Friday, July 8, 2016

Yesterday's Murders: Old News

What do they know about policing we do not know? 

TO understand the significance of the shooting of 6 Dallas policemen last night by looking at the television coverage, one would think the story is one of how the police dead can be spun in the discussion of police murdering Black citizens.  Some of the coverage has made this into a "Black Lives Matter vs Police Lives Matter" story.

The palpable concern on the part of all the talking heads on TV was, "Oh, this is too bad because now the conversation shifts from how beastly the police are to how we have to protect the police, how we have to give them more license to be violent and how we have to stop worrying about Black lives matter and start worrying about police lives matter, so we've lost the argument."

Of course, all of this is nonsense and only highlights the stupidity of television news people who ask the wrong questions and see the wrong issues. The fact is, there is no argument: Murder is murder.

Significantly, Donald Trump said nothing about the Baton Rouge murder or the Minnesota murder, but he did say the shooting of the Dallas police was "an attack on our country." In doing so Mr. Trump was trying to gain political advantage from the six dead. He was trying to transform the act of murder into a symbolic act. But this sniper was not attacking America. He was  simply a murderer. 

Remarkably, the sniper in Dallas was quickly located and he was killed by a bomb wielding robot, after negotiations failed. 

According to Wade Goodwin, the Dallas NPR correspondent, the Dallas police had  actually been reasonably progressive,had been very open about police shooting citizens statistics; so they were, in a sense, an unlikely target.

But, of course, when you come to young lunatics  who plan to murder,  you cannot expect them to mind the demographics.  This sniper was not  like the crazies who flew the airplanes into the twin towers: Those lunatics could be said to be making a political statement. This particular lunatic was not making a political statement any more than the lunatic shooter at the Orlando night club, just another maniac with a gun. 

Which is not say there is no background to the shootings:  Goodwin did describe a scene at a 7/11 store which followed the shootings. The plate glass front of the store had been shot out by a stray sniper bullet and looting by neighborhood people began quickly. Thirty police responded and stood in front of the store to prevent further looting but then a crowd of youths, who were apparently intent on continuing pilfering, gathered and started taunting the police about the officers who were shot. 

So there is resentment and hate in Dallas. But there is resentment in Lawrence, Massachusetts and, for that matter in Hampton, New Hampshire,  but if you kill a policeman you are merely a murderer, not a revolutionary.

We had the chief of police in Greenland, New Hampshire killed by a white lunatic with an arsenal of guns some years ago. Donald Trump did not claim that was an attack on our country. The man was just exercising his second amendment rights, I suppose. Just another guy with gun. 

I also saw footage on TV of a Black teenager who was grinning ear to ear as he held up his arms as if he were firing a rifle, describing what he had seen of the snipers.  It was the imbecilic glee of a kid who just loves mayhem.  You got a glimpse of what police have to deal with--the young,the ignorant, the stupid, who can be quite lethal.

Of course, none of this has anything much to do with what we saw on the videos 48 hours ago, videos of police murdering, in separate incidents, two Black men.

The fact is, murder is murder, whether it is a white cop murdering a Black citizen or a Black man murdering a white cop. 

You can make the case, as some of the pundits have tried to do, and others will continue to do, that the killing of the white cops was a response of the rage of the Black communities, which feel the cops are an occupying force and who have no faith in the cops. But when a man pulls a trigger as a sniper in Dallas, he is not a soldier expressing the will of a group, or a revolutionary expressing the rage of an under class: He is simply a murderer.  He is not the bull driven to rage by the banderillas he is simply a mad dog who has to be put down.

The fact is, the response of the Black community, if such a thing exists might be better expressed by that amazing woman who sat in her car seat and video'd the murder of her boyfriend by police in a suburb of St. Paul, MN.  Clearly, she could not call 9-11 for help. 9-11 had already arrived and it was the problem.  So she called out to the internet for help. She might have believed there were other people out there, some of them white, who might help her. 

If NPR radio is to be believed, fewer police have died in the line of duty over the past five years than in previous years. Police are actually not being killed, even with the six dead in Dallas with increasing frequency.   But that does not matter when you think about Dallas. Statistics are scant comfort to the families of those dead cops. Murder is murder, not revolution, not a political statement, not an expression of the rage of an underclass. It is simply murder. No way to justify the snipers. No way to justify those cops who  are murderers. 

Each case is separate, must be tried separately. 

Once again, we might think again about the way policing is now done in this country, in every town and city.  We might learn from others, like the English. We might learn from the past, when we had cops on the beat who knew the members of the community personally.  But even if we do all the right things, as long as there are guns and as long as there are lunatics, we will have murder.

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