It’s sometimes hard to tell whether they don’t understand the effects of their overheated rhetoric; whether they understand but don’t care; or whether they are deliberately inflaming tensions and petty hatreds.
Some examples are easy to spot. Louis Farrakhan, for example, is the third category. He is intentionally race-baiting. He sees the murder of white people as a noble goal, and he has publicly appealed to his audience for the murder of 10,000 whites. (Is “Nation of Islam” tax-exempt? If so, why?)
Farrakhan WANTS a race war. He is deliberately trying to inflame one. He is not personally taking to the streets. He is encouraging others to do it for him, and you can hear his audience actually cheer when he makes his militant statements.
He understands how words touching the right emotional trigger can get crowds to embrace his ideas. Rhetoric. Persuasive words. Provocation.
I would hope the rest of us have better motives than he does. Most probably do. But people who should know better are still lobbing rhetorical bombs into the culture without any apparent concern for the collateral damage they might have. Last week’s events give an example of this.
It was the day after the Dallas Ambush. We had heard examples of cops shielding civilians from gunfire with their own bodies. (These were the same civilians that had just finished a non-violent march in solidarity with two black men killed by law enforcement earlier that week.)
We also heard of a young black man who — legally carrying his firearm during the march — immediately handed his over to police. Not because he HAD to, but because in this situation with frayed nerves and mass panic, the decision made sense. That simple act was commendable in that it showed real trust of the Dallas police.
Contrast that to the overheated rhetoric I heard while channel-surfing between coverage. AC360 panelist Angela Rye was in an exchange. She was a former staffer for the Congressional Black Caucus. Listen to her “informed” and “nuanced” comments on current events. After prefacing that she was NOT anti-police, she claimed that “rogue cops” “shoot black people for sport”.
Jeff Roorda (Democrat), the St. Louis Police Union spokesman, gave her statement the scorn it deserved. Police are not “mounting heads on the wall”. Words have meaning. Jeff didn’t let her get away with it.
Rye doubled down. After Jeff called her statements “the most offensive thing I’ve ever heard on this network”, even the host – Don Lemon – tried to reign in her statements, asking if she thought it was inflammatory. She said no and went on another rant.
She claims that she is not giving moral justification to people like Farrakhan and the guy who murdered five Dallas police officers. This is false. She is one of many laying out an argument for the police being an illegitimate authority. Worse than that, they claim police are perpetrating abuses on the public.
Does any of that sound familiar? It should. The Declaration of Independence was such an argument. It laid out English rule as illegitimate. War with England necessarily followed.
We have national leaders taking this further. Obama stood before the world announcing the “systemic” racism inherent in US law enforcement. Minnesota Governor said police are motivated by racism.
I’d like to see the trial where a jury of their peers has determined that. Or are police denied the presumption of innocence?
Is there a case to be made — and a discussion to be had — about police interaction with minorities being statistically more aggressive than equivalent interactions with white suspects? Sure. But a new study blows the “white cops on murderous rampage” narrative all to Hell.
So where do we stand right now? We have a race-based movement on record calling for dead cops “now!” in their marches. But the cops “murdering blacks” line energizing the movement is demonstrably false.
We also have a sharp uptick in the murder of police officers.
And we have people — politicians, activists, and media — effectively yelling “Fire” in a theatre. Words have consequences.