Yesterday at a hastily convened university forum to discuss the violence of the last seventy-two hours, two black male students in their early twenties shared experiences that silenced the room. The first student, a Naples resident, said he was too shaken to leave his room; his voice literally shook as he said, “Is there, like, a psychologist in the room I can talk to?” At the other end of the auditorium another student said he hoped to leave campus by 6:30 p.m. if not earlier for fear of driving in nightfall and getting stopped by cops for a busted tail light; with this dreads and confident swagger, he said he was a perfect candidate for suspicion. Between these students was an administrator who had had The Talk with his nineteen-year-old away in school and had had it again that morning after Dallas. After these men spoke, the administrative platitudes didn’t merely dissolve into mist: their words rebuked our well-intentioned, pained assurances.
Because at the close of the meeting we could offer these young men no assurances.
For the first time, though, yesterday I also read several admissions in conservative media that didn’t for once dovetail with their concern for state encroachment. In their clumsy, mealymouthed way these writers grappled with how to test years of received wisdom. Take, for example, Matt K. Lewis:
In the era of Facebook Live and smart phones, it’s hard to come to any conclusion other than the fact that police brutality toward African-Americans is a pervasive problem that has been going on for generations. Seriously, absent video proof, how many innocent African-Americans have been beaten or killed over the last hundred years by the police—with little or no media coverage or scrutiny?
There’s no telling the damage this has done to us collectively, not to mention the specific families and individuals that were victimized. And, of course, the long-term psychic damage transcends the physical. All sorts of negative externalities can be expected of someone who rightly feels he’s living under an occupying army.
Lewis calls for body cameras on all cops, although he admits, correctly, that body cameras are no “panacea.”
A much-shared essay by Leon H. Wolf at, of all places for God’s sake, Redstate:
huge, overwhelming segment of America does not really give a damn what cops do in the course of maintaining order because they assume (probably correctly) that abuse at the hands of police will never happen to them. As long as the cops keep people away from my door, they have my blessing handling “the thugs” in whatever way they see fit.
I see the attitude all the time even in the comments to the stories I write here at RedState. I’ll post about some story or video where someone did something to break the law and thus found themselves in contact with the police. Fine. During the course of interaction with the police, however, the police drastically escalate the confrontation using what I think any reasonable person should consider to be wildly excessive force in bringing the situation to heel, and someone ends up either seriously injured or dead. Very often, the victim of this escalation is black.
On a day marked by the usual execrable commentary that approrpiated “climate change” and “His Life Matters” for mockery and leaden irony, even goddamn NRO pecked out a couple crumbs of sympathy (as usual I will not link; use Google if you hunger to read the rest):
On the Right, tribalism manifests itself as a failure to admit that the cops can be in the wrong sometimes; that in a big country, “sometimes” can add up to a lot of individual incidents; and that these tend to fall disproportionately on African-Americans. Moreover, in a big country there are a lot of different police forces (big city and small town, mostly-white to mostly black, etc.), and not all of them function the same…If forced to fight, the cops will close ranks because that’s what their training teaches them to do in order to trust each other.
Clumsy and mealymouthed, sure, and for once I say let them be so. Better clumsiness than the twaddle of assurances and healing.
Meanwhile take a look at that robot used to detonate the explosion that killed sniper Micah Johnson. Tell me if it doesn’t frighten me as much as it did me. Use of this machine prevented further loss of life — and brought more hardware from distant battlefields to an American city.