Common decency would have recommended a time of mourning and a time for reflection. After five police officers were murdered in Dallas-- presumably as payback for the deaths of two black men-- people should have tamped down the rhetoric, the protests and the black against white violence.
Would it really have been too difficult for our president not to take potshots at police departments and not to recommend that they be investigated by the federal govenment?
One undestands that Obama was trying to be even-handed. In fact, he was drawing a moral equivalence where there is none.
As for the protests, and the shootings of police officers, the sound and the fury continued. It might even have increased. People are paying lip service to the murdered police officers while doubling down on the Black Lives Matter rhetoric. Some people believe that the nation's race problems-- aggravated over the past seven years-- can only be solved with semi-violent protest-- with threats and intimidation-- so they are mobilizing themselves. Others are sufficiently scared that they insist on having what they consider the morally correct position. In the end it will all solve absolutely nothing.
Do the protests address the problem of the disproportionate number of homicides committed by African-Americans and other minority groups? If you listen to our president you hear him intimate that it's not really a problem: it reflects overzealous policing in black communities. And it reflects overzealous prosecutions. Because, you see, if you do not see it or prosecute it you do not know who did it. One may be permitted a reflection that the epidemic of rape of other crimes in Sweden, Norway, Germany and Austria is not the fault of local citizens. Taking a page from the Obama administration playbook the local authorities have been trying to cover up the problem... by not mentioning the ethnic background of the accused.
A while back New York Times columnist Charles Blow bemoaned the fact that his black son, a student at Yale University had been stoped by a police officer on suspicion of having committed a crime. Blow was outraged by the racial profiling, though one does not understand why he could not have grasped the fact that if the perpetrator was black, it makes very little sense to stop Chinese women.
Everyone knows this; it makes no difference. The will to victimhood is so strong that it drowns all rational considerations. And no one noticed that Blow did not direct any of his rage at the black criminal who had compromised the good reputation of his son.
The same might be said of the protesters who are railing against the police. Presenting yourself as an angry, aggrieved group does not look good on your resume. No one wants to hire a troublemaker. Burning down your neighbor hood does not make anyone want to hire you. It might be unfair, but reputation is never a purely individual phenomenon. It's not just you but anyone who is associated with you who will provoke the same reaction.
The way you present yourself in public influences the way people see you. It produces and sustains your reputation. It produces something of a stereotype. It has nothing to do with the courts and the criminal justice system. No one can ever see anyone just as an isolated individual. It takes too much time to judge each individual individually. We always see people as members of group. If your group does well you feel pride. If your group does poorly you feel shame. It is the groundwork of moral sentiment. If you care about how people see you, act accordingly. Do not pretend that you can gain respect by indulging in violent protest.
It is not about justice. If a police officer is convicted of murder, it will change nothing about the job conditions in the black community. It will not create a single job and will not build one new house. It might convince businesses to locate elsewhere.
So, why protest? It does nothing more than sustain a narrative in which blacks are the eternal victims of white perfidy. Underlying it all is a demand for reparations-- for crimes real and imagined, that took place a very long time ago. The rallies and the protests are demands for hush money. If you don't pay us, we will make it impossible for you to go about your lives. It's all about threats and intimidation ... and a pretense of being strong and empowered.
Supposedly serious thinkers believe that nothing will change in America until blacks receive reparations for slavery and segregation. Black will need to receive a special dole ... otherwise there will be violence in the streets. If you think that that will gain anyone respect, think again.
One might respond that affirmative action programs resemble reparations. If so, many more qualified white and Asian people have agreed to step aside to give black Americans a leg up-- in universities, in jobs, in politics. But, would it not be more dignified to express gratitude for the good will exhibited in these programs, rather than to keep demanding more reparations.
But when black leaders call for reparations they are sending the message that the system is so totally rigged against them that they cannot succeed on their own. Of course, the programs offer opportunity, not results. The call for reparations and the attempt to solve the problem in the courts tells blacks that they can never succeed, and thus that they should not even try. It tells them that there is no point to hard work, to earning what one has. And there is no point to good conduct because whites will always look askance at blacks.
Of course, racism exists in America. But there are degrees of racism. If people have a negative view because people who look like you, and who insist on being identified by their race, have behaved badly, it might be a good idea to behave well, to try to change your reputation by changing your behavior for the better.