The other night, I was watching a live feed out of Dallas - coverage of the assassination of multiple police officers, and the chaos on the streets as they tried to locate and stop the shooter. In the end, five officers are dead, and the politics have already begun.
One thing that has caught many people's attention was a young black man who was openly carrying a rifle at the protest. Open carry is legal in Texas, so there was nothing wrong with what he was doing - but someone had snapped his picture, and after the shooting started, they sent it to Dallas police, who put it on Twitter, saying that he was a person of interest, and they needed help in locating him. Within minutes, his picture was plastered on TVs across the nation.
It didn't take long for word to get back to him that police were looking for him, so he sought out Dallas police officers, handed over his rifle, and turned himself in. He was questioned, and then released.
So while police officers were being shot at in Dallas, a young black man approached officers while carrying a rifle, and he was not killed.
This is the problem with the sensationalism that happens when a black person is shot by police. We see a cell-phone video that shows part of an incident, or hear unreliable descriptions from people who saw part of whatever went down, and it gets spread all across the nation. Millions of people jump to conclusions, so that by the time the fact come in, everyone's opinions have already formed, and it no longer matters what the facts are - our minds are made up.
In Ferguson, much of the media narrative was based on an eye-witness account provided by a friend of Michael Brown - an account that turned out to be almost entirely false. The rallying cry of "Hands Up, Don't Shoot!" was based on lies. Those lies were amplified and sensationalized and spread around by a news media hungry for ratings, and by the time the truth started to come out, the streets of Ferguson were already burning.
We have seen this meme repeated too many times, and each time the tensions get ratcheted up another notch, to the point that we are now seeing attacks on police officers in cities across America.
There are several questions we should be asking: how much of this violence is driven by racism, and how much is driven by sensationalism? The news that a thug was shot after robbing a convenience store and attacking a police officer shouldn't really be news outside of the area where it happened, yet whenever an incident occurs that can be construed as racial in nature, it gets sensationalized and spread across the nation. The media forms a narrative, and that narrative gets repeated ad nauseum
across the nation. Politicians jump in, pointing accusatory fingers at law enforcement, throwing gasoline on the fire. In actual cases of racism, the perpetrators should be tried, and punished according to the law...yet time after time after time, we see massive riots and protests over what are initially perceived
as racist incidents, only to find out later that the sensationalized story was not the real story. The sensationalism has reached such heights that three nations have issued travel warnings
to any of their citizens who may be planning to travel to the United States.
There are so many calls to "have a conversation" about these racial tensions in America, yet when the fact come out about a shooting that spawned protests and riots, and it turns out that the officer was in the right, what are we supposed to converse about? How do we converse at all when white people are told one minute to "have a conversation," and told the next minute to shut up, because we can't possibly understand the plight of the black community?
While we see so many fingers pointed at police, or "white privilege," or any of a number of other issues, there are deep issues in the black community. There are significant issues with crime and gang violence in the black community, yet those issues aren't allowed to enter into the "conversation."
For law enforcement officers, it can take less than one second for a routine traffic stop to turn into a life-or-death situation. In the recent cases that have caused controversy, it is important to let all of the facts come in before rendering judgement. Turn the TV off for a while. Don't let the media and the politicians manipulate you for their own agendas. It is already beginning to look like there is more to the case in Minnesota
than what was said in the video that brought it to the nation's attention, similar to what happened in Ferguson, Baltimore, New York, and over and over again.
A man backed away as law enforcement officials closed in on and eventually detained him Monday during protests over Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Mo. The St. Louis suburb is nearly 70 percent black; its police force is more than 90 percent white. | Photo: Whitney Curtis | Ferguson, Riot, Racial Tension, Violence, Civil Rights, Racism,
I may not have the perspective to fully understand the experience of African Americans in the U.S. today, but I do know that one of life's hard truths is that if you want things to change in your life, it's up to you
to change them. If most white people don't have the perspective to understand how things are really going in the black community, shouting them down, blocking freeways, and being violent are not going to bring anyone around to your side of things. And while we can definitely see a lot of pain and frustration, we don't see a lot of effort going into fixing the crime and gang problems in the black community that will never be fixed from the outside. You see, those efforts - the efforts that actually help - don't drive ratings in the news media, or create the kind of sensationalism that gets people to the ballot box to vote for their favorite statist.
The most important thing we can all do in reaction to the constant deluge of doom & gloom that comes to us every day is to turn it off, and remember that we're all human beings. Despite what the interested parties may want us to think, race matters much less, to a lot fewer people, than we're told it does.