Politics at family gatherings unavoidable

Royal Purple Staff Opinion

Dec. 8, 2015

The holidays are fast approaching, but that doesn’t mean there’s a shortage of political and social issues to gripe about.

Recent events are causing a time of year that should be defined by holiday spirits and goodwill to instead be drowned by divisiveness and mass paranoia.

It’s safe to assume that some of those sentiments are going to be expressed at your family’s Christmas gathering after everyone has had a few glasses of wine, so we at the Royal Purple encourage you to familiarize yourself with the country’s troubling events of late. This should minimize political rifts and prevent the knee-jerk reactions to opposing viewpoints that often plague extended families during the holidays.    

To start, protests took place in Chicago last month in response to the release of a dashboard camera video that showed 17-year-old Laquan McDonald being shot 16 times while walking away from police officers, most shots hitting him while he was on the ground. The officer responsible for McDonald’s death, Jason Van Dyke, is being charged with first-degree murder.

Because police reports contradicted the content of the video, a $5 million settlement was paid to McDonald’s family and the release of the video was delayed 13 months after the shooting, allegations of an attempted cover up have arose, prompting the U.S. Justice Department to open an investigation of Chicago Police.

Your Uncle Jim is free to believe what he wants about police brutality and race relations in our country as he lectures that “All Lives Matter” while toting a Coors Light at the dinner table, but there’s no denying that what happened to McDonald was excessive use of force, and the citizens of Chicago deserve answers.

After all, why was the release of the video delayed? How many people saw it and said nothing? Why the $5 million settlement? And why the contradicting police reports? These are questions that must be answered if faith in our police force is ever to be restored. 

If that’s not enough to kill the holiday vibes, the country was rocked last week by an act of terrorism that left 14 people dead in a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California. The shooters, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, were sympathetic to ISIS ideology, and the terrorist organization has claimed them as supporters.

Barack Obama and the FBI are treating the shooting as an act of terrorism. The gravity of the shooting was exemplified by Obama’s addressing of the nation from the Oval Office – he’s only done this two other times in his presidency.

While the threat of terrorism is real, the threat of mass paranoia is even more prevalent. Although the shooters were radicalized Islamic extremists, there is no evidence that they were working with any terrorist organizations, domestic or foreign.

As you already know, the only thing that scares Aunt Kathy more than a drink on the mahogany end table with no coaster, is Islamic terrorists. She’ll let you know that behind every Syrian refugee let into our country is an armed jihadist waiting to attack, and the San Bernardino shooting isn’t going to help her misplaced anxiety.

But you’ll know better. You can tell Aunt Kathy that the terrorists are playing off of fear, and if she’s willing to deny refugees their humanity because of ISIS’s claim that the shooters supported them, then they’ve already won.

The holidays are a tough time for families. When you have that many people in a small space, there’s bound to be some heated discussions about current events. We understand that at the Royal Purple and encourage you to stay informed over the holidays.

From all of us at the Royal Purple, have a safe and wonderful holiday season. We look forward to seeing you all return to UW-W next semester.

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