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Breaking the System

For three days in May, helicopters circled above our Twin Cities neighborhood. Spring breezes carried a whiff of smoke. Our son’s First Communion Mass was canceled, because shops were being burned and looted literally right around the corner. Walking with our kids in the evening, we explained that our daily outings would have to be cut short so that we could be home in time for curfew. As Covid kids, they took this pretty well. State-decreed curfews are only a slight variation on their normal.

Adults should know better, but it seems many don’t. In the days that followed, our neighborhood filled with yard signs reading “Black Lives Matter.” I pass by them on my morning run, and note them along the shoreline when I paddle my kayak around our local lake. Happily, our neighbors haven’t gone the way of nearby Powderhorn Park, where residents have collectively agreed to surrender the neighborhood to drug dealers and muggers, refusing to call the police under any circumstances. Those sympathies are clearly widespread though, which is fairly remarkable given that these same activist groups were recently torching our cafes and gas stations. Ordinarily, the human drive to defend home and family is one of our most elemental. How did the activists disarm it?

To be clear, I am not entirely without sympathy for groups like Black Lives Matter. A few years ago, I did an extended research project on criminal justice reform, and concluded that Americans should indeed be concerned about police misconduct. At the time, I was particularly eager to understand why the United States has so many fatal police encounters, in comparison to most other Western nations. As the Washington Post tirelessly reminds us, American police officers kill about a thousand civilians each year. In England and Wales that number is generally around five. Last year Sweden became alarmed about the “unprecedented increase” in fatal police encounters. They had six.

I spent some months reading, and also talking to people: policy experts, politicians, policemen, public defenders, parole officers, re-entry workers, former offenders, prosecutors. I ultimately concluded that there were five primary reasons why American cops kill so frequently. First, Americans own a lot of guns. Policing is much riskier when the general population is so heavily armed. Second, the breakdown of family and community makes everything harder. Violence and mental illness are lamentably common in our chaotic world, and the police are not really wrong to see themselves as the “thin blue line” that prevents that chaos from overwhelming civilized society. Third, the War on Drugs professionalized and militarized American law enforcement to a significant degree. They acquired more military-grade equipment, and learned SWAT tactics instead of focusing on community policing and training in de-escalation of tense encounters. Fourth, domestic terrorist threats have increased significantly over the past decade, which places a similar sort of pressure on police to serve as domestic soldiers.

The fifth and final reason is the most complicated. Some communities in America clearly have a long history of fractious relationships with the police. The reasons vary, and each region has its own story; in Ferguson, Missouri, for instance, the city was squeezing poor residents with piles of heavy fines, mainly in an effort to raise revenue. Racial injustice is clearly a major part of this story, however. It’s worth noting that race riots have most commonly occurred in predominantly black neighborhoods in the west and north, most of which formed during the Great Migration. As Jill Leovy has explained in her gripping book, Ghettoside, black neighborhoods in American cities were neglected and under-policed for many years. In the absence of real order, young men created their own forms of tribal justice, and opportunistic criminal groups established a presence. Eventually the War on Drugs brought the police back in significant numbers, but their mandate had little to do with improving life for the locals. Remember Daryl Gates, the L.A. Police Chief who told a Senate committee that casual drug users ought to be “taken out and shot,” just two years before his city exploded in the Rodney King riots? At the time, Gates was widely regarded as an exemplary officer. He had fully internalized his mandate to protect the nation by striking fear into its most unruly citizens and neighborhoods.

Today, in some parts of America, the mutual mistrust between police and residents has become deeply entrenched. When people feel threatened by cops, they understandably aren’t inclined to cooperate with them, or address them with courtesy. That makes it tough for even the best-intentioned officers to solve crimes or restore order. Everyone involved deserves a good measure of sympathy here. Nobody alive started this problem; it is rooted in old, ancestral sins.

Activists like to talk about “systemic racism.” It’s often unclear what this means, but if the term simply refers to that diffuse, but very real, causal connection between historical injustice and contemporary social problems, then criminal justice in America absolutely is “systemically racist.” History has long arms. No conservative should have difficulty grasping this point.

How does the Powderhorn Park approach help, though? It doesn’t address any of the problems listed above. It has no data-supported rationale, no end game, and no foreseeable long-term benefit for anyone not involved in organized crime. Even the tent-complex dwellers must surely see this as a temporary arrangement. Will they still want to live there in a normal Minnesota January?

Viewed as a pathological response to recent events, however, Powderhorn Park becomes readily understandable. The leftist residents of this neighborhood insist that we must have an organized, systemic response to racism. Unfortunately, they also believe that the existing system is irredeemable. These two premises neatly foreclose any sane or practical response to police misbehavior; only revolution will do.

If a person truly believes this, he will eventually come to realize that the only adequate solution is cultural suicide.

Admittedly, Powderhorn Park progressives are the most plebeian and milquetoast of anarchists, bearing little resemblance to Bolshevik Revolutionaries or the Khmer Rouge. This is the nihilism of aging hippies and kombucha-drinking yoga moms, which is far less fearsome than many other forms that have emerged across the past two centuries. Still, on a purely ideological level, there is a recognizable resemblance. Having recognized (correctly) that our society is shaped in deep ways by historical injustice, these citizens have decided that the causal connections must simply be cut, totally and completely, this very day. No gradual or remedial solution is adequate. Every other principle of justice shall be sacrificed, if necessary, to achieve this single end. There is no space for compromise or common sense.

If a person truly believes this, he will eventually come to realize that the only adequate solution is cultural suicide. He is like the man who decides that he absolutely must escape from the scars of childhood trauma, no matter what it takes. There is only one effective solution to this type of problem. Mark Antony and Cleopatra found it, as did Earnest Hemingway.

Americans today are highly excitable. As a resident of the Twin Cities, I am hopeful that “police defunding” will turn out to be a passing political phase, like so many that have flown by us in recent years. Ideally, the insanity of “defunding” would give way to more reasonable and prudent efforts at police reform. Instead of blessing muggers, perhaps we could focus on curbing union abuses, and raising standards of accountability for officers with a history of abuse. Black lives do indeed matter, and predominantly black neighborhoods in America haven’t always received the care and attention they deserve. We should correct that. It is our duty, both as humans and as patriotic citizens. At the same time, we need to understand that we live in a fallen world. Complex cultural problems can’t be fixed overnight. They can’t be fixed at all, unless we can summon the courage and maturity that we need to live with the history, cultural heritage, and legal traditions that our forbears have bequeathed to us. Don’t condone racism. When criminals start taking over your neighborhood, though, you should call the police.

Reader Discussion

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on June 30, 2020 at 09:39:03 am

Oh, I am so disappointed!

And to think, only last week I was on the verge of becoming a fan of Ms. Lu.

Invoking the very long memory of history and the deeds of long-dead people as grounds for feigning tears of sympathy and words of understanding for the ongoing, violent anarchy of organized, Black racist rioters and the smug group apologetics and psychological masturbation of the organized Black racist rioters' useful White racist idiots is bad "moral philosophy" in a war of racialist-fueled thuggery against law, sanity and decency.

"Black Lives Matter," the organized, wealthy, not-for-profit (HaHa!,) racist, anti-American, revolutionary, ideological entity that now fronts for and serves as a weapon of America's historically and systemically-racist Democrat Party, not "black lives matter," the near-universal moral sentiment in our now near-universally non-racialist America, should more properly have as its corporate name, ''Only Some Black Lives Matter."

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paladin
on June 30, 2020 at 10:20:05 am

We can believe that black lives matter without supporting Black Lives Matter. I don't think that anyone with friends who are black hasn't heard about problems they have with the police because they resemble people who the police are watching for, too often black. If it happened to you, you wouldn't be so blithe about it.

Most of the rioters on the streets are not black, but young white people, children of privilege for the most part. That's a complex mess of its own.

I'm not disappointed at all. Bravo, Rachel Lu!

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Kate Pitrone
on June 30, 2020 at 13:35:04 pm

One does not have to be Black to know and appreciate unwarranted police abuse. I am Caucasian and suffered severe police abuse that disrupted my life for 6 months, cost me thousands of dollars, traumatized my children and caused me enormous emotional stress.

In response I did not riot, incite others to riot, topple statues, destroy public and private property or wage a campaign to defund the police.

What does race have to do with the abuse of the rule of law by dishonest officers of the law? The data completely refutes your assertion that police abuse is primarily or even significantly the consequence of racism against Blacks.

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paladin
on June 30, 2020 at 22:45:59 pm

That must have been horrible.

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Kate Pitrone
on July 01, 2020 at 20:35:11 pm

As a bibliophile who has never read a book and left it unmarked, I find it painful to disagree with a person so smart as to say, "One of the shocking things that I say to my students is that they should write in their books."
But perhaps we do not disagree.

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paladin
on June 30, 2020 at 12:37:40 pm

Yu takes the BLM too seriously as if it is really some philosophical movement from the ground up when it is nothing but funded by unions and democrat party to create havoc to oust an incumbent president. Sociologically, there is no systemic racism. Everywhere you look there are programs, scholarships, mentoring programs, grants to aid anyone disadvantaged to go to school and laws to squelch any institutional discrimination. So the Left had to invent the concept of micro-aggression. My neighbor recently told me a story. She greeted two ladies out walking in front of her home and wished them a good day. Then she got in her car and drove up to a promontory so that she could send a wireless signal to close her garage door. The door does not close for some reason when the remote signaling device is nearby. So the next day a note was put in her mailbox by the two ladies she greeted who happened to be black accusing her of racism of waiting to surveil them and make sure they left the neighborhood. They explained in their note they were very educated elites and would not tolerate white racism. What white racism? It was all in the eye of the beholder. No one was surveilling them. But this is the new world of non-systemic racism that exists in the minds of highly educated people whether black or white. It is brainwashing and elite entitlement masquerading as virtue signaling.

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Wayne Lusvardi
on June 30, 2020 at 12:22:18 pm

"Having recognized (correctly) that our society is shaped in deep ways by historical injustice,..."

BALDERDASH! How is that for *historical*. A more apt descriptor would be "hysterical" as Ms Lu's modifier "correctly" presupposes that these same mindless sheep actually know and understand history rather than simply responding to the fashionably expected Pavlovian response mechanism - moral outrage, social preening and a futile attempt to place oneself on the side of the (now knowledgeable) angels.

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gabe
on June 30, 2020 at 23:56:25 pm

I appreciate Ms. Lu's writing, although I will acknowledge that this is not a very good effort. I would not guess from reading it that she is a moral philosopher. I can also understand how her piece might irritate those who are not willing to concede points of principle, merely because those concessions are demanded from a premise of popular sentiment.

To take only the two most obvious examples, Ms. Lu states:

Activists like to talk about “systemic racism.” It’s often unclear what this means, but if the term simply refers to that diffuse, but very real, causal connection between historical injustice and contemporary social problems, then criminal justice in America absolutely is “systemically racist.” History has long arms. No conservative should have difficulty grasping this point.

No conservative should have difficulty recognizing the faulty logic either. The above may be more simply stated "If one assumes that the term 'systemic racism' simply refers to a causal connection between historical injustice and social problems, then American criminal justice is 'systemically racist.'" But there is absolutely no reason to assume that the term "systemic racism" "simply refers" to any one thing. Ms. Lu herself suggests that the implied assumption is invalid when she just informed us that "It’s often unclear what [systemic racism] means." If it is unclear, why should we assume it means what she suggests? Perhaps the term is used to mean different things by different people, not all of whom use it in good faith. Conservatives, and anyone else so inclined may, but need not, grasp the point, when it is equally valid to reject the premise that "'systemic racism' simply refers" to what she says it does. Ms. Wu is asking us to assume her conclusion, without bothering to convince us why we should.

Furthermore, the form of the argument is weak. If we are to buy this formulation, then we have no grounds to contest a similar statement, such as "If 'white supremacy' is simply taken to mean that the tooth fairy is white, then there is no doubt that white supremacy refers to something that does not exist." The preposterous conclusion results from the constraints imposed by the initial assumption.

Secondly, as Gabe notes, there is something deficient in the assertion:

Having recognized (correctly) that our society is shaped in deep ways by historical injustice, these citizens have decided that the causal connections must simply be cut...

This rather selective premise leaves out some obvious considerations that such a serious topic should probably include. People (correctly) recognize that lots of things shape our society in deep ways, and this realization is not particularly instructive. How about if we say

Having recognized (correctly) that our society is shaped in deep ways by historical injustice, the Renaissance, global pandemics, the invention of agriculture, the steam engine and the mathematical concept of zero, slavery, natural disasters, the Enlightenment, the development of ocean-going ships, the Marian reforms, the end of the Ice Age etc., etc., these citizens have decided that the causal connections must simply be cut..."

Are we to assume from this that we are trying to collaborate at solving a real problem? How exactly do we sever the causal connection between the bubonic plague and our current social order? I understand that Ms. Lu is not herself espousing "severing the connection," but she does use it to set up an assertion that people who wish to do so believe that "[e]very other principle of justice shall be sacrificed, if necessary, to achieve this single end." This conclusion does not follow from the premise, and in fact seems to be empirically false. Likewise the term "cultural suicide" has a dramatic sound to it, but it is not clear what it means. I am unpersuaded by her argument. Maybe Ms. Lu does have a philosophical, or perhaps even practical point to make, but if so, she did not make it very well.

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z9z99
on July 02, 2020 at 14:54:39 pm

Well, among Z9Z99's options, my vote is for EPA to promulgate in the Federal Register an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking ("ANPR") on the matter of whether to sever our causal connections to the Ice Age, once we properly identify those connections, ascertain just what it was they caused, and determine if "our society is shaped in deep ways" by those connections.

In order to expand the number of monuments that might be toppled, buildings that might be set afire and other symbols that might be destroyed in the ensuing moral outrage, I propose similar ANPR's on two matters not suggested by Z9Z99, the industrious revolution and the American War of Independence.

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paladin
on July 02, 2020 at 16:10:28 pm

While I endorse your general sentiment and goals (no caring and enlightened person would have approved of either the decision to have an Ice Age, nor end it), the procedural remedies that you suggest are outdated. The proper procedure for canceling the effects of the Ice Age, (or the Plague of Justinian, or the Industrial Revolution) is to:

1. Disseminate talking points among progressive journalists emphasizing how the now disfavored historical event makes people feel bad, and is vaguely, but certainly the fault of contemporaries who hold differing political views;

2. Create a hashtag;

3. Adopt mascots. Polar bears make good mascots, (for pretty much any cause) but other things work too, even things that never existed or that themselves couldn't care less about the cause. The important thing is that "activists" be praised for being perceived as caring, that celebrities and corporations fall all over themselves to be liked, because polar bears are liked. And as long as the praise and adulation continues, no one cares if the polar bears die from being force-fed vegan diets. Hey, mascots aren't the team; they don't perform the, um... emotional labor necessary to change things.

5. Get people to start breaking stuff. It isn't hard because people who like to break stuff aren't very bright and do not need to be shown the relationship between breaking things and whatever cause it is that celebrities use to claim to be good people. Plus, it doesn't matter what they break because of justice or something. In fact topple the polar bear statues! Why? Because it is not polar bears that are important, it is the people who claim to care about polar bears that deserve statues!

6. When people start to lose interest in severing the connection between the Ice Age and modern social problems, don't despair. Just move on to the next thing. Down with the oppression of the printing press!

And that, my good friend, is how the world is made a better place.

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z9z99
on July 02, 2020 at 22:26:24 pm

Haha!
You are much better than I at how best to fathom causal connections and to address them so as not to offend postmodern societal (ab)norms. Importantly, I see no signs of white privilege in your scheme.

Please attempt to adapt your causal-connections/severance technique to the specific historical matter of race which has induced Ms. Lu's anxiety and Ms. Petrone's concern. But only if if you find our society to have been shaped in deep and adverse ways by those connections.

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paladin
on June 30, 2020 at 13:27:50 pm

I’m afraid Ms Lu has conflated the underclass with race. At times in the not so distant past, say 1960, the urban underclass that were not closely policed in their own neighborhoods included the Irish, Italians, Jews (in certain areas), the Chinese and more recently Spanish speaking immigrants from Central and South America. I have no objection calling this systemic culturalism but calling it systemic racism is incorrect.

Also, calling neighbors in Powderhorn Park plebeian anarchists is wrong; surely they are bourgeois anarchists.

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EK
on June 30, 2020 at 13:41:53 pm

A couple of years ago the LAPD offered a program to our LA residents called the 'Civilian Police Academy' which was a 1 night per week for 8 or 9 weeks and 3 hours per session on the LAPD. The 1st session was led by a Captain Greene (sp?) who at the time I believe was a precinct captain and a 30 plus year veteran of the LAPD. Capt. Greene gave a brief overview of the history of the LAPD (from the time Darrel Gates was the police commissioner).

One of the films that he showed us was a scene (real life, not a re-enactment) of 2 residents of a neighborhood approaching an LA Sheriff's deputy approaching the officer and asking about the body in the street. In the film you can see the body, covered in a yellow tarp and the location tags showing the location of the shell casings.

When the residents asked the deputy about the crime, the deputy told them, in very dude language to leave.

Captain Greene's comment was that the residents had the right to know what happened and it was the deputy, and his department's responsibility, to be forthcoming to the community to explain precisely what had happened. This was not an officer involved shooting.

The LAPD under Chief Gates and his predecessors took a belligerent attitude to not only minorities but to just about everyone. The attitude of the officers, of all colors and ethnicities, was to be aggressive and confrontational. With the crack epidemic and the massive increase in murders, mainly gang related, the LAPD created Operation Hammer - the LAPD's response to the increase in murders and crimes associated with the flood of crack in mainly minority neighborhoods.

The racial and ethnic composition of the LAPD is significantly different today than what it was when Chief Gates left the department. The attitude of the residents, particularly in minority neighborhoods, is marginally better. How much better depends upon whom you speak to. Part of the improvement may be due to the resident seeing the officer having the same race or ethnicity. If that's true, then it is only a fraction of the improvement in relations between the LAPD and minority communities. Irrespective of the race or ethnicity of the officer, the minority residents only saw a blue uniform.

The main reason for improving relations is the police are more involved with the communities they police. There was a TV series (short-lived and I believe aired by National Geographic) about LAPD Homicide. The series showed the homicide detectives meeting with the communities where the unsolved murders occurred. One of the community leaders, and I don't remember her name, a constant and severe critic of the LAPD, remarked about the improving relations between the LAPD and the residents.

The problems between the minority communities and the LAPD are exacerbated by a cynical and opportunistic political leadership - Mayor Garcetti and all 13 members of LA City Council. The LAPD is a convenient excuse (whipping boy) for all the city's problems. Blaming the police for all of the failed problems erodes faith in the LAPD.

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James Dionne
on June 30, 2020 at 14:17:03 pm

I do not wish to create the impression that I believe American law enforcement has not been guilty of racially-motivated abuse of the rule of law. I would cite the Obama presidency as perhaps the greatest example in U.S history (since Democrat Jefferson Davis and Democrat Woodrow Wilson) of racially-driven abuse of the rule of law.

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paladin
on June 30, 2020 at 14:42:46 pm

" I don't think that anyone with friends who are black hasn't heard about problems they have with the police because they resemble people who the police are watching for, too often black. If it happened to you, you wouldn't be so blithe about it. "

I am not at all certain what this means? And coming from Ms Kate Pitrone, who, at least to my mind has shown herself to be more intelligent and insightful than this garbled comment otherwise indicates.
Let us unpack it:
"...problems they have with the police because they resemble people who the police are watching for..."
Is this not a regurgitation of the oft stated claim that whites can not tell the difference between blacks, i.e. "they all look the same"?
Also, must it not also, by necessity, exclude all encounters involving a black police officer? surely, they are not afflicted with the same restricted vision?

"...too often black."
It is highly unlikely that a white OR black officer would mistake a black suspect for a white suspect. what does this qualifier "too often black mean"?

And it has happened to many white citizens, myself included, who as a younger man was mistaken for a local drug dealer and was forcibly pushed out of my drivers seat, held down and had a .38 S&W revolver placed below my right ear. Similar approach was taken by assisting officer to my passengers.
White officers may also mistake white citizens for white suspects.
My response was "Shit happens." We did not riot, did not claim that the cops were anti-Irish, German, Italian, etc.
Then again, we did not live charmed lives in a fashionable suburb, did not enjoy kayaking on the lake, etc. It may have inured us to much and it may have made us more durable AND ACCEPTING of other peoples foibles and failures.

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Guttenburgs Press and Brewery
on June 30, 2020 at 22:44:37 pm

You probably have me confused with some other Kate Pitrone.

Justice Department crime statistics show us that an inordinate amount of crime in America is committed by young black men. (Hence the qualifier.) Young white men are almost as much of a problem for police and as the mother of several formerly young men, looking like a suspicious type is simply a problem.

Blackness is an easy characteristic to notice. It was always easier to notice than Italianess or Irishness or Germaness, though when the immigrants from those countries were more recently arrived here they must have been easier to distinguish. At least that's what my Italian father-in-law said, as did writers of the time from Damon Runyon to Dashiell Hammet. Perhaps that makes saying "shit happens" easier because all you have to do is cut your hair or change your style of clothing and suddenly you're respectable. I suspect that would at least help some black men. On the other hand, if Senator Tim Scott is having a problem with being stopped for blackness then the problem is more than a matter of style for the black.

I will note that that BLM & Co. managed to turn a generally sympathetic public, those horrified by watching George Floyd dying before our eyes in the video of his arrest, into an antipathetic one through their ghastly behavior. What Rachel Lu notes as a problem we might have sympathy with is too easily dismissed here because hellions on the loose hijacked the situation, which, yes, the Democratic Party has been trying to harness to their own purposes because -- politics. |

What else have they got?

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Kate Pitrone
on July 01, 2020 at 18:54:28 pm

NO, Kate, I do not have you confused with someone else. You are as sharp as I alluded.

BTW: I DO agree with you that one CAN (and SHOULD) agree with the sentiment, given history, that "black lives matte". so long as it is part of a more overarching respect for life in general and in the particularity of young "unborn" life.
THE MOVEMENT BLM is, in fact, Balderdash, BS, hypocritical, duplicitous, mendacious and positively fraudulent. Yet, they have successfully hijacked the proper concern that many citizens have for the unnecessary and horrible death of Mr Floyd (and, Yes, others). They are not what they would have us believe - at least not honest thinking citizens.
They are as Paladin offers an adjunct of the NOW crazed Democrat Party, which has itself successfully hijacked BLM for its own nefarious purposes.

Are there racist cops - Yes!
Are there also cops who, in a sane world and one not governed by Democrat Party electoral machinations, would be dismissed / fined / even jailed for their criminal behavior - Yes!
BUT the existence of the latter does not justify the former.

It distorts the reality of policing to automatically assume that ALL cops are racist as clearly they are not.
What purpose is served by such assertions?
One not entirely dissimilar to the like claims of the Left intended to diminish the citizens respect for american institutions, morals and cultural norms.
Sadly, the Left is succeeding.
We are NOT.
And partly, becuase we do NOT challenge the current narratives at EACH AND EVERY OPPORTUNITY TO DO SO.
We have all become RINO-ized.
Time for a change of attitude and behavior.

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gabe
on July 01, 2020 at 20:14:45 pm

Gabe, did you laugh?

BLM is no worse than the SPLC. There, I've said it. Blackmailers and manipulators all around.
Educationists have had a role in this, as well. Much of justification of rioters are the outrages claimed in the 1619 form of understanding American history. Well, really the proponents of that are not just misunderstanding American history but that of the world. But you refer to mendacity and I'm not sure that's true.

Nor am I sure that it isn't. The young person I know who is involved with BLM, at least tangentially, has no answer for me when I ask what is expected after a generation of government trying to repair the past through civil rights legislation. Since 1957, 1964, civil rights acts and various other efforts since to establish a legislative redressing of past ills, over 60 years of extraordinary effort, enormous expense, and what else ought to be done? Silence after that question.

One fine mess.

Nice to chat, Gabe.

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Kate Pitrone
on June 30, 2020 at 16:54:20 pm

I see that I need to clarify my assertion about the racist special-interest organization, "Black Lives Matter," which is an unofficial financial and political arm of the Democrat Party. I have advised that it should, more accurately, be re-named "Only Some Black Lives Matter."

The recommended name change is due to the fact that BLM seems uninterested in the violent deaths of thousands of Black adults and children who are murdered annually by other Blacks in our inner-cities which are run by Democrat mayors or in the thousands of Black prenatal infants who are murdered annually by White abortionists who fund the Democrat Party and who are legally-protected and sustained by the Democrat Party or the dozens of Black police officers who, in the line of duty, are killed annually by Black and White criminals.

None of these Black dead was a financial supporter of the Democrat Party, Big City Democrat Mayors, Blue State Governors or Democrat Members of Congress.

Only some, and not very many, Black lives matter to Black Lives Matter, it would appear.

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paladin

Law & Liberty welcomes civil and lively discussion of its articles. Abusive comments will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to delete comments - or ban users - without notification or explanation.