Even as a sixties Vietnam War demonstrator, it struck me that the enmity against police was weirdly misplaced. When I heard the cries of “Off the pigs!” I felt more than mildly uncomfortable.
After all, weren’t the police mere factotums? They had no power at all over the real policies under protest. More than that, they were genuine working people, members of the vaunted working class. What did they do?
Now, “politically mature,” as they say, I feel that even more. The focus on police as the problem is just crazy. Of course, there are bad cops — just as there are bad everything else, as there always will be until we are replaced by robots, when there will be other problems — but the cops are not the issue of what is wrong in American society, not remotely. Whatever their failings — and they should be dealt with — they are miles away from the heart of the problem.
Actually, cops are nothing more than a focus for all kinds of displacement and projection. The more the police are the issue, the longer those real problems will not be addressed. The horrifying violence in our African American communities, almost all of which is directed toward other African Americans, will continue until those issues are confronted, no matter what the police do, even if they become a national corps of secular saints.
The truth that the hugely sad steady decline of the black family is the root of all could not be more obvious. Equally obvious, media and leaders taking the spotlight off this fatherless world and moving it to the police is socially destructive and morally reprehensible. The spate of despicable cop killings we have been seeing is the almost too natural result. (Heather Mac Donald has written of this brilliantly in her The War on Cops.)
The police are the ones who have the right to be angry. This was visible writ large on CNN Sunday night when Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke — usually a Fox guest — appeared on Don Lemon’s show. Both men are African American. After the murders in Baton Rouge, Clarke had lost patience with the equivocation of media figures like Lemon on such things as Black Lives Matter and kept peppering him with questions on whether the CNN host supported the group. Lemon, clearly taken aback, claimed he merely reported on Black Lives Matter and was not a supporter, but it seemed to me, at some level, the host understood and was troubled by Clarke’s point — that his style of “reporting” was tantamount to support. Lemon was part of the problem, not the solution.
But we are where we are. We will now have the requisite calls for dialogue that have been the hallmark of the current administration since Eric Holder was appointed attorney general and proposed a national discussion on race just when the racial situation had improved. In some way, this seems deliberate, the “nostalgia for racism” I describe in my book. Holder (and Obama) needed racism to rule. Consciously or unconsciously, they wanted to bring it back. They succeeded. And the cops have paid the price.
Roger L. Simon is a prize-winning novelist, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and co-founder of PJ Media. His book—I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already—is just published by Encounter. You can read an excerpt here. You can see a brief interview about the book with the Wall Street Journal’s Opinion Journal here. You can hear an interview about the book with Mark Levin here. You can order the book here.