July 10–The heinous assassination of five Dallas police officers and the wounding of seven others leaves America in a quandary. It is one of rhetoric vs. reality that has spawned a climate of fictions overtaking facts.
Heather Mac Donald, a Manhattan Institute fellow and contributing editor to City Journal, notes in her new book, “The War on Cops,” that mythmakers have turned into an article of faith that “the police pose a mortal threat to black Americans — indeed, that the police are the greatest threat facing black Americans today.” (And a full tip of the hat at the outset for National Review’s Andrew McCarthy first highlighting Ms. Mac Donald’s work early Friday.)
Ancillary to the “mortal threat” contention is that the criminal justice system is biased against blacks, that a “black underclass” does not exist and that “racism” — not disproportionate crime rates between whites and blacks that lead to proportional police action in minority neighborhoods — leads to disproportional police action, Mac Donald argues.
Worse, “The highest reaches of American society” promulgate such untruths “and participated in the mass hysteria,” she writes.
Mac Donald cited President Barack Obama’s declaration — in the aftermath of a grand jury declining to indict the police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown –that, in Mac Donald’s words, “blacks were right to believe that the criminal justice system was often stacked against them.”
Then-Attorney General Eric Holder worked to perpetuate the myth, she writes, as did those in academia. Mr. Holder “escalated a long-running theme of his tenure … that the police routinely engaged in racial profiling and needed federal intervention to police properly.”
Mac Donald also indicts the presidents of Harvard and Smith for fanning the flames of the myths and reminds how The New York Times, in an editorial, attempted to justify riots in Ferguson, Mo., because, quoting the editorial, “the killing of young black men by police is a common feature of African-American life.”
While that might make a compelling narrative for “progressives” and for groups such as Black Lives Matter, it’s patently false, Mac Donald points out.
“In reality … police killings of blacks are an extremely rare feature of black life and a minute fraction of black homicide deaths. Blacks are killed by police at a lower rate than their threat to officers would predict,” she writes.
“To cite more data on this point: in 2013, blacks made up 42 percent of all cop-killers whose race was known, even though blacks are only about 13 percent of the nation’s population. Little over a quarter of all homicides by police involve black victims.”
Yet police, in rising numbers, have become targets of anti-police and epithet-filled marches calling for violence against them and, again, with little in the way of any kind of reality-check by “progressives” in positions of authority.
Mac Donald’s bottom line: “It is profoundly irresponsible to stoke hatred of the police, especially when the fuel used for doing so is a set of lies.”
This is a damning indictment of America’s aggrieved society in which somebody else, anybody else and everybody else is responsible for one’s misfortunes and/or misdeeds. Nobody dismisses the fact that there are rogue cops. Nobody dismisses that fact that there is racism in America. But America cannot begin to address these challenges honestly — that long sought and long elusive “honest discussion about race” — until everyone admits that facts matter as much as lives.
Colin McNickle is the Tribune-Review’s director of editorial pages.
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