Sunday, December 21, 2014

Everyone Else’s Fault

“Unfortunately, I don’t believe anyone connected to law enforcement is surprised this happened,” said Gary McLhinney, a former Baltimore police union president and former chief of the Maryland Transportation Authority police, who is now a labor negotiator for police unions. “Political rhetoric and lies have consequences. When our leaders make statements that encourage lawlessness and demean an entire profession, this is the result.”

And former New York governor George Pataki, responding to the shootings via Twitter, said that he was “sickened by these barbaric acts, which sadly are a predictable outcome of divisive anti-cop rhetoric” of Holder and de Blasio.
Two New York City police officers are shot and killed in a brazen ambush in Brooklyn
Really? It's somehow beyond reason that the gunman, identified by police as one Ismaaiyl Brinsley, could have been upset about what happened to Michael Brown and Eric Garner - especially given that he'd already shown diminished respect for the law in the shooting of his girlfriend earlier?

This strikes me as an extension, to its illogical extreme, of our "confessional culture" in which nothing is real unless certain people admit to it. The idea that an African-American New Yorker would have, despite the clear public anger over tragic interactions between police officers and citizens, been unwilling to resort to violence so long as Attorney-General Holder and Mayor de Blasio had simply toed the police line that it was all Brown's and Garner's faults that things went South on them is somewhere between openly disingenuous and utterly moronic. Especially considering the weeks of sometimes-violent street protests that followed the Brown shooting, and, as I've already mentioned, the violent acts that had already been attributed to Brinsley.

Whenever something like this happens - think the Rodney King beating - and the African-American community erupts into violence, there is always a stream of criticism that runs something along the lines of: "Why are people trashing their own communities because of the actions of people outside of that community?" But now that the violence has been aimed directly at the institution that many people hold to be responsible for the events that have triggered so many protests, police apologists are quick to lay the blame at the feet of others, as if, despite all of the nights of unrest, anger and property damage, actually taking out one's ire on the perceived source of the problem is simply beyond every last member of a community that comprises millions of people nationwide.

McLhinney and Pataki are retreating back into the very thing that has so many people upset in the first place - that no matter what happens, it's never an issue with the police, and anyone who implies that they can make mistakes (or be subject to the same prejudices that anyone else can) or that people respond to their actions is an enemy of public safety and law enforcement. This makes the public out to be mindless drones who can only act when prodded by their betters in government. Something that hasn't been true for the entire history of the nation, and it unlikely to have taken root anytime in the recent past.
“Some of the [social-media] postings, which I understand are out there, would seem to indicate that he [Brinsley] had a very strong bias against police officers,” [New York Police Commissioner William J. Bratton] said.
For supporters of the police to blame that bias on public officials who they feel are not properly supportive of them comes across as little more than an attempt to shift causality in the service of mandating adherence to a party line. And in so doing, perpetrate a disservice on everyone involved.

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