Friday, November 06, 2020

Left, But Not Right


Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was right about one thing in this exchange:

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) on why she supports calls to defund the police in an interview on 'Good Morning America' with George Stephanopoulos on Wednesday: "What a lot of folks are talking about when it comes to the movement, is that they’re asking for the same budget priorities that many affluent suburbs already have. And it may sound strange, but many affluent suburbs have essentially already begun pursuing a defunding of the police in that they fund schools, they fund housing and they fund health care more as their number one priorities."



She's correct- it does sound strange. It sounds strange because, notwithstanding some exceptions in a nation of 89,000 municipalities, her statement is inaccurate. She is wrongheaded in saying "many affluent suburbs have essentially already begun pursuing a defunding of the police in that they fund schools, they fund housing and they fund health care more as their number one priorities."

This may or may not actually be technically accurate. Ocasio-Cortez did not specify any of the affluent suburbs but it's possible that a few have cut police funding. But if so, much of the reason is that police departments in many affluent suburbs, generally towns of little crime, have been overfunded for decades. Their primary benefit to the community is to trap- uh, er, to detect- traffic scofflaws, often of dubious advantage to the public.

These affluent municipalities, typically overwhelmingly non-Hispanic white, face different, and less daunting, problems than the major cities which are the focus of the Black Lives Matter movement and of Representative Ocasio-Cortez.  That may be why in June, Pew Research found "fewer than half of Black adults (42%) say spending on policing in their areas should be reduced."

Support for reduction of policing was greater for blacks than whites, which should (but won't) put an end to the snide meme that defunding the police is a boutique issue for Chardonnay sipping, latte drinking, Prius-driving, overly educated whites. Still, even most blacks oppose reducing funding for police.

That is a hard truth for Black Lives Matter or individuals such as Ms. Cortez to swallow.  We know it is because in the same interview with ABC's Stephanopoulos, the New York congresswoman remarked of what Wikipedia terms the "Buffalo police shovingincident"

The President targeted a 75-year-old man, justice-loving man who, uh, who wanted to stand up for his neighbors and wanted to stand up for his fellow black Americans in making sure that everyone is treated equally in the eyes of the law.

Had he heard it, this would have surprised Martin Gugino who, if appearances do not radically deceive, is white. It does not take a genius to suspect that a fellow named "Gugino" is not black, although names, for various reasons, can be deceiving. But the video, or variants thereof, was widely viewed on both social media and televised newscasts.

 


Gugino could possibly be African-American but in the absence of any such evidence, one would either conclude that he is white or simply assume nothing. And yet Ocasio-Cortez not only lauded him (good, that) because he stood for his beliefs but also claimed it was "for his fellow black Americans."

Note also that Ocasio-Cortez did not literally state "the President targeted a 75-year-old man." She said "the President targeted a 75-year-old, uh, man."  Unsure whether to specify the individual's color, she hesitated before deciding not to do so. She could have noted he was white, which the remainder of her sentence made obvious was not her intention. Alternatively, she might have called him a "black man," which would have sparked the interviewer's attention in a way that opting for "his fellow black Americans" would not, and did not.

It may have been a slip of the tongue, though "his fellow black Americans" would be a very long slip. Or it may have been ignorance on the part of the congresswoman, whom no one has plausibly accused of being uninformed.  But a different picture emerges if  that remark is considered with her unsubstantiated, grossly misleading implication that affluent suburbs are widely slashing police budgets and that major cities should follow their lead. Seen realistically, Ocasio-Cortez can reasonably be viewed as a deeply dishonest politician.

 


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