“I always try to find something good that comes out of conflicts like this, and perhaps people realize that this is not a Ferguson problem at all; it’s a problem around the country. And as long as people feel awkward and embarrassed in talking about the racism that exists, we can never, never, never attack it…The indifference of the patrol officer’s an indication that good people ought to say that you should be sorry when you take anybody’s life. It’s not just the question of what you thought of whether you were afraid…. his total indifference just polarized that community, and I only wish that — that they had not vented themselves in a violent way and taken advantage of people coming together, white and black, and saying that you should at least be able to say you made a hell of a big mistake at least.”
—–Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), wandering confused in the ethics wilderness while discussing the Ferguson mess on MSNBC.
I supposed we should expect Rep. Rangel to be completely muddled when it comes to ethics, given his own history. Still, seldom have I seen such a dog’s breakfast of responsible sentiments and ethics ignorance in the same set of comments:
- Congratulations are due to Rangel for admitting that this Ethics Train Wreck unfairly settled in Ferguson, which is being made to suffer disproportionately for the conduct of many communities and elected officials across the country, as well as the political opportunism of civil rights activists.
- However, public officials have an obligation to be clear. What “racism that exists,” exactly? Anywhere in the U.S.? Absolutely: let’s talk about it. In the shooting of Brown? No racism is in evidence at all: if that’s what Rangel is referring to, and many will assume its is, the statement is irresponsible. Was he talking about the grand jury decision, which was the context of the interview? Prove it, Charlie. Otherwise, stop planting distrust with a population that is paranoid already.
- Michael Brown’s actions, from Wilson’s point of view, forced him into a situation that has resulted in his career being ruined and life being permanently marred….and Rangel thinks Wilson should apologize? This is completely backward. Wilson owes no apologies to Brown, and certainly none to Brown’s parents, who have been carrying on a vendetta against him, calling him a murderer while expressing no acknowledgment that the son they raised had any responsibility for the confrontation that took his life. If anyone owes anybody an apology, it the parents who owe Wilson. Rangel thinks Wilson should apologize for trying to do his job, for not letting Brown take his gun, for not letting him resist arrest, for not letting himself be attacked, and that is ridiculous.
- Perhaps Rangel is saying that Wilson should issue an insincere apology, like the one Rangel gave to the House of Representatives after he had been found to have violated multiple ethics rules. Thus does politics rot the mind and soul. See, Charlie, just because politicians apologize when they don’t mean it just to quiet criticism doesn’t mean it’s honest or right.
- Rangel is a veteran of combat in Korea. He can’t possibly believe that “you should be sorry when you take anybody’s life,” not if one is acting legally and justifiably, like soldiers in battle or a police officer being attacked by someone resisting arrest. Did you say you were sorry to the families of the North Koreans you killed in the war, Charlie?
I didn’t think so.
- “You should at least be able to say you made a hell of a big mistake at least”—thus admitting to manslaughter or civil negligence. Good advice, Charlie. If Wilson followed policy, as he says he did, then he did not make a mistake. Rangel apparently doesn’t understand the perils of consequentialism and moral luck. The fact that Mike Brown ended up dead means that he made a mistake, but not necessarily that Wilson made one. Lesley McSpadden, Brown’s mother, has asked, “How could your conscience be clear after killing someone, even if it was an accidental death?” Is she really this confused? Brown’s death was certainly not accidental, whatever it was. She should ask Rangel about those North Koreans. Is his conscience clear about having to kill them? I presume the answer is yes, and for similar reasons, Wilson’s conscience should be clear as well.
Source: PJ tatler