Commodore – A Novel

A novel portraying the extraordinary life of Cornelius Vanderbilt

The Media Must Accept Part of the Responsibility for Dallas

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From the very beginning of the narrative that the police have been shooting innocent black men the media has played up the racism of white policeman. Starting with Ferguson, a shooting that the Grand Jury took the unusual step of making their deliberations public, then followed by Obama’s Justice Department which independently went over the evidence. There was no question that the policeman involved was legitimately defending himself. There was gunpowder on Michael Brown’s hands from trying to grab the officer’s gun.The angle of the bullet entries showed he did not have his hands up. He was charging the officer. These facts were available to any reporter who did a minimum of research. Yet Ferguson is cited again and again by the media as an example of the police targeting innocent black men. There is also the question of whether Michael Brown was the kind of teenager (unarmed, loved by his family) that is his public persona.  Here is a video of Michael Brown beating up an old black man. Here is a video of him stealing from a convenience store and bullying the clerk.  This happened shortly before Officer Wilson confronted him

Following Ferguson, Philadelphia’s police chief asked the Justice Department to study the problem there.  In Philadelphia there are six times the number of shootings by the police as in NYC.   The Justice Department studied  the pattern of OIS (officer involved shootings) when the suspect turned out to be unarmed (a great many of those shot were suspected of having arms).  Sure enough 80% of those shot owing to  “a misinterpreted threat perception” were black and their average age was 20. However the threat perception failure rate for white policemen was 6.8% with black suspects.  For black policemen it was  11.4% and for hispanic policemen it was 16.8%.  So apparently fear of the black suspects and acting on that fear was least among white policemen.  One other statistic is worth noting.  In keeping with the belief that having to patrol  dangerous places is the main factor behind  OIS, a map of Philadelphia was made which clearly shows that OIS, by far, most commonly occurred where there is the highest amount of crime and homicides, particularly districts 22 and 25. In black middle class neighborhoods no one was shot.

 

So what does this mean? It would be terrible to blame innocent victims of police shootings because of the violence in their neighborhoods. Nevertheless, if we are trying to figure out what is going on we can’t ignore the facts. Undoubtedly some policemen have a racist side to their reactions, but much of the problem is the environment of violence that the police (white, black and Latino) have to cope with. Currently In Chicago someone is shot every 2 minutes, killed every 13 minutes, almost exclusively black on black crime.

 

My uncle who worked in the garment district all his life was assigned guard duty during World War II. In England! He confessed that every time he heard a sound he started shooting his machine gun. He was terrified. The statistics in Philadelphia show that black policemen reacted with fear far more often than white policeman. This is not surprising. Even more than white policemen they know very well that they are operating in a dangerous environment. So do many non criminal black men, who carry a gun not to be macho, or because they are paranoid, but because they might need it. There were 11,000 blacks killed by other blacks (8,300 according to Fact Checker) between Trevor Martin’s death and the verdict in George Zimmerman trial (approximately 500 days).

 

So why don’t most people know these facts. Why does it only appear in right wing publications. Certainly, it would go a long way to cool the anger at policemen.   There are two possibilities. The media likes to stir up emotional issues, to heighten passions. That attracts viewers. There is far more entertainment value in dramatic stories than complicated ones.

 

We also must consider political correctness. They risk being labeled racist if they deny white shortcomings. But what about black moderates? Where was Mayor Dinkins or Governor Patterson, or for that matter Oprah to set the record straight about what happened in Ferguson. Attorney General Holder acknowledged that the white policeman in Ferguson was totally innocent, but he combined the announcement of this fact with a blistering criticism of the systemic racism in the Ferguson police department.

 

And what about our president?  Even after two New York City policemen were executed by a man furious with what he had been told happened in Ferguson, Obama held back from cooling things down.  He was against shooting policemen he said and he was also against the rioting that followed the grand jury’s announcement of their findings. But this man, who considers himself to be the president of all the people, could not bring himself to proclaim Officer Wilson’s innocence.  He did not mention that Officer Wilson had never used his gun before. The best he could do is this.   During a town hall-style meeting at Benedict College, a historically black school he said to the crowd:

“Officer Wilson, like anybody else who is charged with a crime, benefits from due process and reasonable-doubt standards…  And if there is uncertainty about what happened, then we can’t just charge him anyway because what happened was a tragedy.”

The recent killing of a black man in Charlotte and subsequent rioting was absurd.  The policeman was black and the chief of police in Charlotte was black.  Again and again opportunities arise to set the record straight but the opportunity is ignored.  Too much of the media coverage did not mention the race of the policeman and chose to add it to the narrative of  black men getting shot for no reason by our ugly society.  I don’t mean platitudes about there are good cops, and their work is difficult, and we must respect the law.  I mean having the courage to slam the exaggerations of the Black Lives Matter movement,  sorting out truth from fiction. It is not an impossible task for fair minded people to intervene.  Again, where is our president?

I assume politicians and celebrities must steer clear of having a perspective that exonerates white society. They’d be labeled Uncle Toms. But this would not be true if we had accurate media reports that contradicted the extremes of the Black Lives Matter agenda. Indeed more and more celebrities (most recently Serena Williams) are speaking out about how violent  we are.  I would be speaking out myself if I took what I the media is presenting at face value, but they are intentionally presenting a distorted picture and should be taking the heat for that.

 

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