Dallas PD was posting pictures of peaceful protests before shooting started: https://t.co/VGNrmU2spJ pic.twitter.com/MuKzCzy4vW— Slate (@Slate) July 8, 2016
The terroristic assault that Micah Johnson waged was everything wrong with terrorism--it didn't just end lives and create fear and tragedy, but it stepped right on over the positive action that was going on by Black Lives Matter demonstrators in Dallas with the police right there. Because the police department in Dallas is one of the really good ones--the kind of answerable institution that responds to its community. If this troubled young man had any issues with police forces run by white supremacy, he had surely picked the wrong one. In addition, his long-gun rampage could have been even more tragic if people had panicked, or didn't help one another, or didn't really have a commitment to non-violence, and took this act of raining down bullets as the go sign to set of the stupid "race war" that mostly white supremacist asshats periodically want to trigger.
But the defining truth behind law enforcement, when it's done right, and civil protest against bad government, when it is done right--is that we are just people. Just human creatures trying to get though our lives. BLM isn't anti-police any more than the actual existence of law enforcement should in any way denote anti-blackness. There are integrated police forces. There are places where police brutality and bias are addressed. The question isn't about whether police lives matter--but whether policing itself takes seriously the concept that all lives matter, and lives up to it. Otherwise, all lives do matter--but we have to take special consideration of lives that have been made circumstantially more vulnerable.
Denying that there are inconsistencies in our justice system seems like a dogged denial of racism in the face of the facts. When we excuse any pattern of abuse from the "defensive" stand against an empty hand or the necessity of a stop for an unbroken tail light, we shift the authority of policing from the authority of a just, lawful, democratic society, to the brutality of law by force and through force and with force alone. And how the hell is that good for the officers who have to face the trouble and woe of their communities day after day--wouldn't it be better to be backed by the law and good will? Have good relations with the public? Be respected because your badge is?
It would be, and sometimes is even is. But then something like this tragedy happens--the City of Dallas did pretty well (although I have some issues with death by exploding bot for the perpetrator, who for reasons of justice, I might have preferred face trial) but what does this do for the actual message that BLM protests have actually meant--that the cause is against police slayings without answer, the loss of too many black lives under terrifying circumstances.
In response to this event, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaking before a conference of the AME in Philadelphia articulated a compassionate speech addressing the concerns of the black community and law enforcement. Even GOP candidate Donald Trump was able to produce a measured and reasonable response. Even Newt Gingrich managed to say something pretty empathetic and real.
But this really brought out the worst in some of the haters. Of course President Obama got blamed for letting Black people think they actually do matter, and Hillary Clinton was blamed for perpetuating that. Former IL Congressman Joe Walsh gave a virtual workshop on "How to Be Rascist". Iowa Idiot Steve King traced the rot in US society between the races not to the Middle Passage or slavery or segregation or any of that, but to a black president weighing in on the nonsense that was a police officer having a problem with a man being in his own home. (Like, say sorry and let the guy be under his own roof, right?)
The people who blame Obama for the uptick in awareness that Black Lives are being spilled out all over the US seem to be missing the timeline--he was elected in 2008, but the Apple iPhone was introduced in 2007, giving the ability to film from one's own camera and upload to social media suddenly accessible on a popular medium. The social media app Twitter is circa 2006. Facebook-2004. I am old enough to remember why the Rodney King story became what it was- the video of Rodney King's beating. We were once so bereft of visual proof of these things that many people could live in their denial comfortably. But it isn't that way anymore.
Imagine the impact of seeing over and over again these horrifying incidents. Imagine what it feels like (if you are non-black) when you identify that this could be yourself, or your loved ones. Imagine the cumulative effect when these shocks of grief come one upon the other, a new name to mourn before one has begun to process the last. If someone thinks that anyone needs political rhetoric to be deeply upset with this--what the hell is wrong with that person? Is that person a stone?
What the murderer in Dallas did not understand (and never will, his life being terminated by a robot with an explosive) was that there is collective responsibility to make things better, but not collective blame for other tragedies--the blood of those officers he targeted, doing the good job of protecting and serving people exercising their First Amendment rights, was shed for no reason at all. Their blood deepened the resolve of people who despise the movement to continue hating for the same tendency to collectively blame--they don't lay this solely at the feet of Micah Johnson, but at antiracism. It was as utterly wrong as an act can be, and of course, must be denounced.
But the frame that expects a grieving mother to denounce it from the very first question in a CNN interview? The frame that puts Rudolph Giuliani in front of a camera to talk about policing and community relations? Tells me some people do not separate the ideas in their minds at all. Being against black deaths at the hands of law enforcement does not translate to being for police deaths. Antiracism is not de facto anti-whiteness--unless you define whiteness as racism.
And, some people do.