Neil Dorr is among my favorite regular Ethics Alarms commenters, because he is passionate, articulate and fearless, and because he disagrees with me about 85% of the time. I’m also fond of Neil because he is part of an esteemed father-son team here: Karl Penny, his dad, had registered his commentary at Ethics Alarms since its launch. Neil informed me this month that his father had died, suddenly and unexpectedly. It is strange: I had never met Karl face-to-face, but I feel like I have lost a friend, so vivid and good-natured were his periodic communications here. Neil, of course, has lost far more, and my heart and good wishes go out to him and his family.
Someone had to register this response to my conclusions regarding the assassinations of two police officers in New York. I assumed that this would be the reaction of many and perhaps the majority, which is why I almost didn’t post my position. I know it walks into the spinning propeller of predictable resistance to truth-telling on this issue.
The media is already doing a bang-up job confusing the public and muddying the water, primarily by misrepresenting the situation as a) a dispute over “police abuse,”when the issue is the presumed racism of the system; b) focusing on NYC Mayor De Blasio, who is a minor player at best, and c) making it seem like the consequences of the despicable “Hands up!” propaganda are a local New York issue only. In this they have been ably assisted by clumsy blow-hards like Rudy Giuliani, who virtually made a straw man and handed it to his critics. “Is Giuliani correct in saying that President Obama started a propaganda campaign four months ago that “everybody should hate the police”? asked Washington Post “Fact Checker” on the way to giving Rudy four “Pinnochios.” Of course he wasn’t correct. I, however, am correct when I conclude that Obama and others have created an environment where African Americans fear and distrust the police, the justice system, and their fellow citizens who happen to be white more than any period since the Civil Rights movement. I know that Obama supporters disheartened Democrats hate to hear this, and will resist accepting it like the approach of grim death. They can take solace, perhaps, in the fact that my influence on and ability to enlighten public perception is negligible, so with the help of the news media, accountability can be ducked once again, at least for a while. Maybe after the death toll rises sufficiently, people will be ready to listen….to someone else with a bigger megaphone, presumably.
Here is Neil Dorr’s Comment of the Day on the post “After The Brooklyn Cop Murders, The Sound Of Spinning: WindyPundit Takes On My ‘Smear,'” and yes, I will have a rebuttal at the end:
“.. who have finally managed to get police killed ..”
Statements like this are indefensible. These shootings are barely a week old and before we’ve even had a chance to try and understand what happened or why, you’re already assigning narrative complete with motive. How does this make you any better than those in Ferguson you were so quick to blame for jumping to conclusions? What if, arguendo, it’s discovered the two officers in question were working for the mob and had been threatening Brinsley for years, or that the shooter was someone else and he’s being framed? Neither of these scenarios is likely, I realize, but they also can’t (currently) be disproven. Yet, before the bodies are even cold, you can definitively lay claim to exactly what happened and exactly who’s responsible? I’m sorry, but I call foul.
Even if you accept that increased race-baiting, blame-shifting, and misinformation have created a culture of distrust and further fostered an “us vs. them” mentality (something I wouldn’t disagree with), no one on the left, right, center, or elsewhere purchased a gun, put it in Ismaaiyl Brinsley’s hands, and told him that executing two of NYPD’s finest was a going to make things better. Yet, over the last few days, I’ve read in disbelief as you hold Obama, John Lewis, Bill DeBlasio, and numerous other lefties as being more or less directly responsible.
Whatever culpability they may have in instigating the aforementioned culture of distrust, none of that equates to homicide. What you’re doing is akin to blaming Columbine on bullies, or that unfair tax policies caused a man to kamikaze an IRS building, or that eroding personal liberties were responsible for Oklahoma City. We’re talking about a disturbed individual (further evidenced by the fact that he also shot his ex-girlfriend, who was otherwise uninvolved) who tried to justify his own sick, murderous rage by using convenient rhetoric that was readily at hand. Yet, suddenly, it’s the rhetoric that gets called into question, not the madman who man manipulated it to fit his own twisted worldview.
Speech doesn’t equate to action (that’s why one is [mostly] free while the other has heavy limitations), so I can’t see how blame can ultimately lay with anyone but the shooter himself. If I were to tell you that Stephen King is responsible for the deaths of everyone you’ve ever loved and that killing him would bring them all back, would that make me culpable if you were to “make his head explode” with a shotgun? Unfortunately, Brinsley decided to take his own life before society could mete out proper justice, leaving everyone (including you) scrambling to find someone else to blame.
None of the people you’ve mentioned said word one about violence or did anything even close to endorsing murder and, even if they had, there would still be no one to blame but the one who pulled the trigger. You’re using the deaths of two men to justify a political outlook and I find it absolutely deplorable. You’re a better man than this, Jack. Far, far better.
To dispose of the least fair of Neil’s characterizations from the outset, this is not a political issue for me, and I defy anyone to make a case that it is. The fact that Democrats are the race-baiting party (Do you believe in enforcing the borders and not rewarding illegal behavior? You’re a racist, then.) and that they have adopted that tactic with a vengeance since before Barack Obama was a twinkle in the party’s eye, does not mean that I deplore it because it is theirs. I deplore it, detest it and condemn it, and always have, in all its forms, regardless of agent or motive. Am I suppose to applaud the intentional creation of racial disharmony and distrust in the furtherance of bi-partisanship? Any party, and any leader that exploited racial tensions this way would be criticized by me with venom and gusto, and I do not comprehend Democrats and progressives who do not find this as horrible as I do. It is proof of a lack of integrity, clinical denial, or something else I cannot identify. One alternative is total corruption.
The literal complaint that since Obama, Holder, Sharpton, et. al. didn’t put the gun in Brinsley’s hands, they have no accountability is just silly. I have predicted, more than once, that the irresponsible “narrative” that there is a system-wide effort in the U.S. to oppress and murder black men would get people killed, and the New York cops were almost certainly not the first. Remember the various attacks on whites in 2012 by young black men who said, “This is for Trayvon” or something similar? I will stipulate that Spike Lee, Rosie O’Donnell, the Congressional Black Caucus members who wore hoodies in the House and President Obama saying that Martin could have been his son, as well as the news media publishing angelic photos of the deceased at the age of 13 and playing doctored tapes that made Zimmerman sound like a racist didn’t literally take control of those attackers’ bodies and compel them against their wills to beat up innocent citizens.
Yet in 1995, nobody in the mainstream media questioned the popular consensus on the Left that the over-heated anti-government rhetoric coming from the Republican Right led by Newt Gingrich had activated a lot of crazies and created the toxic environment that led to the Oklahoma City bombing, which took 168 lives.
No, Newt didn’t build the bomb or drive the car. But the GOP thought they had Clinton and the Democrats on the ropes, and the demonization of the Federal government had entered a new stage of irresponsible ugliness. Rush Limbaugh bleated like a slaughtered lamb that the accusation that he and others had sparked the violence was just scapegoating and an effort to silence him and Clinton’s critics, which in part it was. In greater part, however, rational people recognized that you can’t bombard the public with the claim that the Federal government wants to enslave us and not have a substantial number of the ignorant, the easily led, the irresponsible, the angry, the disenfranchised and the insane believe it, and perhaps act on the belief. Conservatives did in fact tone down the rhetoric, at least for a while.
Hyping racism for political gain and spreading false narratives to frighten and inflame the passions of African Americans is far, far worse than demonizing big government—because there is so much in the past and present of American race relations that justifies suspicion.
I won’t rehash what I have written already, except to say that when prominent officials, elected leaders and others with credibility in the black community state, suggest or imply, as Sharpton, Obama, Lewis, De Blasio and many others have, that innocent, law-abiding African-Americans are at risk of being murdered in cold blood by police (This is what “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” means, and again, it is a lie), that someone, or many, will take preemptive action to protect their children and their neighbors is predictable, and I would say inevitable.
Neil’s defense when this happens will be popular and is usually effective. It still ignores reality, and validates an irresponsible political strategy that will not only get people killed, but tear this country apart.