A year ago, two police officers in New York were executed while they sat in their patrol car. A week ago, five cops were killed in Dallas. Now three more officers have been murdered in Baton Rouge by a man inspired to kill because he believed the news about police unfairly targeting black men.
If you are to believe to President Obama, who issued a statement right after the shooting, these events should not be linked to anyone or any movement: “These attacks are the work of cowards who speak for no one. They right no wrongs. They advance no causes.”
One needs wonder if President Obama’s eagerness to explicitly reject the connection between any movement (including Black Lives Matter) and the string of murdered police officers is a result of the sort of criticism recently lodged against him by writers like Myron Magnet at City Journal. Magnet, a recipient of the National Humanities Medal, recently penned an opinion piece entitled “America’s Worst President? I nominate Obama, the Anti-Lincoln.”
Magnet’s main point is that Obama has stoked the flames of resentment against police officers throughout his presidency by repeatedly—either explicitly or implicitly—suggesting white police officers’ shootings of non-white people are acts of racism. Meanwhile, Obama largely ignored the scourge of black-on-black crime, delivering only a single speech on the topic.
What’s Wrong With Leaving Police High and Dry
Maybe Obama should have listened to his former chief of staff turned Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanuel, who late last year blamed the uptick in violent crime in Chicago on police officers “going fetal” and second-guessing their actions because of the national scrutiny on the way they do their job.
Ironically, it appears Obama’s silence on black-on-black crime coupled with intense scrutiny on police officers—either using the bully pulpit of his office or using the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division—has made our country decidedly less safe for the very people of color he professes to want to help. Like so many campaigns of the progressive left (such as welfare, overtime mandates, and minimum wage increases) the Black Lives Matter movement makes life worse for the people it is designed to benefit.
Still, despite the empirical evidence that BLM is adversely affecting the very communities it is designed to help, many people still think there is merit to the protest movement. After all, there are pretty obvious cases of overzealous white police officers shooting and killing black people in an unjustified manner. In some of these cases, it also appears there is racism involved. Shouldn’t there be a protest movement for these cases? Take the case of the white police officer in South Carolina who was filmed shooting a black suspect in the back as he fled.
As the son of a retired police officer who was shot in the line of duty—while trying to apprehend a suspect who had already killed another police officer—let me be the first to say I agree with those who think civic engagement in communities should hold police officers accountable for their work. We should do this in the same way we might hold any of our public officials accountable for what they do for us.
Defunding a Crucial Part of Government Isn’t Accountability
This, though, brings us to the crux of why BLM is rotten at its core: It is not like any other movement to keep our public servants accountable. The goal of the BLM movement is to systematically undermine our nation’s law enforcement officers and make their job both less safe and less effective. Just listen to a recent interview of three founders of the movement on NPR.
In typical NPR fashion, Ari Shapiro fawns over the BLM founders, asking them, “Given all of the momentum that your movement has right now, given all the attention being paid to Black Lives Matter, on this the third anniversary, what is one tangible thing that you would like to see this inertia lead to?”
The immediate answer from BLM founder Patrisse Cullors: “Defunding police departments.” How can BLM say the movement is pro-police if its stated goal is to eliminate the very funding that makes it possible for police to safely fight crime in our streets?
It is a common refrain of the Left that government programs are ineffective because stingy fiscal conservatives don’t put enough resources into them: just ask any Democrat why education, social service programs, and government health care don’t achieve the promised results. The answer is always that we just haven’t funded them adequately. Why should police departments be any different?
After the sort of police shooting we just witnessed in Baton Rouge, activists will no doubt flood social media and cable news with a defense of BLM like the one recently made by “Daily Show” host Trevor Noah: “If you’re pro-Black Lives Matter, you’re assumed to be anti-police,” he says in the sort of haughty didactic tone that has made “The Daily Show” so popular amongst leftists. “And if you’re pro-police, then you surely hate black people. It seems that it’s either pro-cop and anti-black or pro-black and anti-cop, when in reality you can be pro-cop and pro-black.”
No, Mr. Noah, you can’t be both pro-cop and pro-black if you’re part of the BLM movement. BLM is explicitly anti-cop and, if you think anything else, you’re just not listening to them.