Heather Mac Donald reacts to
Obama’s extraordinary statement last week alleging systemic racism in American law enforcement. He was speaking in the aftermath of two highly publicized fatal police shootings. Viral video captured the shooting of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La., as officers attempted to disarm him, and the aftermath of the shooting of Philando Castile during a car stop outside St. Paul, Minn.
Those shootings look horribly unjustified based on the videos alone; but information may emerge to explain the officers’ belief that the victims were reaching for a gun.
A few hours after…Obama made his remarks, the Dallas gunman assassinated five police officers, in a rampage that police officials later reported was driven by hatred of white officers and white people generally.
…Obama’s statement undoubtedly had no causal relationship to the Dallas slaughter. But it certainly added to the record of distortion and falsehood that has stoked widespread animus toward the police.
It bears repeating: Unjustified shootings by police officers are an aberration, not the norm, and there is no evidence that racism drives police actions.
Every year, officers confront tens of thousands of armed felons without using lethal force. According to the Washington Post, police officers fatally shot 987 people in the U.S. last year; the overwhelming majority were armed or threatening deadly force.
Blacks made up a lower percentage of those police-shooting victims—26%—than would be predicted by the higher black involvement in violent crime. Whites made up 50% of police shooting victims, but you would never know it from media coverage. Note also that police officers face an 18.5 times greater chance of being killed by a black male than an unarmed black male has of being killed by a police officer.
Indifferent to these facts, …Obama on Thursday, referring to the police killings in Baton Rouge and St. Paul, said: “[T]hese are not isolated incidents. They’re symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system.” He made another sweeping allegation of law-enforcement racism, saying that there “are problems across our criminal justice system, there are biases—some conscious and unconscious—that have to be rooted out.” And he claimed that higher rates of arrests and stops among blacks reflect police discrimination; naturally, Mr. Obama remained silent about blacks’ far higher rates of crime.
Such corrosive rhetoric about the nation’s police officers and criminal-justice system is unsettling coming from the president of the United States, but it reflects how thoroughly the misinformation propagated by Black Lives Matter and the media has taken hold. Last month Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, dissenting in a case about police searches, wrote that blacks are “routinely targeted” by law enforcement, adding that “Until their voices matter, too, our justice system will continue to be anything but.”
Hillary Clinton has also taken up this warped cause. On CNN Friday, she decried “systemic” and “implicit bias” in police departments. She also called on “white people” to better understand blacks “who fear every time their children go somewhere.”
Mrs. Clinton ought to take a look at Chicago. Through July 9, 2,090 people have been shot this year, including a 3-year-old boy shot on Father’s Day who will be paralyzed for life, an 11-year-old boy wounded on the Fourth of July, and a 4-year-old boy wounded last week. How many of the 2,090 victims in Chicago were shot by cops? Nine.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump emphasized “law and order” in a video released Friday, saying: “We must stand in solidarity with law enforcement, which we must remember is the force between civilization and total chaos.”
Given the nightmarish events of the past several days, Mr. Trump could do worse than making this presidential campaign one about that line between civilization and anarchy.
I am about to recant my opposition to Trump. Recent events remind me why the election of another Democrat to the presidency would be a deep disaster for the country. For one thing — but far from the only thing — Democrats have a penchant for seeing criminals and terrorists as victims, not as the enemies that they are.
As I wrote more than ten years ago, in the context of terrorism,
[w]e had better get used to that idea that war is the answer, and see to it that adequate force is used, sooner rather than later. Those who would use force against us will heed only force. Whether, in defeat, they will respect us or “merely” fear us is irrelevant. We are not engaged in a popularity contest, we are engaged in a clash of civilizations, which Norman Podhoretz rightly calls World War IV.
On our present political course, however, we will suffer grave losses before we get serious about winning that war. The Left (or the Opposition, as I now call it), seems insensitive to the danger that faces us.
And so it is with crime. The Opposition is just as feckless about law and order as it is about terrorism.
* * *
Black Terrorists and “White Flight”
Free Will, Crime, and Punishment
Race and Reason: The Achievement Gap — Causes and Implications
Left-Libertarians, Obama, and the Zimmerman Case
“Conversing” about Race
Stop, Frisk, and Save Lives
The Barbarians Within and the State of the Union
Evolution and Race
“Wading” into Race, Culture, and IQ
Round Up the Usual Suspects
Poverty, Crime, and Big Government
A Cop-Free World?
Amen to That