As I write this, there is quite a lot we still don't know about what happened in Dallas last night, but plenty that we do know.
We know that the Dallas police were ambushed during a Black Lives Matter protest. We know that five officers were massacred and killed and seven more were wounded. We know that the suspect -- or one of the suspects -- identified as Micah Johnson, seen here flashing the black power symbol, was killed by police after a stand off in a parking garage. We know that a Black Power group has taken credit for the attack. We know that some protesters laughed and jeered at police officers while cops were being executed a few blocks away.
We don't know much about this murderous scumbag, but we know, based on a report from the Dallas police chief, that Johnson spoke openly about his motivations. We know that he said he was angry about the recent police shootings and he wanted to kill white people, especially white police officers. We know that he said he was upset for Black Lives Matter. We know that he was a black radical and a racist.
It all adds up to a tragedy and a travesty. Like most decent Americans, I feel an intense mixture of heartbreak, exhaustion, and anger. And all I've done is sit on my couch and watch the news reports. I can only imagine how the officers on the scene, who've lost five of their brothers and sisters in a single night, must feel right now. It's incomprehensible.
In this midst of all of this, I have two general thoughts I'd like to share:
1. Nobody should be surprised by this.
I received a message from a police officer this morning. He said he was deeply grieved by this anti-police attack in Dallas, but he was not in the least surprised by it. He echoed the same sentiment I've heard from countless other officers, some who've confided in me personally and some who've spoken or written about it publicly. He said he and his brother and sister officers have been working in a very hostile, anti-cop environment for sometime now. The media, our political leaders, many people on social media, etc., have been deliberately stoking the fires of anti-police animosity, and, as a police officer, he feels it. His family feels it. It's palpable. It's like a powder keg ready to explode. And last night it officially exploded.
Dallas police officers stand in a line near the site of shootings in downtown Dallas, early Friday, July 8, 2016. Snipers opened fire on police officers, police said; some were killed. (AP/LM Otero)
Obviously the perpetrators of this terrorist attack are the ones to blame. You pull the trigger, you assume the guilt. Nobody is looking to deflect their responsibility by putting all of the fault on "environment" or "rhetoric" or anything else. But nevertheless we must confront the undeniable fact that a lot of dangerous, reckless, incendiary lies have been told about cops. Lies that rather explicitly paint police -- or most police, or a great number of them -- as violent bigots literally "hunting" and killing innocent black people in the street for no reason. It's not as if this kind of rhetoric comes from the obscure leftist fringe. This is what we're told by some of the most powerful and prominent people in the nation.
The governor of Minnesota got up in front of a microphone yesterday and accused the officer involved in the Philando Castile shooting of being a racist. Without a shred of evidence, without any kind of investigation at all, without even speaking to the officer, Governor Dayton claimed he shot Castile because he was black: “Would this have happened if those passengers, the driver and the passengers, were white? I don’t think it would have. … I think all of us in Minnesota are forced to confront that this kind of racism exists.”
To call that kind of comment irresponsible would be a massive understatement. It's disgusting. It's reprehensible. It's evil. Governor Mark Dayton intentionally fanned the flames of racial division and resentment. He is a fool and a liar. His words weren't spoken in a vacuum. You don't get to publicly declare that police officers are trigger happy bigots prowling through the streets looking for black folks to execute, and suddenly act totally shocked and flabbergasted when people start to believe you, and then act accordingly.
[sharequote align="center"]Cops have been labeled murderous racists from all corners of society, starting at the very top.[/sharequote]
But this is just one example. Cops have been labeled murderous racists from all corners of society, starting at the very top. President Barack Obama gave a speech this week calling the killing of blacks by police a problem that is "not isolated." He said it's "symptomatic" of "racial disparities." That's just a more artful way of saying what the idiot governor of Minnesota said. He's calling law enforcement a racist conspiracy, in so many words. And he's lying. He knows he's lying. And intentional, slanderous lies like that have consequences.
The left had declared war on police very explicitly before Dallas, and I'm not just referring to the Black Lives Matter protesters who marched through the streets of New York shouting, "What do we want? Dead cops!" I'm talking about the narrative that's been concocted and pushed relentlessly by liberals in the media, government, academia, and so on. I'm talking about the myth of the innocent black men being killed left and right by racist cops. When you promote that kind of fable, when you turn real people into cartoon villains in an imaginary world you invented in your head, you put people at risk. You endanger lives. It's that simple.
Of course, innocent people have indeed been killed by cops in the past. Maybe one or two of the incidents this week fit into that category. We don't yet know. But, either way, it's not a systematic problem. It's not a symptomatic problem. It's not a widespread problem. And to whatever extent it is a problem, there is no evidence that it's a racist problem.
Micah Johnson. Screengrab from Facebook.
Most of the people who spread this "war on blacks" rhetoric know better. They must know better because the statistics are easy to find. It takes 17 seconds on Google to discover that more white people have been killed by cops this year than blacks and Hispanics combined. White people are almost twice as likely to be killed by cops than black people. There were twice as many whites killed by cops last year than blacks. Yes, it's true that black people are a smaller percentage of the population, but they also commit a disproportionate number of violent crimes, which means they are involved in a disproportionate number of altercations with police.
There were over 900 people killed by cops last year. The vast majority were not black, and the vast majority were armed. The myth of the epidemic of unarmed black men being killed by cops is just that: a myth. There is no evidence to support it. None. What we have are a few isolated cases that make national news, while other cases, like the unarmed white teenager gunned down by police just a couple of weeks ago, are completely ignored because they don't fit the narrative.
If you want to say that cops are generally too quick to pull the trigger, that's a different conversation. I don't think I'd agree considering 900 deaths in a country of 330 million isn't a very high percentage at all. Not to mention, how many of the people killed by cops were in the process of trying to kill a cop or someone else? To lump all 900 deaths into one category and declare them all a "problem" is profoundly idiotic. It stands to reason that a great number of them were completely uncontroversial. A person tried to shoot a cop and got shot back. Would anyone dispute an officer's right to kill someone who was trying to kill him? These days, maybe they would.
But whatever you say about the general issue of police fatalities in the United States, you simply cannot parse it down and make it a racial issue. If you say fewer people should be killed by cops -- fine. If you say, specifically, fewer black people should be killed because all of those killings were motivated by racism while the other killings were motivated by something that couldn't possibly explain the black killings -- then I say you're speaking gibberish. You make no sense. You're lying. And lies have consequences. Just ask the cops in Dallas.
2. I would not want to be a cop in today's America. Thank God for those willing to make the sacrifice.
With all of that in mind, I would never want to be a police officer in this environment. It's a hard enough job already, but when you have the most powerful voices in society against you -- attacking you, libeling you, stereotyping you, putting you at risk for reprisals for crimes you didn't commit -- it seems almost impossible.
One of the most heartbreaking scenes amidst the chaos came just this morning. The Dallas police chief, a black man, gave a press conference to update the media on the investigation into the attacks. He said one thing that should hit us all right in the gut: "We don't feel much support most days. Let's not make today most days."
That is a searing and necessary indictment on our entire society, coming straight from a black police officer. They don't feel much support from the very communities they are serving. These are men and women who have truly put their lives on the line to protect and serve us, and what they get in return is animosity. Accusation. Slander. It's disgusting. We should be ashamed.
I'm not saying they're all perfect or above criticism. I'm not even saying they're all good or even competent. But I am saying we should have a healthy respect and appreciation for the job and those who are willing to do it. If you watched the news last night, you saw dozens of police officers, many armed with pistols and not wearing vests, rushing toward the gunfire to potentially die in service to the very people who were protesting them. If you cannot appreciate that, if you cannot see that for the noble and courageous thing that it is, then you are a spiritually broken and morally destitute person.
I would not want to do what they do, especially in the environment they're forced to do it in. I am not brave enough. I am not selfless enough. And unless you're a cop or a soldier, you probably aren't, either. So have some damned respect for the ones who are. They've earned that much at least.
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