An angry nation fueled by hate

Too much anger, fueled by hate, has consumed America.

An argument at a gas station ended with a man dead after another pulled a gun. The death became the latest in what has turned into a bloody, violent summer in too many places in this year of the pandemic.

Reports The New York Times:

It started with an afternoon stop at a gas station. Two customers began exchanging angry stares near the pumps outside — and no one can explain exactly why.

That led to an argument, and it escalated quickly as one of them pulled a gun, and they struggled over it, according to the police.

“There’s too many shootings. Please don’t do this,” the wife of one of the men pleaded, stepping between them.

But by the time the fight was over at the station on Kansas City’s East Side late last month, the all-too-familiar crackle of gunfire pierced the humid air, leaving another person dead in what has been an exceedingly bloody summer.

Violent crime is up 37 percent this summer in major cities of the United States, says University of Missouri-St. Louis professor Richard Rosenfeld. That’s six times higher than the rise of such crimes just a year ago.

“We’re surrounded by murder, and it’s almost like your number is up,” said Erica Mosby, whose niece, Diamon Eichelburger, 20, was a pregnant shooting victim pushing the stroller in Kansas City. “It’s terrible,” she told The Times.

It’s not just the cities. How many arguments do we see on social media and on the street in these partisan times? I watched a man who appeared to be in the 20s, stomp out of Food Lion last week in a loud argument with his wife. He raised his fist to her before a bystander talked him down.

On Facebook last week, a Floyd County resident said “Democrats murder unborn children” because they support right-to-life. He “unfriended” me after I argued that abortion is legal in America while another poster said anyone who follows that law will “burn in hell.”

Floyd County now has a wannabe “citizens militia” who wants official recognition by the Board of Supervisors, so they can be called up to quell “civil disturbances” they promise “are coming.” The county’s Commonwealth’s Attorney says no county in Virginia can call up any militia. That power rests with Gov. Ralph Northam.

In a peaceful rally on “Black Lives Matter” in front of our county courthouse a few weeks ago, a man carrying a confederate flag, took off his t-shirt, shouted racial epithets, and challenged others to fight.

Roger Andrew Altizer Jr. is an out-of-county resident who faces court in Floyd in September on charges of assault & battery and disorderly conduct from that incident and also faces a trial in November on felony charges of shooting a firearm from vehicles in his home county of Hanover as well as another hearing in October on charges of pointing and brandishing a firearm.

One of the hearings that I will cover Tuesday in Floyd County Circuit Court is one of a Christiansburg man charged with having a firearm while possessing and distributing methamphetamine.

Assault & battery cases have become more routine in Floyd County courts. So has domestic violence.

The American Psychological Association says people should not “physically lash out at every person or object that irritates or annoys us. Social norms, and common sense, place limits on how far our anger can take us.”

That becomes more difficult when we have elected “leaders” who govern through anger, ego and impulse.

America has become an angry nation. We must work to bring that anger under control and use emotions for positive, constructive actions before hate consumes us.

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