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George Pyle: President would make violence a basic of life

President Donald Trump speaks with business owners Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020, as he tours an area damaged during demonstrations after a police officer shot Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Mine is a generation that has seen many things go from oddities to luxuries to necessities. Sometimes, that’s progress.

But when a crude warlord resides in the highest office in the land, and we find ourselves moving toward a society where the need for personal firearms is more widely felt than ever, we risk the fall of our civilization.

We’ve seen how fast things change. The first person you knew who owned a telephone answering machine was rude, because he was too stuck up to answer his own phone. The last person in your circle to own a telephone answering machine was rude, because she was missing all of your important calls.

Before that, automobiles and airplanes went from toys for wealthy daredevils to necessities of modern life. Since then, smartphones and high-speed internet connections moved rapidly from geek cred to things you must have to communicate with anyone, shop, keep up with the news, manage your money, find work, do your job and, especially in recent months, go to school.

The assumed dependency on car culture matters a lot along the Wasatch Front. Clearly, there are, and will be, so many people in this neck of the woods that we are running out of places to put them. The logical answer is to do what humans have always done, live closer together.

The question is not whether we will do that but whether it will be done poorly or well. Which mostly means how well we avoid crowding our streets and highways with dangerous and polluting cars.

When people oppose the inevitable trend of higher-density housing near their single-family homes, they may stand on a totally unreasonable belief that the open ground down the road was supposed to stay unpopulated forever. Or they may be motivated by the mostly unspoken fear of brown people making up an ever-larger proportion of their neighbors and of their children’s schoolmates.

But the objection carrying the advantage of being socially acceptable is that even the most attractive and well-built high-density project over there means an ever-increasing snarl of cars and trucks in front of my house. It is a view that is based on the idea, taken for granted by those who already live in those houses and drive down those streets, that cars, usually carrying one person each, are not an option but a necessity

Thus the key factor to be measured as we decide whether to approve something as huge as the Olympia Hills project planned for the southwest part of Salt Lake County, or as targeted as the three acres in the Avenues for houses with mother-in-law apartments built in, is traffic flow and how well public transit, as well as walking and biking, is baked in to the plans from the get-go.

Do that well, primarily at the expense of the developer, and such projects should generally be approved. Do it poorly, or not at all, and they should always be denied.

All of which will matter little if the trend on the streets of many of our larger cities, deliberately exacerbated by the president of the United States, continues to drive more and more people to conclude that the only way to be safe in public is to be armed.

Some may agree with the president’s attitude, with the belief that police officers having the unquestioned license to kill Black people, and white people having the constitutional right to carry weapons of war onto the street to “assist” the police, will result in people they don’t like deciding to go away, to fall silent, to stop demanding their rights, to stop being Black.

A much more likely outcome will be that those who now pride themselves on mounting peaceful protests will decide that nonviolence is for chumps and the only hope for progress — for survival — is to match, gun for gun, the armaments of the other side. Until one tin soldier rides away.

This is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, what the president wants, and what all who continue to support this president are working toward. A world where violence is not an oddity, but a necessity.

George Pyle

George Pyle, editorial page editor of The Salt Lake Tribune, wonders when knowledge will be considered a basic necessity of life.

gpyle@sltrib.com

Twitter, @debatestate

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