The tragedy of violent crime is once again making itself painfully obvious on American streets. What's often not obvious are the radically different, diametrically opposed attitudes driving the problem to new heights. They're exemplified in two articles I've read this morning.
The first article, in the Wall Street Journal, is headlined 'The Black Body Count Rises as Chicago Police Step Back'. In it, Heather MacDonald talks about anti-cop attitudes and the 'Ferguson Effect'. Here's an excerpt.
Chicago is the country’s most-glaring example of what I have called the “Ferguson effect.” Chicago officers have cut back drastically on proactive policing under the onslaught of criticism from the Black Lives Matter movement and its political and media enablers.
In October 2015, Mayor Rahm Emanuel told U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch during a crime meeting in Washington, D.C., that the Chicago police had gone “fetal,” and were less likely to interdict criminal behavior. That pull-back worsened in 2016, with pedestrian stops dropping 82% from January through July 20, 2016, compared with the same period in 2015, according to the Chicago police department. The cops are just “driving by people on the corners,” Mr. Angelo says, rather than checking out known drug dealers and others who raise suspicions. Criminals are back in control and black lives are being lost at a rate not seen for two decades.
Chicago’s cops are responding to political signals from the most powerful segments of society. President Obama takes every opportunity to accuse police of racially profiling blacks and Hispanics. The media, activists and academics routinely denounce pedestrian stops and public-order enforcement—such as dispersing crowds of unruly teens—as racial oppression intended to “control African-American and poor communities,” in the words of Columbia law professor Bernard Harcourt. Never mind that it is the law-abiding residents of high-crime areas who beg the police to clear their corners of loiterers and trespassers.
Further discouraging proactive policing in Chicago is a misguided agreement between the Illinois American Civil Liberties Union and the city that allows the ACLU to review every police stop.
. . .
The media blame poverty, racism and a lack of government services for the growing mayhem. Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson blames lenient prison sentences for releasing Chicago’s gun criminals onto the streets too soon. The Illinois Legislature’s Black Caucus, however, blocks any effort to mandate stricter sentences for gun-toting felons—in a sub rosa acknowledgment that the vast majority (80%) of Chicago’s gun criminals are black.
There's more at the link.
That's the pro-cop perspective. In sharp contrast is an article in the Atlantic by Ta-Nehisi Coates titled 'What O. J. Simpson Means to Me'.
... the Simpson story turned out to be intimately enmeshed with the story of black Los Angeles and its relationship with the police. This was the community the Simpson jury was drawn from, and ultimately the one that held his life in the balance. For years, much of the country has wondered how Simpson could possibly have been found innocent. An unspoken assumption underlies this conjecture—that the jury understood the legal system to be credible. What the film makes clear in piecing together a parade of victims beaten, killed, and harassed by the LAPD is that the predominantly black jury—quite rightfully—understood no such thing.
Even I, college radical that I was, grasped the LAPD’s brutality only abstractly. The officers were brutal because my own politics, and my own experiences with the police, suggested they would be so. But brutality understates what the LAPD did in those years: It didn’t just brutalize black communities; it terrorized them. The terror emanated directly from the top. Police Chief Daryl Gates was a drug warrior who once said at a Senate hearing that casual drug users “ought to be taken out and shot.” In 1982, after numerous deaths of black people had resulted from police use of choke holds, Gates commented, “In some blacks when it is applied, the veins or arteries do not open up as fast as they do in normal people.” The intensifying sense of constant injustice came to a head when four officers were videotaped ruthlessly beating Rodney King in 1991, only to be acquitted when they went on trial. Two weeks after King’s beating, a Korean American grocer shot a black customer, 15-year-old Latasha Harlins, in the back of the head. The grocer, convicted of voluntary manslaughter, received probation, a fine, and community service, but didn’t go to jail.
By the time Simpson came to trial, most of the black community in Los Angeles had ample reason to view law enforcement as lacking not just credibility but basic legitimacy. Victimization fed a loss of respect for law enforcement, and that loss of respect in turn transformed victims into victimizers. The footage of the protracted beating of a white man, Reginald Denny, who was pulled from his truck during the Los Angeles riots, is chilling. But when law enforcement becomes capricious, citizens are apt to resort to their own law, rooted in ancient impulses, tribal loyalties, and vengeance.
The beating of Reginald Denny was vengeance for the beating of Rodney King. And vengeance for King played a role in Simpson’s acquittal, according to one of the jurors, Carrie Bess.
. . .
Whether I saw Simpson as black or not, racism pervaded his case. The role it played went beyond the evidence on display. Racism was not just blatantly revealed in the tapes of the LAPD detective Mark Fuhrman bragging about, among other things, beating black suspects, whom he identified as “niggers,” and explaining how he disregarded their constitutional rights. (“You don’t need probable cause,” Fuhrman said. “You’re God.”) And racism was not just confirmed by Fuhrman’s exposure as a perjurer who was then maneuvered into pleading the Fifth in response to grilling by the defense—including the pivotal question of whether he’d planted any evidence. Racism formed the substrate of the defense’s case: The notion that the LAPD might frame a black man was completely within the realm of possibility for black people in Los Angeles.
. . .
Four years after Simpson was acquitted, an elite antigang unit of the LAPD’s Rampart division was implicated in a campaign of terror that ranged from torture and planting evidence to drug theft and bank robbery—“the worst corruption scandal in LAPD history,” according to the Los Angeles Times. The city was forced to vacate more than 100 convictions and pay out $78 million in settlements.
The Simpson jury, as it turned out, understood the LAPD all too well. And its conclusions about the department’s inept handling of evidence were confirmed not long after the trial, when the city’s crime lab was overhauled. “If your mission is to sweep the streets of bad people ... and you can’t prosecute them successfully because you’re incompetent,” Mike Williamson, a retired LAPD officer, remarked years later about the trial, “you’ve defeated your primary mission.”
Again, more at the link.
There's no possible point of contact between the world views expressed in those two articles. Those in favor of the rule of law can point out until they're blue in the face the fact - the undeniable, empirical, verifiable fact - that black Americans commit far more crimes per capita, relative to their proportion of the US population, than do whites. However, black Americans and their sympathizers and apologists simply don't care. That's irrelevant, as far as they're concerned. They, in turn, can point out until they're blue in the face the undeniable, verifiable fact that racism has been a major factor in the way their community has been treated by police in many states and cities for decades. That's true - but the pro-law-and-order faction tend to discount or disregard it, insisting that only facts matter, not what they prefer to think of as 'perceptions'. They aren't perceptions at all - the evidence proving institutionalized racism is so overwhelming as to be beyond contention - yet that reality is ignored.
So where do we go from here? I honestly don't know. Sadly, I believe the real explosion of conflict has yet to come. Radicals - and radicalized criminals - in the black community are building up a head of steam that must inevitably find release sooner or later. Similarly, those in favor of the rule of law - and I include myself in the latter group - are simply not prepared to allow others to ride roughshod over the standards of civilization - embodied in the constitution and laws of this country - that we hold dear, no matter how provoked they may feel or perceive themselves to be. The irresistible force is on track to run headlong into the immovable object . . . and the outcome is very, very likely to be bloody, because neither side is about to back down.
Is there any way to avoid the coming clash? If you know, please tell us, because I can't see it.