To the Editor:

America, and American exceptionalism, seem to be AWOL right now.

Since there is no way I can be confused with a millennial, or a Generation Xer, I can authentically say that I have seen America in good times and bad, and the America I remember was never afraid of a fight or a challenge. If you told us “you can’t do that. It’s too hard”, that’s when we would rise to the challenge, just to prove the naysayers wrong as a matter of principle.

Additionally, Americans traditionally loved to support and help the underdog, the downtrodden, and tried to intervene on their behalf, again, just as a matter of principle and pride with no incentive other than it’s the right thing to do.

Now here we are, faced with the challenge of the century, and we can’t even muster up enough courage to do a few things to get this virus under control so we can move on with our lives. We ask people to wear a mask, and don’t gather in large crowds, and you would think folks were asked to give up their first born. I’ve heard “I look ridiculous in a mask,” or “I just have to get a haircut, or go to a restaurant, or a party.” “It’s too hard. I just can’t do it any longer.” “I’m so deprived”. Whine, whine, whine. Give me a break! What a bunch of wimps.

Also, we finally get to a point where it looks like a lot of Americans are ready to stand up for black people that have been oppressed for hundreds of years. For the umpteenth time, the usual pattern of black men being killed in police custody for no reason is finally getting the attention and support deserved. Instead of rising to the occasion, our little feelings get hurt. I hear, even from my own relative, “Sure, it’s a terrible thing that another black man was murdered, but why are the protesters so angry? Why do they have to be so disruptive?”

In essence, saying these protests are not convenient for me, why can’t they do it at another time and place? Seriously? This country was built upon protests for the downtrodden and abused (Boston Tea Party for one). Sure wasn’t convenient for the British. Hello, that’s the whole purpose of a protest.

Continuing that same subject, politely pointing out that comments like these appear to be rude or insensitive at best, and possibly a little racist to black folks, usually gets the response “I’m not racist! Why are you calling me a racist? I don’t want to talk about it anymore.” Really? We (white folks) are not the victims! We should be embracing this challenge to the oppressed. We should be their champions.

I sure hope America can get a spine to do what’s right, here in the twilight of my life. I’m not too old to do my part. Bring it on. Who’s with me?

Mark Ballinger,