Protestors have been marching all around the nation, protesting police brutality. It’s hard to take some of these protests seriously, especially when they involve violence and looting, or when they take place in poverty stricken and down-trodden enclaves such as Berkley, California or Boulder, Colorado, where police brutality is such a problem and where poverty means struggling along on less than a million dollars a year. In other places, other communities, it may well be a reflection of mutual distrust between law enforcement and minorities.
Some pundits have accused both President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder of being divisive over this issue, making it more of a racial issue than it either is or should be, but I don’t think that’s fair. Both Obama and Holder are black men, so they can’t help seeing the world through their own particular prism any more than I can help seeing the world through the eyes of a very privileged and pampered white man.
What I do think is wrong is that both Obama and Holder, and especially Hiz Honor the Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, as well as the protesters in the streets, and just about all the pundits and commentators, all of them, are screaming for more oversight of police, more restraint on the part of the police, more training for the police, more of this for the police, and less of that for the police. In other words, everyone is pointing at the police departments across America and laying the blame on them, as if all police are somehow solely responsible for all the ills of our society. This is as stupid and shortsighted as the gun control groups who blame an inanimate object for the actions of a criminal.
Not one single public person has put the blame for these incidents—whether they were justifiable or not—where it belongs, which is to say on a wide range of social and economic factors that have contributed to a black inner-city subculture of uneducated young men and women, broken families, and absent fathers, where violence is glorified, drugs are regarded as both a solace and a cool and lucrative way to earn a living, welfare is considered both a birthright and a substitute for personal responsibility, and the police—as representatives of mainstream (read “white”) society—are regarded as the enemy.
If you have young men, bursting with testosterone and energy and frustration, sitting at home with nothing to do, no education to do it with, no hope for a job, no hope for a future, no role models to follow, no moral guidance beyond violent video games and gangsta rap, and no belief in anything other than the most primal law-of-the-jungle code, what the hell do you think is going to happen?
But as far as I know (and I do try to follow the news) not one damned politician has suggested that maybe there are better places to assign blame than on the police.
I have heard blithering nonsense about shooting to wound, and I have already addressed that idiocy in an earlier blog (“Officer Involved Shootings” http://readjamesonparker.com/archives/2172 ) and more recently there has been a lot of equal nonsense about an “unarmed” man versus an armed police officer. Let me point something out to those of you who might not have ever had a violent physical encounter with someone: there is no such thing as an unarmed man. More people are murdered every year by what the FBI calls “personal weapons,” meaning fists, feet, and hands, than are murdered by rifles of any and all kinds, including those dweadful and scary semi-automatic rifles the government keeps trying to ban. When you add a seventy-five pound weight difference between the combatants (which is roughly the weight difference between the officer and the young assailant in Ferguson) it is a virtual impossibility for all but a tiny handful of men to prevail in such a fight. I spent twenty years studying karate (Shotokan), five years boxing, and one year studying Brazilian jujitsu. In all that time, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of men I trained with who might be able to prevail against a seventy-five pound weight difference, and three of those were professional instructors. The police get one short course on some very rudimentary self-defense tactics, and after that they’re on their own. So don’t babble on about “unarmed” men deserving kinder, gentler treatment.
But above all, don’t babble on about those evil police. Are there bad cops? Of course there are, possibly even as great a percentage as the percentage of bad people in society generally, but the vast majority of them are decent, honest men and women who do the best they can under circumstances that would make you or me or anyone else burst into tears of terror.
When you hear the sound of your back window shattering in the dark of night, who do you call? When you see a bunch of thugs beating and robbing a helpless victim, do you rush in to save the day, or do you dial 911? Do you want to be the one to try and stop drug dealers or human traffickers? If you see two rapists dragging a young girl into a car, are you going take them on, mano-a-mano?
Let’s stop bashing cops and start bashing the underlying factors that create violent young thugs of any color.