By Camerin "Camo" Nesbit
Philadelphia police and National Guard take a knee at the suggestion of Philadelphia Police Deputy Commissioner Melvin Singleton, unseen, outside Philadelphia Police headquarters in Philadelphia, Monday, June 1, 2020 during a march calling for justice over the death of George Floyd, Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. Protests have erupted in more than 350 cities across the U.S. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
In the wake of the protests in Minneapolis and other American cities over the death of yet another unarmed black man by the police, I wrote the following in a Facebook post:
“I don’t know what to say anymore.”
That, of course, is a lie.
It’s not often that I want for words. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I was gobsmacked into silence.
The truth is, I knew exactly what I wanted to say. However, as one of the founders of the outlet you’re reading, I hesitated to say what was on my mind for fear of potentially alienating some readers. That was an error in judgment I won’t make again.
So here it goes:
The state of disarray in which America finds itself right now is the worst I’ve seen and experienced in my 45 years. It reminds me of what I witnessed covering countries that crossed from widespread civil unrest to full-scale war.
The United States is at a tipping point from which I fear it may never return to what passed for “normal” just a few months ago.
Not that a few months ago was all that great either. Prior to the arrival of COVID-19 here, the United States, Postindustrial America included, had devolved to a level of partisan wretchedness and hate not seen in these parts since the Civil War.
While some might place the blame solely on the president, who trades in angry, racist rhetoric and pines for the good ole-days when minorities knew their place and remained in the shadows, or better yet, their countries of origin, I don’t.
I blame those who support him. Without their votes, he wouldn’t be in the White House. And that includes a lot of people in Postindustrial America who voted for Trump. Nearly every state in Postindustrial America went for him.
As a son of the region who grew up in Western Pennsylvania, I am ashamed of this statistic and the recent behavior of so many of fellow Postindustrial America inhabitants who are clearly inspired by their fervor for the president to express their hate online and in the streets.
I’m ashamed of the armed protesters converging on the step of the Michigan capitol armed with military-style assault rifles, threatening the lives of lawmakers including the governor.
I’m ashamed of the protester in Kentucky that hung an effigy of that state’s governor outside his home where his small children live.
I’m ashamed that much of the ludacris, partisan divide over the wearing of face masks to curtail the spread of the coronavirus is playing out in stores throughout Postindustrial America.
But for all my shame and disgust with what’s happening these days, I’m not ready to give up.
Just the opposite.
Posindustrial was born out of the 2016 presidential elections in which the partisan hatred stroked by then-candidate Trump capitulated him to a grotesque victory that has debased Postindustrial America, and the rest of the country.
We saw that ignorance and hatred given voice by the new president and realized we wanted to create a counterpoint to the national media narrative that Postindistral America was in lockstep support for the president and his hateful speech.
So that’s what we did. It hasn’t been easy. We’ve stumbled plenty along the way. And the emergence of a deadly global pandemic certainly didn’t help
But we’re still here, more committed than ever to dispel the myths of Postindustrial America being little more than a collection of out-of-work steelworkers and coal miners who latched onto a grotesque, racist, carnival-barker turned world leader.
Postindustrial aims to be the voice for the enlightened in Postindustrial America, the forward-thinking who celebrate clear thought, free from hateful speech. We celebrate our differences and those that make this region unique, whether they be sixth-generation West Virginians, or new arrivals from the Middle East.
We’ve told stories about Kurds living in Nashville, the Bhutanese community in Pittsburgh and a host of other new arrivals that replenish the lifeblood of a region that relies on new arrivals to flourish despite what the anti-immigration president and his followers bellow.
We recognize the importance of a diversity of ideas, not including those that trade in bigotry and fear. They have no place in the pages of Postindustrial.
If you don’t support and share these ideals, if you support and repeat the hatred of the president and his acolytes, then Postindustrial is not for you.
But if you believe in what we stand for, then please continue reading. Come back every day. Send us your suggestions for stories. Tell us when we’ve screwed up. And spread the word among those who share the sentiments I’ve outlined here. We know you’re out there and want to hear from you.
We are in this together. And only together can we keep the flame of enlightenment and tolerance burning during these dark times.
Carmen Gentile is founder and editor-at-large of Postindustrial. He has worked for The New York Times and CBS News, among others. His book, “Blindsided by the Taliban,” documents his life as a war reporter and the aftermath of his brush with death after being shot with a rocket-propelled grenade while embedded with U.S. Army forces in Afghanistan. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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