The"Blue Lives Matter" legislation introduced last week by Sen. Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg) in Springfield was proposed with the best of intentions, although perhaps not the best name.
If approved, Senate Bill 1380 would add peace officers, correctional institution employees, probation and parole officers, firefighters and emergency medical services personnel to the listing of protected classes under the Illinois Hate Crimes statutes.
At present, the Illinois Hate Crimes statutes protect only the disabled, racial, religious, national origin and sexual orientation populations.
Adding our protectors to that list sounds good. What right-thinking American wouldn't be in favor of that?
Fowler said he made a "pledge" to local law enforcement officials, firefighters, correctional officers and EMS personnel on the campaign trail to initiate the legislation. Now, he is simply following through with his promise.
"All lives matter, but in today's dangerous world, our public safety professionals have been placed in a more extreme environment, where they themselves have been made the targets of senseless aggression," Fowler said in support of his bill.
The senator went on to point out recent shooting incidents in Louisiana and Texas that claimed the lives of police officers.
While I fully support Fowler's legislation, I do wish he had changed the name of the bill from "Blue Lives Matter" to "Back the Blue," for example.
To coin the phrase, "Blue Lives Matter," is racially insensitive if not outright inflammatory to African-Americans because it is a direct shot at the "Black Lives Matter" movement whether intended so or not.
The senator says "all lives matter," but that's a given. Of course, all lives matter. What Fowler may not see is that those words, along with "Blue Lives Matter" are not the best choice of words as they play off the "Black Lives Matter" rallying cry.
The problem with the "All Lives Matter" sentiment is "that there is demonstrable evidence that black lives matter less than white lives to the criminal justice system" as indicated in an article by Jesse Damiani of the Huffington Post.
Statistics would seem to bear that out. Another well known publication, The USA Today, reported in 2014 that at least 70 police departments between Connecticut and California arrested blacks at a rate of 10 times higher than people who are not black.
Moreover, the FBI released statistics from 2011-12 that show blacks accounted for up to 44 percent of arrests in towns where the black population was less than 15 percent of total residents.
So, what's my point?
My point is why inflame?
I believe we are at a crossroads in America when it comes to race relations. Are we going to take the high road and work hand-in-hand to build a better tomorrow for us all?
Or do we take the low road, pointing fingers at one another, blaming the other for all that goes wrong in this country?
I urge all of us, including Sen. Dale Fowler, to take the high road.
Like Mr. Fowler, I respect the hard work done by our protectors. Their jobs are incredibly trying and even life-threatening at times.
And as I stated previously, I fully support any legislation that will benefit them, including the bill proposed by Mr. Fowler.
I just wish our freshman senator would have received better advice in the phraseology of that bill. Words are important. They carry meaning. I am not trying to be politically correct here. I want to be morally correct. And I want leaders like our own Sen. Dale Fowler, who I believe to be a good man, to recognize the difference.