The Fire Spreads

Heather Mac Donald, City-Journal, July 17, 2016

{snip} But the overwhelming odds are that this most recent assault on law and order, taking the lives of three officers and wounding at least three more, is the direct outcome of the political and media frenzy that followed the police shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, less than two weeks ago. That frenzy further amplified the dangerously false narrative that racist police officers are the greatest threat facing young black men today.

President Barack Obama bears direct responsibility for the lethal spread of that narrative. In a speech from Poland just hours before five officers were assassinated in Dallas on July 7, Obama misled the nation about policing and race, charging officers nationwide with preying on blacks because of the color of their skin. Obama rolled out a litany of junk statistics to prove that the criminal justice system is racist. Blacks were arrested at twice the rate of whites, he complained, and get sentences almost 10 percent longer than whites for the same crime. Missing from Obama’s address was any mention of the massive racial differences in criminal offending and criminal records that fully account for arrest rates and sentence lengths. {snip}

Then five Dallas officers were gunned down out of race hatred and cop hatred. Did Obama shelve his incendiary rhetoric and express his unqualified support for law enforcement? No, he doubled down, insulting law enforcement yet again even as it was grieving for its fallen comrades. In a memorial service for the Dallas officers, Obama rebuked all of America for its “bigotry,” but paid special attention to alleged police bigotry:

When African-Americans from all walks of life, from different communities across the country, voice a growing despair over what they perceive to be unequal treatment, when study after study shows that whites and people of color experience the criminal justice system differently. So that if you’re black, you’re more likely to be pulled over or searched or arrested; more likely to get longer sentences; more likely to get the death penalty for the same crime. When mothers and fathers raised their kids right, and have the talk about how to respond if stopped by a police officer–yes, sir; no, sir–but still fear that something terrible may happen when their child walks out the door; still fear that kids being stupid and not quite doing things right might end in tragedy.

When all this takes place, more than 50 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, we cannot simply turn away and dismiss those in peaceful protest as troublemakers or paranoid.

The irresponsible zealotry of this rebuke was stunning. Obama was fully on notice that the hatred of cops was reaching homicidal levels. And yet his commitment to prosecuting his crusade against phantom police racism trumped considerations of prudence and safety, on the one hand, and decent respect for the fallen, on the other. {snip}

It is possible that the Dallas killers and the Baton Rouge killers had not heard Obama’s most recent speeches on criminal-justice racism, or even the many that preceded them. But even if the cop murderers had not encountered Obama’s exact words, the influence of his rhetoric on the hatred in the streets is absolute. Obama’s imprimatur on the Black Lives Matter demagoguery gives it enormous additional thrust and legitimacy, echoing throughout public discourse into the most isolated corners of the inner city.

{snip}

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