest case of sexual harassment on Fox, or gender wars about bathroom usage in the Carolinas, the response is always the same.
The talking heads pontificate, and right before they break for commercial, everyone concludes that “America really needs to have a conversation.”
But with two hundred channels, half a billion Tweets and countless Facebook posts constantly yammering on those subjects, you’d be forgiven for thinking we’re having that conversation already.
I don’t think we face a conversation deficit. I don’t even think we disagree with the conclusions reached by most people in those conversations about touchy subjects like race and cops, women and respect, gender and choice.
These conversations don’t have two, roughly equal, sides. They’re not about differing points of view; they’re about right and wrong.
I make that extreme statement baldly, with confidence. When it comes to race relations, or fair policing, or women’s equality in the workplace, or the rights of gays and lesbians to live unhampered lives, and justice for all colors, genders and religions, we have reached consensus, there is no other side.
“America needs to have a conversation about race.” Seriously? We haven’t been talking about that for the last 150 years?
That conversation is settled. The races should be equal in America. There should be no penalty for being black at a traffic stop, or trying to book a night at Airbnb, or trying to catch a cab, if there are still cabs in your part of America.
I mean, if we need to have that conversation, where are we going to find someone to take the side of hatred and racism?
I’m not saying such people don’t exist. But David Duke is only one guy, give a bigot a break.
The major issues are talked out, it’s time to get to work. I think Elvis Presley said it best: “A little less conversation and a little more action.”
Here’s how we end the conversations about gender politics and sexual harassment that have been droning on ever since Eve got the blame for our eviction from the Garden of Eden.
“Men, the women in your office are your equals, they are not prey. They make the same as you for the same job, get to wear whatever they want without hearing about it from you, no wolf whistles allowed. And managers, no, you can’t try to nail that underling by offering favors or punishment. Sorry, end of conversation.”
Same goes for the so-called campus rape culture. I don’t actually think there is a raging epidemic of rape in academia, I think that heinous behavior has been there all along, but that’s no excuse. We must have our conversation.
“College jocks and dudes in general, there is no such thing as rape culture. There is only rape crime. Don’t do it. And judges, if that fella is duly tried and convicted, three months isn’t justice. End of conversation.”
Cops have a tough job. Some of them patrol very violent areas. Places where, even if the police wear “Black Lives Matter” tee shirts, the gangbangers say “Not to Me.” I get it.
But the conversation about unjustified police killings is over. What we need to do is vigorously prosecute each and every unjustified police shooting, jailing the perpetrators and firing any cops who knew about it and tried to shield the killer behind the thin blue line.
This constant call for conversations about already settled issues shows how far we’ve fallen as a democracy. We can’t even imagine government making things right, doing the hard work necessary to heal our society. Instead, we settle for more talk, but talk is cheap.
If you’re looking for the geyser of cynicism that has erupted, drowning our politics in name calling, divisiveness and demagoguery, look no further. When less than one in five citizens believes that the government will do the right thing, most of the time, then it’s safe to assume that government is doing next to nothing, all of the time. Because if it did something then at least half the people would be happy about it.
But nobody is happy now. When government does nothing, what else is left but talk? I suppose we could have a conversation about that, but it would be a short one.
“Hey, government. Shut up and do something. We know what the problems are, fix them. Now.”
End of conversation.