Saturday, December 05, 2020

Uncontroversial Statement Incurring Controversy

On Wednesday, Barack Obama stated

If you believe, as I do, that we should be able to reform the criminal justice system so that it’s not biased and treats everybody fairly, I guess you can use a snappy slogan like ‘Defund the police,’ but, you know, you lost a big audience the minute you say it, which makes it a lot less likely that you’re actually going to get the changes you want done.

Obama was attacked by leading members of the race and gender (inclusion of gender optional) left, including Representatives Ayanna Presley of Massachusetts, Michigan's Rashida Tlaib, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of Bronx/Queens.

A few Democratic politicians were more extreme than they. Representative Ilhan Omar tweeted "We lose people in the hands of police. It's not a slogan but a policy demand."

Omar should clarify the "we, which if a reference to all Americans, is overly broad and extreme. If she means "blacks," it disregards the vital functions performed by police in, say, inner-city Detroit, St. Louis, or Memphis. Also, some people consider "we" to be Americans, but whatever.

The more inclusive Jamaal Bowman, soon to be a congressman from New York's Bronx/Westchester County, tweeted "Damn, Mr. President. Didn't you say 'Trayvon could've been my son?... Today, discussing police budgets is too  much. The problem is America's comfort with black death- not discomfort with slogans."

Today, there have been 280,000 American deaths directly from Covid-19; doubtless many also of people who didn't receive timely treatment for other ailments because of hospital beds filled with coronavirus victims. Some of those human beings were tribal members, Asian-American, Latino, or white. The problem is comfort with death of individuals in our own nation, whatever their parental background.

And of course Obama said "Trayvon could've been my son."  He knew you and others are easy marks.

At least Bowman seems to be of good will. Cori Bush, newly elected to a congressional seat from St. Louis, charged "It’s not a slogan. It’s a mandate for keeping our people alive. Defund the police. "

Our people? Obama having been raised in Chicago, is Bush referring to Midwesterners? Democrats? Bi-racial individuals? It's a safe guess she doesn't mean "Americans" when she says "ours."

Bush has gone further than Omar, who (whatever her core beliefs) earlier this year called for the dismantling of the Minneapolis Police Department. The Missourian is clearer: defund/dismantle the police.

This is a particularly bad time to advocate dismantling of the police departments nationally and particularly in St. Louis. As of nine weeks ago- with one-quarter of the year remaining- St. Louis had

toppled its own record for homicides per resident for all but one of the last 50 years.

In 1993, there were 267 homicides within city limits. By the end of the year, there had been almost 70 homicides for every 100,000 residents in the city. So far in 2020, there have been around 68 homicides for every 100,000 city residents.

I could laud the former President for slamming the rush to eliminate police departments but that would be succumbing to the mistake Bowman made in attributing more to Obama's T. Martin statement than was intended. As a former President especially popular with Democrats, Obama served a necessary purpose in observing the foolishness of "defund the police."

Yet, he was unable to go the valuable extra step of noting that more aggressively addressing mental illness, addiction, and homelessness does not require undermining police departments. Unfortunately, in the one responsible political party in the USA today, that appears to be a bridge too far.



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