The command, “Thou shalt not murder” (Exodus 20:13), applies universally regardless of skin color, ethnicity, sex, nationality, age, religion, etc. There is near universal agreement that the police officers’ actions against George Floyd were excessive and criminal, and they are rightfully jailed and charged with murder. Since at least 1995, the U.S. Department of Justice police guidelines (//bit.ly/2XPMLY1) state that “as soon as the suspect is handcuffed, get him off his stomach” because of the risk of positional asphyxiation. To restrain a violent criminal, the use of a knee on the shoulder blade or back is allowed during handcuffing, but a knee to the neck is never allowed.
However, systemic police brutality toward minorities across America is a myth. In 2015, an analysis of the Philadelphia Police Department by President Barack Obama’s Justice Department found that white police officers were less likely than black or Hispanic officers to shoot unarmed black suspects (//bit.ly/30rZCkW). In 2019, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences again found “no evidence of anti-black or anti-Hispanic disparities across shootings, and white officers are not more likely to shoot minority civilians than nonwhite officers.” (//bit.ly/2Ylb6DU)
That does not mean that there is no racism or brutality to be found in police departments. However, to assume that every instance of police brutality and incompetence directly correlates to the color of the victim’s skin, is to ignore the statistics stated above. Surely, in every group of people there will always exist racists, just as there will exist cheats, liars or bullies. But to automatically assume that racism is the driving force behind all brutality and incompetence is an impossible judgment to make. Sometimes a bully is simply a bully; a hateful man is hateful to all.
A pair of Moscow vandals painted “1312” (“all cops are bastards”) on the beautiful brick of a downtown business. The same people who judge all police officers by the actions of a few would be livid if the person accused of this particular Moscow crime was a Muslim and everyone proceeded to conclude that all Muslims were vandals. Fallacy of composition anyone?
In 1963, Martin Luther King Jr.’s civil rights march had more than 200,000 people peaceably gather at the Lincoln Memorial and the National Mall. In 2020, the “demonstrations” have included desecrating the Lincoln Memorial, the World War II Memorial, and the Korean War Memorial, and attempting to burn down the Church of the Presidents in Lafayette Square.
They pelted police with bottles, bricks, and rocks in more than 40 cities. They looted stores by the hundreds, torched police cars, injured dozens of Secret Service agents, and sacked The Grove in Hollywood, 5th Avenue in New York, Georgetown and 40 other city centers. We have so far strayed from the concept of protesting that we are now in full-blown anarchy in these cities.
Since the death of George Floyd, 15 additional murders have been committed and more than 400 law enforcement officers injured, not by police but by anarchists. None of the riots, vandalism and looting affects the change that Americans are hoping for. The rioters have taken a situation where virtually every American was united against a despicable injustice, and sullied any real change they hoped to affect by plunging the country into chaos. This is no longer about George Floyd but outright anarchy. These riots have killed more innocent black people than the original tragedy that started them. They have lost the moral high ground.
Government has one function to perform – to protect life and liberty. The system failed George Floyd. Then our feckless leaders fueled the flames of hatred by bowing to the mob and allowing rioters to run roughshod over our country.
Racism is being used to rationalize and approve vandalism and violence. But police brutality and looting are not race issues. They are human decency issues. Those defending rioting, however begrudgingly, in the name of racism are part of the problem. Anarchy is not liberation. Democrats need to remember that the 1968 riots were a significant factor in the election of Republican Richard Nixon. Come November, we will know decidedly where Americans stand on these issues, and it will not be on the side of chaos.
Dale Courtney served 20 years in nuclear engineering aboard submarines and 15 years as a graduate school instructor. He now spends his spare time chasing his six grandchildren around the Palouse.