Fred LaSor: Police, racism and burning cities
A friend from my pre-Nevada days forwarded an opinion piece from an Army friend with whom he served in Vietnam, a friend who went on to retire with two stars on his uniform.
The general, member of a racial minority himself, concludes his opinion piece thus: “If one is a racial minority and is constantly told the odds are stacked up against you, you naturally feel a sense of anger, hopelessness, and resentment. On the other hand, if you understand that America offers true opportunity for you to grasp, you will be grateful and hopeful.”
America is rightfully offended and outraged by the violent actions of four Minneapolis policeman who used excessive force subduing a suspect, violent actions that resulted in dismissal and serious charges following that suspect’s death. Now the public outrage over George Floyd’s death has spread across the entire country and around the world and is kept alive by politicians, race hustlers, and others who will not bring Floyd back to life, but who offer victimhood to people they hope to exploit for money or votes.
“Black Lives Matter,” protestors scream and paint on national shrines, along with other slogans that cannot be printed in a family newspaper. Some are catchy slogans, in part because black lives surely matter. But the effort is short-sighted, because other aspects of black life matter too: educational attainment, quality of life for families, freedom to succeed in their own business, and freedom NOT to be killed or burned out by marauding gangs from their own neighborhood. BLM wants us to focus on victimhood at the hands of the police after George Floyd’s death. Nine other Americans have died during the riots so far, none at the hands of police, and BLM has nothing to say about those deaths.
We are now faced with a great choice: shall we be the land of opportunity the general quoted above writes about, or shall we choose to identify as victims, dependent on a government that repeatedly demonstrates its inability to protect the weak? If America is indeed racist, is the solution to allow local businesses to be torched and their inventory ransacked and plundered?
Responding to the admonition never to let a crisis go to waste, the Minneapolis City Council is now discussing another opportunity: defunding their police force and replacing it with something that has not yet been defined or designed. Some wag suggested the people would be better off if the City Council were defunded.
Defunding cops strikes me as preposterous. But Minneapolis officials appear to be taking it seriously. Faced with a few bad police, they’ll do away with the whole institution. And in order to prove that police are bad, proponents of this movement will use mass hysteria and, if they use data at all, inaccurate data.
There are not thousands of killings every year of black men by white policemen. It turns out, based on FBI statistics, that last year there were around ten. Yes, that is more than there should be, but it can’t compare to the hundreds of black lives that were snuffed out by gang bangers and criminals from their own community. If black lives truly mattered to the demonstrators, they would be calling for better policing in black neighborhoods, not for abolishing the police entirely.
Police departments are run by city officials. The same politicians who now threaten to defund police have been running Minneapolis, Chicago, Atlanta, and Philadelphia for generations. A better solution than ending police departments would be to end the one-party rule of those cities and allow citizens to experience the opportunity the General describes in my opening paragraph.
Fred LaSor retired from the U.S. Foreign Service and moved to the Carson Valley 15 years ago.