Shots fired in Dallas; a time of reflection for us all
Sometimes, things happen for which there are no simple answers or no quick hits. Sometimes, pithy doesn’t cut it. Sometimes, things happen that absolutely defy being contained to 140 characters of snark.
What happened in Dallas Thursday night is one of those things. Its horror shocks; its senselessness numbs; its enormity overwhelms.
Once again, shots echoed through Big D, not far from historic Dealey Plaza. Once again, a gunman, or possibly gunmen, crazed with an epic, self-justifying sense of rage-fueled vengeance, opened fire on the objects of his hate: husbands, fathers, a daughter, a newlywed, veterans, brothers, sisters, neighbors, Cowboys fans, breadwinners.
Or, as he reportedly called them, “white people,” and “white officers.”
Remember a couple of summers ago, when police responded to rioting in Ferguson, Mo., with hand-me-down military equipment? Then, some of our betters decried the display of storm-trooper force as essential to the problem.
Well. Who wants to be an accountable government official the next time demonstrators hit the streets — whether they’re from Black Lives Matter, the Sons of Liberty or the Betty Crocker Bake-Off — and their cops aren’t wrapped in state-of-the-art defensive gear?
Fool me once, right?
This is in no way to suggest that the killer(s) in Dallas coordinated with the organizers of the BLM rally. We will take the dead shooter at his word that he was acting apart from any group. The event was hijacked by them. But what about the next time?
The first one was opportunistic happenstance. The next time it happens, God forbid, it’s a conspiracy.
While condemning his — and his apparent accomplices’ — actions, let’s not for a moment dismiss Johnson’s fury or frustration. We live in an era in which universal instant media focuses attention on life’s horrors like an electron microscope — although, alas, without the precision — and his media feeds no doubt have been flooded by reports of two more deaths of black men at the hands of white police.
And this man with an otherwise spotless record, who wore the nation’s uniform and built things on America’s behalf in Afghanistan, and who was lately working as an aide to mentally challenged children and adults, had, in his tunnel vision, seen enough.
Never mind what we don’t yet know about those shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota, and that at a similar point in the aftermath of the incidents in Ferguson and Baltimore, we believed as gospel things about police that absolutely did not hold up.
Of course, President Obama has not been helpful. Addressing the shootings that tipped Johnson over the brink from a solemn set in Poland, Obama assumed, as usual, facts not in evidence. Returning to lament the blue massacre in Dallas, he said properly sober things about police having the right to come home after their shifts, then pivoted, irresistibly, to gun control.
We never will get anywhere like this. And we must. We cannot continue to careen from disaster to disaster, where faith that justice will prevail for each individual is sacrificed to cold-blooded tribal get-evenism.
So, just as we cannot dismiss Johnson’s outrage, it is necessary to point out that it was surely misplaced.
Law-enforcement expert Heather MacDonald has just published the essential book on the subject, The War on Cops. In it, she makes plain a disturbing fact pattern of twisting events and statistics — reality, really — by the “highest reaches of American society promulgat[ing] those untruths and participat[ing] in the mass hysteria.”
President Obama skewered the grand jury that failed to indict the Ferguson police officer who shot to death Michael Brown, spreading unrest by agreeing with black Americans who think the criminal justice system is out to get them. Then-Attorney General Eric Holder unleashed the Justice Department on Ferguson, claiming federal intervention was increasingly necessary at the municipal level to prevent racial profiling by local authorities.
As MacDonald points out, university presidents and Big Media piled on, fanning the hysteria about cops going gunning for innocent black victims, all the while overlooking an inconvenient fact:
“In reality, however, 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. 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. “
The indispensable Andrew McCarthy added this Friday morning at National Review Online:
“Did Black Lives Matter participate in this pre-planned mass-murder operation? … [W]e must wait for details, which should be forthcoming soon enough. But to suggest that lethal attacks on the police are not made more likely by the hateful anti-cop climate stoked by Black Lives Matter — with the indulgence and often the encouragement of government officials and opinion elites — is to be detached from reality.”
We have to pause, to breathe, to reach out, to embrace. The photograph of a Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer is a good place to begin: [https://twitter.com/dallasnewsphoto/status/751258609380564992] gigantic black man in a dark blue uniform, embracing small copper-haired woman, weeping for his fallen colleague, whose skin color means not a whit to him.
So should it be for all of us.