Uncomfortable but True

July 21, 2007

I think most intellectually honest people read things that they find uncomfortable but with which they also agree, at least in part. A Heather McDonald article in the current City Journal entitled “Cop Killers in High Places” certainly fits that bill.

The thrust of the article goes something like this:

…Justified police shootings constitute only a minute fraction—and unjustified police shootings, an almost imperceptible fraction—of homicides of blacks, virtually all of which are committed by other blacks… But blacks can shoot whites—police officer and civilian alike—without anyone’s organizing a street demonstration about it, much less daring to point out the pattern. Perhaps such incidents are just dog-bites-man stories, too much part of the normal order of things to be considered noteworthy.

I think McDonald crosses the line into flat out race-baiting (and she effectively admits as much) several times throughout the article. Nonetheless, there is an important point in here. The New York Times, and for that matter, most major metropolitan papers, are extremely quick to side against the police in interracial incidents. In my hometown of Philadelphia, I have spent the majority of my life watching death row inmate Mumia Abu Jamal get far more media coverage for his appeals than I would say he deserves, considering the overwhelming evidence that he killed Officer Daniel Faulkner in cold blood, regardless of the much-lamented irregularities in his first trial.

This sort of coverage would be acceptable if it were balanced by coverage challenging the black community for killing its own, which is by any fair metric a much bigger problem. However, the media appears to be too afraid of its shadow to mention anything of the sort in the PC era. To cite one fairly recent (albeit tangential) example, remember how big a deal it was a couple years ago when Bill Cosby, who is black, in case you’d forgotten, encouraged inner city blacks to stop blaming whites so disproportionately for their troubles? CNN Host Paula Zahn actually asked a black anti-Cosby guest if he considered Cosby to be “a race traitor” after the incident, a term originally coined by, uh, the Ku Klux Klan to describe whites who sympathized with blacks.

I worry that I am stepping on a landmine here, so let me sum up my point. The truth is that race relations in this country suck. They always have. They still do. I would like to see them improve as much as anyone. Nonetheless, uncomfortable as it makes me to say it, the black community, and guilty white liberals (myself included) are often too quick to blame whites, particularly white police, in tense interracial situations of the sort McDonald describes.