In the 1988 spoof movie “The Naked Gun,” detective Frank Drebin expresses his love to Jane in an emotional plea broadcast on the big screen at a baseball stadium. It’s so touching that brawling baseball players stop fighting, an Arab and an Israeli hug and a dog licks a mailman.
It’s funny because everyone knows Arabs and Jews can’t get along. Dogs will forever be at mailmen’s throats. That’s just the way it is, right?
It’s hard to accept people who are different from us. Division is natural. It’s challenging to understand and accept those who come from such a wildly opposite place. That’s been one of the main themes of mankind for millennia.
Now we’re confronted with this incessantly. America is shaking as longstanding fault lines clash. We see it in Charlotte and across North Carolina. So many types of people live here now, from so many backgrounds, all expecting to be treated with respect. This is not your father’s Charlotte.
It’s understandable that people struggle to embrace such change. We all have our beliefs and values, and we don’t have to agree on things like how active government should be in solving society’s problems.
We do have to accept, though, that Charlotte, North Carolina and America are changing, and that won’t stop. And we have to strive to build a society where everyone is afforded equality of opportunity and individuals are not discriminated against because of their faith or background or who they are.
Progress toward this ideal comes haltingly. Two steps forward, one step back. Just take last week.
The Boy Scouts of America announced Monday that it would begin accepting transgender boys as scouts. “Communities and state laws are now interpreting gender identity differently than society did in the past,” Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh said.
The announcement follows the Scouts’ decision in 2013 to allow gay scouts and its 2015 move to accept gay scout leaders.
Also in the news: In Charlotte on Wednesday, Rabbi Judy Schindler joined scores of women at Romare Bearden Park wearing a hijab for World Hijab Day. The dissonance of a prominent Jewish leader showing solidarity with Muslim women was jarring for some. As Schindler writes here, she faced a lot of pushback. But, she says, she could not be silent in the face of religious-based violence. So she reached across a divide thousands of years in the making to help defend religious freedom.
These examples of progress were offset by news that the KKK was recruiting in Gaston County last week. Fliers from the white supremacist group were delivered to driveways in Cherryville and Dallas, the Shelby Star reported. “The KKK wants you,” the fliers said.
Two steps forward, one step back. That is how the arc of history has unfolded: slow but inexorable progress toward valuing the humanity of every individual.
The question now is whether Donald Trump’s presidency will reverse that march. There’s every reason to worry that it could, with the backing of the millions who fight our nation’s increasing diversity.
The Westminster Kennel Club announced last week that cats will make an appearance at its Dog Show this month, breaking with 141 years of tradition. That’s just crazy. But the rest of us should strive to get along.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter: @tbatten1.