“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
– Martin Luther King Jr.
“Racism is simply an ugly form of collectivism, the mindset that views humans strictly as members of groups rather than individuals.”
“There is no path to peace, the path is peace.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh
What a week it has been. What turmoil we face as a nation.
After two highly publicized shootings by police, I already was feeling compelled to write something about what was going on, and then there was the shooting in Dallas. When a person dies there is no way to describe it other than as a tragedy. Even when it is justified, but especially when it is not. The jury is still out on whether the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were justified or not. Perhaps neither was, perhaps both were, or perhaps only one. From the knowledge I have gathered, I find it impossible to say in Alton Sterling’s case, and I am inclined to think that in the best case scenario, the situation with Philando Castile was a gross overreaction. More facts will come to light as time goes on, and I hope that if either killing was not justified that those responsible will be justly punished. But no matter what, both of those deaths are tragedies.
In contrast, it is quite clear that the killing of 5 Dallas police officers was unjustified. These officers were not in any way responsible for the deaths of Alton Sterling or Philando Castile. These men were doing their jobs, and protecting the protest of a group that frequently vilifies them. The Dallas police department performed admirably in the situation thrust upon them, and to my mind every officer on duty acted heroically. That we lost 5 brave officers to a coward with an axe to grind is a great tragedy.
How did we get here? I think there’s a few reasons. Bear with me, I’ll be addressing both issues of law enforcement and protest movements.
Police brutality is a problem in America. Don’t react too quickly to this. Most police officers are decent people who perform admirably. Much of the time, even if an officer makes mistakes that cost an innocent person their life, the officer is still a decent person. Obviously, there are outliers. There are crooked cops, and racist cops, and just outright incompetent cops, but these are the minority.
It’s important to note that police brutality is not exclusive to black people. Not accounting for justified vs. unjustified killings, 49% of people killed by police so far this year were white. 24% were black. The remainder were some other race. (source: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2015/jun/01/the-counted-police-killings-us-database) Yes, statistically, 24% is higher than the relative population of blacks to whites. However, statistically, black people tend to be involved in more crime and are therefore more likely to have encounters with police. As I will get to soon, more encounters with police equates to more death at the hands of police (not because the officers are bad people, but because it creates unsafe situations for both the officer and the civilian). Violent crime rates in 2012-2013, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, place white offenders of violent crime at 42.9%, and black offenders at 22.4%, which is not far off from the percentages of those killed by police.
It is my belief that most of the time (but not all of the time) when a person is killed by police, it is justified. It is always a tragedy. And much of the time, despite being justified, it is unnecessary. To illustrate my point, let’s think about why police pulled over Philando Castile and had an interaction with him that resulted in his death. It was a trivial matter, a broken tail light. Because a person had a broken tail light, he was pulled over, and a situation was created that resulted in a man’s death. Having nothing to go on other than a video of events happening after he was shot, it’s hard to know if a case can be made that the officer who shot him was justified in the decision. However, regardless of if he was or not, if a traffic stop was never made, Philando Castile would be alive. Interaction between police and civilians is inherently dangerous to both parties, and should be minimized. There is no reason that an officer should need to pull over a driver for a broken tail light. Safety issue? Ok, send them a letter in the mail. That sort of traffic stop is often used as an excuse to stop a car when the officer suspects they might find something else. Drugs is a big issue. Want to send police/civilian interactions way down (and stop a lot of the unjustified killings)? End the drug war.
Obviously, I can’t say no police officer has ever killed a black man where he wouldn’t have killed a white man because he was racist. But I don’t believe that it is a systemic problem. Innocent people of all races are killed by police too frequently, and we need to do everything that we can to minimize that number without vilifying police officers who for the most part are doing the best they can at an extremely difficult job.
The organization Black Lives Matter is also problematic. It is problematic for the same reason that the SJWs of the regressive left are problematic. Under the guise of fighting racism, it segregates people into groups on the basis of race, or gender, or sexuality.
Specific activists within that community are a problem. There are more than a few who have a clear hatred of white people. It’s not hard to see why those people would spring up. BLM demands that white people all admit that they are racist because, being white, they can’t help but be. The ideology says that minorities cannot be racist, because they redefine racism to be something that only a person with “power” can be (as though all white people have great political and economic power, and no non-white person does). When you tell someone that ALL white people are racist, and that blacks and minorities CAN’T be racist, then is it any surprise that you end up with a climate in which a black shooter kills 5 police officers and tells police that he wants to kill white people, especially white police officers? This is the same group that chants anti-police rhetoric at their rallies. This is the same group who interrupts and holds hostage events of even people who are ideologically on their side and demands that they be allowed to do whatever they want.
Other than private conversations with a few people, I have long been silent on how I feel about the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s not that I don’t think black lives matter, it’s that the movement is irresponsible and often ideologically dangerous. No, they did not encourage or condone the shooting last night, but they did, perhaps unknowingly, contribute to the climate that gave rise to it.
I love my black friends. I would be devastated if any one of them were to die, especially if it was unjust. But I cannot support that movement. I will not ever admit to something that I am not (racist). I will not agree that a minority cannot be racist (I’ve met some who are, and I’ve been hated by them on the basis of my race).
You can’t solve racism by dividing people up into groups based on their skin color. You can’t do it by dictating that people who have white skin have nothing to contribute to the conversation.
Racism as an ideology will die out with time. The best thing those of us who are not racist (the vast majority) can do, is to lead by example, and treat everyone as a fellow human, regardless of what they look like.
Every death is a tragedy, and every life matters.