Another police officer has been gunned down, another black man the suspect. No matter what the provocation, any violence is utterly unjustifiable.
This killing is immediately being linked to the Black Lives Matter movement, as have other killings of police officers by black men, and is being used to shame and denounce the movement for criticizing police for their actions. Certainly, were the rhetoric of the representatives of Black Lives Matter to rise to the level where they incited violence, that would be objectionable; however, they have been quite careful not to, including using the slogan, “Unite, Not Incite.” That hasn’t stopped the connections from being made, and from various voices among conservatives denouncing Black Lives Matter, calling them “race hustlers,” and accusing them of inciting a “race war.”
Even the sheriff who lost a deputy yesterday said, “when the rhetoric ramps up to the point where calculated, coldblooded assassinations of police officers happen, this rhetoric has gotten out of control.”
You hear about this quite a bit, but you rarely hear anyone point out any actual rhetoric which incites to violence. When such is found, it is usually someone from left field, some unknown person who was cited only because they said something outrageous. The national rhetoric, however, has been clearly against violence, not for it. They condemn acts of violence against police and instigate for less, not more killing. What are they supposed to do—stop protesting the widespread killing of people in their community? Stop pointing out the injustice?
I would like you to reflect for a moment, however, on what would happen if one of the leaders of Black Lives Matter were to react to these killings by saying:
“We will look at an unaccountable, arrogant, out-of-control police force showing contempt for the law, and we know that the time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior.”
And perhaps it would be followed up by NAACP president Cornell William Brooks announcing:
“There may be some connection where police are killing unarmed black men, yet are unaccountable to the public, and it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in violence. No one, including those police officers, including the sheriffs and police chiefs nationwide, should be surprised if one of us stands up and objects.”
I would think that there would be massive outrage and indignation against these people and the entire movement. We would probably never hear the end of it.
Of course, neither the BLM movement nor Brooks said any such thing, nor would they.
The thing is, I didn’t make those quotes up out of thin air. I minimally rephrased two people who did say those things. However, they weren’t black leaders—they were conservative leaders. They were, respectively, then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Republican Senator John Cornyn, back in 2005. They were not talking about police officers killing unarmed black men, they were talking about judges making decisions they did not like. DeLay was reacting to the Terry Schiavo case, and Cornyn was reacting to the Supreme Court overturning a death penalty in Missouri.
DeLay got into some trouble for his remarks, Cornyn much less. The point, however, is that the tragic killing of the deputy in Texas was not due to the Black Lives Movement, nor did their rhetoric make it happen. Conservative rhetoric often flares to the level of incitement, usually over fictional things like Death Panels and Jade Helm (remember when the right-wing nuts fired on U.S. troops?), and when that happens, they feel fully justified and indignant when the fact is noted—recall Sarah Palin’s outrage when her use of gun crosshairs on liberal politicians was called out.
It is hypocrisy of the highest order when the right-wing media, which makes a daily practice of inciting their base into a frenzy, and mostly over imaginary or vastly exaggerated things, to denounce the Black Lives Matter for “inciting a race war” when they specifically denounce violence of any kind.
When an African American movement protests the regular slaughtering of hundreds of unarmed black people each year, and does so whilst carefully warning against violence, this is called “out of control.”
Despite the sporadic and horrible random acts of violence we are seeing, the movement to stop violence is not the one that should be denounced.