If you're a liberal/progressive supportive of the aspirations of black Americans who recognize that police officers occasionally abuse their power, you probably are repulsed at the statements of former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani on Sunday's Face the Nation. However, if you're a conservative who believes the proposals of Black Lives Matter sound more like demands, and smack of blaming whites for all problems of the dispossessed, you should be repulsed at Rudy Giuliani's attitude.
So -- so if you want to deal -- if you want to deal with this on the black side, you've got to teach your children to be respectful to the police and you've got to teach your children that the real danger to them is not the police, the real danger to them 99 out of 100 times, 9,900 out of 1,000 times are other black kids who are going to kill them. That's the way they're going to die.
The former mayor has put in his application to be the face of white privilege as he wags his finger at black parents and tells them how to raise their children. Teaching children to be respectful of the police is wise- but not only for young blacks but young people of all races.
Now, on the -- on the white -- on the white side, we have to understand that whether we get it or not, there is this extraordinary fear of the police, and police have to be -- have to institute a policy of zero tolerance, like we did for crime in New York. Zero tolerance. No disrespect.
Dickerson then identified a possible contradiction, telling Giuliani
you started out by saying that white Americans have to understand that this is happening in the black community, and then at the end you said, members of the black community have to teach their children to behave in front of the police. That -- those messages seem to conflict with one another.
When Giuliani denied a conflict between these two assertions, he was not confronted with a more obvious contradiction. "There is this extraordinary fear of the police" in the black community, he noted, and then argued "police have to institute a policy of zero tolerance."
There are few more effective ways to increase fear of the police than to institute a policy of zero tolerance, which could not possibly escape Giuliani's comprehension. He should, and does, know better. In Giuliani's own New York City, two years ago 43-year-old Eric Garner was stopped on the street by police officers who believed he was selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. A few moments and a scuffle later, Garner was shot dead by a police officer in a sterling example of the zero tolerance Rudy adores.
The ex-mayor, however, never has been a knee-jerk conservative, even though he pretended to be so during his abortive run for president in 2008. "Now, on the- on the white- on the side," he maintained, "we have to understand that whether we get it or not, there is this extraordinary fear of the police." Notice that the police, the men and women armed to protect the populace, do not have to understand this. White people you (or your neighbors) and I have to understand it, to put aside our ignorance or bigotry. (He also blames "all of the media," presumably because blaming one or more specific individuals would require backbone.)
This mirrors the response to Dallas of Newt Gingrich (with whom Giuliani expressed agreement), who startled liberals, conservatives, and moderates alike by declaring "If you are a normal white American, the truth is you don’t understand being black in America, and you instinctively under-estimate the level of discrimination and the level of additional risk."
No one can be sure who "a normal white American is." Moreover, one may wonder how the former House Speaker knows all (normal) whites "don't understand being black in America." .
Some whites do understand and some don't, and the stereotyping doesn't wash. Neither does Gingrich's failure to suggest that there might, possibly, conceivably be a problem with police culture in one or two American cities or towns. Nor should Giuliani's similar attempt at whitewashing the culpability of police officers by saying "on the white side, we have to understand, that whether we get it or not..."
What we must "get" is that Rudy Giuliani, like Newt Gingrich, believes it is not the responsibility of police officers, whose actions can help or harm in the most extreme fashion, to understand the black community. It is the responsiblity of you, your relatives, your neighbors, and your co-workers rather than of the individuals whose understanding (or lack thereof) has direct consequences for people (especially black males, and especially young black males) on the street.
The former mayor wants you to know black parents and white people generally are to blame. He doesn't want you to understand that it is more important that public figures, especially government officials, and law enforcement (generally well-meaning and dedicated) have a greater impact and must bear even more responsibility for their statements and actions.
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