Sunday, June 27, 2021

Uncharacteristically Keeping It Unreal

Friday night's Real Time with Bill Maher included a lively discussion between the proudly politically incorrect Maher and Max Brooks, senior resident fellow at the Atlantic Council and nonresident fellow at the Modern War Institute at West Point.  (A second guest also participated.) The two were apparently very much in agreement, in which "apparently" does a lot of work. 

At 22:30 Brooks, with a notable reference to "the extreme wokesters on our side," stated "And this should be a lesson to the extreme wokesters on our side who want to do waway with prisons-right- because what do you give Chauvin-  art therapy?"

Then Maher, at 22:56 maintained

Look, people throw around the term "systemic racism" a lot nowadays for everythiing. But the criminal justice system has been full of racism and it has been systemic. I mean, that's the epicenter of the problem.

No, no, it's not. That's the epicenter of the controversy, not of the problem. Systemic racism is only one of many problems in the criminal justice system, though it is the one upon which 98% of the attention is focused. However, don't blame Brooks, while seemingly agreeing with Maher, later (at 25:59) noted

We can admit now that the Democratic Party has a department of self-sabotage. They meet at Oberlin over a cup of Kombucha and white guilit and they think how are we lose Florida on a Jewish communist named Bernie Sanders who's anti-Israel but pro-Fidel Castro.

Unbeknownst to Maher and possibly even to Brooks, the relevant word in that otherwise demagogic remark is, accurately, "department."  By contrast, beginning at 24:03, Maher had maintained

.... you know, I mean the people  (who) want to abolish the police- these must be fans of the Purge movie series, right, because you're not going to like it and I see that the Democrats have finally caught on to this idea because you're not going to like it that because crime is going to be the big issue in that because it's way up and I see Biden now was saying "Defund the police? I said refund"- refund, he's literally doing that old bit. Refund the police because you don't want to be on a place on this issue where you look lie a johnny come lately. I'm talking about all the Democrats and people don't trust you on this issue- oh now, they get the message, now they're coming over to crime is an important issue.....

The Democrats (and) I'm talking about all the Democrats.  Yet, Democratic politicians, officials, and strategists, notwithstanding their praise of the George Floyd protests, that "defund the police" is a polically damanging slogan and generally avoided the phrase. When it has been invoked, it has been to explain, honestly or dishonestly (I've maintained the latter), that it refers to transferring some of the enormous sums spent on police departments to social services in order to address the severe needs of the public, especially of black communities.

Moreover, a quick Google search I made turned up one national Democratic politiican who has called for elimination of police. Similarly, once Maher ended at 25:03, Brooks remarked

And this is the onus is on us because we're in powr now so it's put up or shut up so when someone like Rashida Tlaib tweets out no more police and mo more incarceration, right? The system is unreformable, okay, well, ththen, come up with an alternative aidea and try it out in your district and give us a working model or shut up before you lose us another election.

Tlaib, yes, but as Maher is unaware, it's practically only Tlaib. Two weeks after Floyd's murder, one Democrat tweeted "The 'defund the police' movement, is one of reimagining the current police system to build an entity that does not violate us, while relocating funds to invest in community services."

That was Representative Ilhan Omar, with Tlaib one of the original four members of "The Squad," and considered (aside from Tlaib) the most radical. And she was defining, or redefining, "defund the police" as relocating funds to community services. Even Omar recognized the toxicity of the expression, and recognized it almost immediately. It was largely a rallying cry, and one in a moment of time.

Unknown is the genesis of Maher's determination to stereotype Democrats as initially calling for defunding police, or wanting to strip them of funds, or to exhibit a disinterest in crime.

But we can speculate, and so I will.  Week after week, Maher hits on the same themes, among them political correctness, cancel culture, or "wokeness," which are not synonymous yet obviously intertwined.  And week after week, published, liked and retweeted are tweets which imply that he is racist, call him racist, or even demand that he be vanished from the media.

Maher is no idiot and realizes that far too few moderates or even conservatives watch his show for it to remain on air. He depends on viewership of the left and if he continues to antagonize the race left, he is vulnerable not only to declining viewer numbers but also to a boycott, of his show and/or his stand-up tours.

He probably realizes (as I've emphasized) what happened in national politics, and especially the Democratic Party, in 2020.  Supporters of an octogenarian, ideologically out-of-step with his party and saddled with a history of failing miserably in Democratic primary contests, stayed alive only by winning the primary in South Carolina. He did so only by gaining the endorsement of James Clyburn, and rallying to his side African-Americans, the voters who matter in South Carolina primaries.

And almost automatically, the endorsements came rolling in and white primary voters in state after state decided that Joe Biden, after decades of lulling Democrats to sleep, was the man.

George Floyd was brutally murdered by a white police officer and Black Lives Matter, which popularity had been limited to supporters of eradicating either the police or the nuclear family, quickly became leaders of the black lives matter movement and darlings of CNN and MSNBC.   While hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of whites flocked to the streets, there never was a doubt that the movement was of Black Lives Matter and led by African-Americans determined to end police brutality against their commmunity.

Make no mistake about it: Maher does not say "I mean, that's the epicenter of the problem" lightly. The brutality, he suggests inaccurately, is applied exclusively to the black community. Crime is exploding, he claims, without noting that the increase has been occurring disproportionately in the black community and cannot primarily be attributed to police reform. Nonetheless, he argues, it has been ignored by (nameless) "Democrats."

Most white and black police reform activists may be registered Democrats but Democratic politicians are, with very few exceptions, not among individuals demanding police be defunded.  Moreover, the white activists are motivated by the injustice toward the black community and inspired primarily by the black lives movement and secondarily by Black Lives Matter.

The other guest, author Dave Carlin, remarked "defund the police is the worst marketing political slogan I've ever heard. I heard somebody else say 'why can't you just say 'improve policing'? The answer must not be uttered in polite company. The protests were held in the name of  "black lives matter" and promoted most notably by BLM, whose website at the time demanded defunding of the police.

Black Lives Matter, though, cannot be held responsible, whether by Democratic partisans or by Bill Maher,who has been denounced repeatedly (unjustifiably) for being racially biased.  Thus, ubiquitous "Democrats" are slammed for allegedly propagating "defund the police," whether by Republicans angling for strategic advanage or an otherewise politically incorrect talks how host whose wings have been clipped.

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