Friday, July 8, 2016

A Country in Terrible Need of Healing

Wow. Just a dizzying turn of events. First we had the shooting of Alton Sterling by police in Louisiana. Then the shooting of Philando Castille in Minnesota.

In both cases we had the video that at least meant the need for such deadly force at such close range highly questionable.

There's the old saying: when it rains it pours. On Wednesday the talk was of Sterling's death. But on Thursday there was a new case of Castille.

Now we have a 'sniper' attack in Dallas.

"The suspect who launched an armed attack on police officers at the scene of a Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas told law enforcement officials that he was upset about the recent fatal police shootings of civilians and wanted to kill white cops, according to the police chief."

"Though Mayor Mike Rawlings said at a Friday morning press conference that they would not yet release personal information about the suspect, Dallas Police Chief David Brown shared some remarks the individual made to authorities."

“The suspect said he was upset about Black Lives Matter,” Brown said. “He said he was upset about the recent police shootings. The suspect said he was upset at white people. The suspect stated he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers. The suspect stated he will eventually—that we'll eventually find the IEDs.”

"The individual was killed by a police bomb deployed by a robot after extended negotiations with an official hostage negotiator during which he apparently conveyed his motives and intentions."

“The suspect stated he was not affiliated with any groups, and he stated that he did that alone,” Brown continued. “The suspect said other things that are part of this investigation, so that we can make sure that everyone associated with this tragic event is brought to justice.”

"Brown and Rawlings said that the investigation was ongoing and they could not release more information on the individual or on how many suspects were involved in the shooting, which left five police officers dead, seven wounded, and also injured two civilians."

I have to say, that yesterday I was struck by how big an impact the killing of Castillo and Sterling had on the black folks I encountered.

Obviously these issues always touch the black community, but black folks are individuals as much as whites or anyone else is. In the past with these sorts of shootings, it didn't mean that literally every black person you encounter would be talking about this.

The level of unanimity was rather disquieting.

Many people who don't talk politics or national events too much were talking about this.

At my gym I heard my former thirty something African American trainer in the locker room talking about this with a middle aged African American gentleman. This is not someone who normally talks about stuff like this too often.

'S' -my trainer's initial-talked about being frustrated with white folks who don't get it, don't understand what black folks are going through. The older black gentleman was clearly not wanting to go to far with this sort of talk.

He pointed out that not all white folks are bad. S then said that any white person that does not speak up about this is as bad as the cops that killed these black men.

He did then talk about his own white girlfriend and agree that 'They aren't all bad.'

What was very interesting is that after the killing of her boyfriend, Diamond Reynolds had declared 'All lives matter.'

Charles Pierce had a piece critical of this phrase yesterday.

Why 'All Lives Matter' Is a Dodge

It's the intersection of White Privilege and White Paranoia.​"

But how do you explain the use of it by an African-American woman grieving over the loss of her boyfriend at the hands of a white officer?

In any case, no matter what the killers in Texas thought they were doing, what they did was very counterproductive. It only intensifies the cycle of death and polarization by race and ideology.

Jamil Smith:

"The murderers in Dallas just took the attention off the murderers in Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights. Mission accomplished, motherfuckers."

Thank you. This simply bumps the Castillo and Sterling off the front page. It also gives credence to those who attack Black Lives Matter and protesters as having a political agenda and being anti police, of even deliberately fomenting violence against police. 

Just understand that what happened in Dallas yesterday is going to be used by reactionaries who don't want things to improve. 

So the country remains in this terrible cycle of videos of young black men killed by police, the subsequent outrage, and then an increased polarization. 

Dallas will be used as a weapon against those who are demanding answers and change on police treatment of African-Americans. 

Whatever those killers in Dallas might tell themselves. they did not do this for the victims. Or any kind of righteous outrage. They acted out their own base desires. And they have done a lot of harm. 


  1. Mike, I have to hand it to Caleb Howe (right wing gun nut) at for a pretty good piece on this: asking his fellow right wingers to do some self examination before they fly off the handle (a la Matt Drudge):

  2. Also, how come nobody is asking about the religion of these snipers (more than one?)? Are they Christians? Are they Hindus? Why won't president Obama say "radical Christian terrorists?" Why does he refuse to identify the problem? I'm sure Trump and his supporters have said those words repeatedly by now, right?

    Sorry, it's probably too early for sarcasm, but I'm surprised nobody has brought that up.

  3. Also some criticism for those who are generally sympathetic for the BLM protesters:

    1. During the same time frame as the other two (apparently unjustified) police shootings a white guy was also shot by police on video in Fresno California. As more details have emerged it sounds like a case of "suicide by police" to me, but it's still not clear. If people are worried about trigger happy police you think it might have at least got a mention, don't you think? The video is not nearly as clear as the other two cases. But still, it was curious to me that nobody mentioned that case when speaking about the other two. It's still unclear to me if he was armed or not. Steve Berman (at TheResurgent) wants to make this ONLY about 2nd amendment rights and the tragedy of armed citizens being shot unjustly by police:
    Then he gets on Obama's case for making it racial. I'm not suggesting Berman is right: I predicted that somebody like him would go there (somehow this is Obama's fault, just like always), but at least he's not quite as irresponsible as Drudge. Caleb Howe I think has a much better piece, acknowledging that there may very well be a racial aspect to the other two police shootings.

    2. During Hardball last night (Joy Reid filling in) and in several other interviews I've heard people use the words "cold blooded murder" in regards to these police shootings. I think that's an irresponsible phrase to use at this point in the investigation. I can kind of understand it if used by an upset demonstrator or family member when being interviewed on the street, but I can't understand it when used by Joy or one of her guests in a calm studio environment (honestly, I've forgotten if it was Joy or not at this point, but somebody on the show used that term several times). Why do I think that's so irresponsible? Because that has a very specific meaning: it means the police planned to kill those victims. That has a pretty high burden of proof. Now could it be that the police were less inclined to think that "black lives" or "armed lives" (or "black armed lives") mattered very much? That they were racially biased and extra trigger happy? Sure, it could mean that, but in both those videos it was clear the officers involved were scared or their emotions were running high at least. That's NOT "cold blooded murder" no matter how you slice it. I'm definitely NOT saying the officers are blameless, but to suggest that the emotions we see in the videos were all just an act... that those police PLANNED to murder someone before they even arrived at the scene is ludicrous and irresponsible to be suggesting at this point IMO. It *could* be the case, but that's going to require proof.

    3. Everybody is so interested in making sure the police are punished. I agree they *should* be punished, but for what they did, not for engaging in "cold blooded murder" (if in fact that's not what they did). It seems to me that some of these tragedies are just unavoidable: lots of people + lots of guns + lots of video cameras = lots more of these situations on the news for the foreseeable future. Could better training help? Sure, probably. Could more diverse police departments help? Maybe. It's not clear in these cases, but maybe overall. There may be lots of things that could help. Are some police just plain bad guys who always err on the side of excessive force, especially against minorities? I'm sure there are those guys, but from the videos I've seen it's not clear that's the case here. We don't know the history of the officers involved.


    1. So in summary, I can definitely understand protests and people being upset, but I just wish the talking heads on TV would refrain from using words that suggest the police actively plan to kill somebody when they pull them over for a missing tail light. I think there's definitely a problem, but I'd be surprised if that's the problem. To his credit, Obama never went there. I think even the MN gov was a wee bit careless in this regard. He didn't say "cold blooded murder" but I think it was a little bit premature to suggest that if the victim had been white he's still be alive. That may very well be true, but it made me cringe a bit for the gov to start suggesting that so early in the investigation.

      BTW, for the Minnesota case, I was struck by the level of calmness in the voice of Ms. Reynolds (gf of the victim) as compared to the police officer brandishing the gun (and whom presumably shot her bf). She was WAY more calm than he was.

      It's tragic all around, that's for sure.

    2. "Cold blooded murder" is what the Dallas sniper(s) did. If the police officer in MN was just out to kill for fun (like the sniper) he probably would have shot the rest of the family. If he was targeting that specific guy (like a mob hit), then he did a great acting job after the fact.

      BTW, this is a bit sick, but I have an idea for a clothing line: it says "Smile bitch, you're on camera!" in huge letters. Kind of like wearing a "Yelp!" T-shirt to a restaurant. No matter if it's true or not, it'll make people think before shooting you perhaps.

    3. I understand both sides. The two killings this week were particularly bad, especially the one where the guy was just reaching for his license.

      It's hard not to feel like that cop's panic-you can hear it in the video-was not out of all disproportion to the threat. He'd already shot him-and as it turned out, killed him.

      Obviously no defense for Dallas though a lot of black folks just feel like there is no price to be paid for a cop shooting one of them.

      It's a tough issue on both sides.

      The outrage was understandable. But no one can demand that anyone go to jail without due process, etc.

      What they can ask for is a transparent and effective process. If no cop ever has to pay for this, it heightens the frustration.

    4. I actually didn't know about the Fresno shooting-until you just told me.


  4. Watching a calm, thoughtful Obama discuss these events in comparison with a jackass like this:

    Just makes me all the more determined that Trump (and his shoot from the hip mouth) should NEVER be in the WH.

    1. Yes. This is why Obama's approval rating has gone up this year. People are considering how much better things could be.

      I love your vigilance Sir!

  5. Mike, I wonder what will happen if more and more people start showing up armed to BLM protests:
    Exercising their 2nd amendment rights. Lol... wow, this gets interesting, doesn't it?

    I bet the "Armed Black Lives Matter" movement will undermine the power of the NRA faster than anything.

    Actually, let's rearrange those letter a bit different:

    Black Lives (Armed) Matter or BLAM.

    1. Seriously, can you imagine a representative from BLAM (which doesn't exist yet, I realize) showing up to NRA events, etc? Being very public about it? It's enough to make a Trumpist's head explode, don't you think?

    2. Right. How do you deny them admission?

      But remember in 1968, Ronald Reagan was for gun control-a measure against the Black Panthers.

      So it's about mood affiliation and identity politics

    3. I think enough armed protests by BLAM and former representative Walsh will be waffling a bit a la Reagan and the 1968-NRA on the 2nd amendment.

      Maybe the white nationalists will take over the NRA for being "too PC" and insist that the 2nd amendment only applies to the racially pure.

  6. Erickson's take suffers mightily from false equivalences:

  7. Somebody in the Trump campaign must have kept him away from twitter this time. Probably his children.

    1. Yes. Chris Hayes said he hopes Manafort keeps Trump locked out of his Twitter account all day

    2. Why would anyone hope for that? Lol

  8. LOL.

    Here is a new piece about Trump's Dallas reaction

    Trump campaign official blames Dallas shooting on Hillary Clinton