Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Thoughts on the Murder of Ramos and Liu

When Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords was shot a few years ago the left was all over the media blaming what they called the "incendiary rhetoric" of conservatives like Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh for creating a climate that encouraged acts of violence. Now that two New York Police officers have been gunned down by a black murderer will the same folks who were so sure that the relatively anodyne comments of Palin and Limbaugh were responsible for the Giffords tragedy now be insisting that Eric Holder, Al Sharpton, the New York City protestors who demanded dead cops, and Mayor Bill DiBlasio all be blamed for the murders of these officers? Don't hold your breath.

When masses of people march through the streets of the city shouting "What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want it? Now!", when the attorney general of the nation and the mayor of the city both use rhetoric the logic of which indicts police officers for the deaths of people they're trying to arrest, when ignorant, ill-educated people are encouraged by provocateurs to think that cops are deliberately killing black men because they're black, then the blood of officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu is not only on on the hands of the man who pulled the trigger but, according to the logic of those who blamed conservatives for the Giffords shooting, also on those of the people who contributed to a climate in which people feel justified in hating cops.

I'm personally reluctant to make the connection between rhetoric and deed in every case, but the semi-literate moral morons who celebrated the murder of these two officers on twitter willfully accept upon themselves a share of the moral guilt for these murders. To applaud the act is to dip one's own hands in the victims' blood. It is also to declare publicly that one is an execrable human being.

We've heard much in the media about how black lives matter, the subtext being that blacks are frequently killed by white police just because they're black. Indeed, no story on the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Garner failed to mention that these men were killed by white police officers (or a "white Hispanic" in the case of George Zimmerman). Yet as I watched the reports of the murders of Ramos and Liu on MSNBC the race of the shooter was scarcely mentioned. Why not? Is race only relevant when a black man is killed by a white man? When whites kill blacks is it ipso facto an act of racism, but when blacks kill whites it's something different?

In fact, as was stated in an earlier post, police are more likely to be murdered by blacks than vice versa and blacks are infinitely more likely to be killed by other blacks than by police. Why are there massive protests in the wake of the Garner and Brown deaths but not in the wake of the hundreds of black kids (on average, 40 a month) gunned down by other blacks just in Chicago alone every year?

If the deaths of Garner and Brown point to a serious problem in the prevailing racial attitudes among whites, as numerous commenters have alleged, what do the murders of Ramos and Liu point to? Why are there no calls to seriously probe the racism among blacks in our society?

Mayor DiBlasio publicly criticizes his police rather than support them and is then stunned when police are gunned down on the streets of Brooklyn. Why? In the wake of the Eric Garner death DiBlasio pontificated about having to have "the talk" with his son who is a racially mixed young man. Blacks frequently mention the need to have "the talk" with their sons, cautioning them to be leery of the police, as if "the talk" was a burden only blacks must bear, but it's not. My father had "the talk" with his sons as well. My father instructed my brothers and me that if ever we were stopped by the police to be courteous and respectful. Do whatever they tell you to do. Don't give them a reason to make your life difficult. I suspect that a lot of white fathers in the neighborhood I grew up in between Chester and south Philadelphia in Pennsylvania had the same talk with their sons.

When DiBlasio, the cops' boss, tells the world that he had to give similar advice to his son because his son is African American he implied that a lot of the cops in his city were racists looking for an excuse to bring the hammer down on black kids. Not only was it a public insult to the police of New York it's the sort of statement that feeds into the anger of those who would wish the police harm.

No wonder the cops turned their backs on him when he gave a press conference following the deaths of Ramos and Liu.

When people begin to hold themselves to the same standard of behavior to which they hold their ideological opponents we'll begin to see less polarization in our politics. When people stop making racism the first explanation for every tragedy and offense and begin making it the last, and when everyone, no matter their race, is held to the same standards and set of expectations, we'll begin to see less polarization between the races in our society.