I expect that I will continue blogging right through to the New Year and beyond but not perhaps as much as usual in the next few days. MERRY CHRISTMAS to all who come by here!
In re Michael Brown and Eric Garner
In the wake of the two deaths above, relations between American police and African-Americans have plummeted to a new low -- in part because of anti-police rhetoric from the likes of far-Leftist Bill de Blasio. De Blasio has since tried to pull his horns in but the damage has been done.
Conservatives have cautiously exonerated the police involved in the deaths above but blacks have become fired up by the Leftist pot-stirring and two NYC police have now died as a result. So I feel moved to say what little I can that might help the situation.
What I want to do here is to offer a couple of anecdotes in support of the view that civility towards the police will generally engender civility from the police. When the Ferguson and NYC police were both confronted by two huge and un-co-operative blacks, the result was always going to be perilous but could have been much ameliorated by a more civil response from the blacks concerned.
My contact with American law enforcement is very minor but I do think my contact with the California Highway Patrol -- not exactly a much praised body of men -- is instructive. My contact occurred in the 1970s, when Jimmy Carter's reviled 55 mph speed limit still applied on American highways. I was bowling along a Los Angeles freeway in my hired Ford Pinto at about the speed I would have used in Australia -- 65 mph. And I had with me my then-wife, a very fine Scottish woman aptly named "Joy"
A CHP patrol detected me and pulled me over. The trooper approached me very cautiously, sticking close to the side of the Pinto and standing behind me instead of beside me. He was obviously very tense. But when he found that I was unaggressive and perfectly civil to him, he untensed rapidly. The fact that I speak with an accent that Americans usually perceive as British may also have helped. It helped explain my unawareness of California rules. (For the phoneticans, my accent is Educated Australian). We had a perfectly genial conversation at the end of which he waved me on my way without even giving me a ticket.
White privilege? Not exactly. Because something similar happened recently to me where I live in Brisbane, Australia -- a place where blacks are too few to influence policy.
I was approached by a Queensland cop when I had unwittingly made an illegal turn. And Queensland cops are not exactly fragrant. There are many bad apples among them. Even the police Commissioner was sent to jail for corruption not long ago.
So the cop was initially brusque and supercilious with me. When I showed that I was listening to him carefully by asking him to repeat something I had not understood, however, he became much more relaxed and we had a fairly genial conversation. He saw it as his duty to give me a ticket but we ended up with him wishing me a Merry Christmas and pausing other traffic to facilitate my driving off. Once again a civil and co-operative approach from me got exactly the same back.
These are only anecdotes but I think they feed into a general perception of what might have saved the lives of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. There is an old saying that people are a mirror of ourselves. There is a lot of truth in it.
The Heavy Price of Obama's Race-Bait Rhetoric
By Mark Alexander
Two weeks ago in my column “Blame Racist Cops?” I published a detailed analysis of how Barack Obama, his Attorney General Eric Holder and their senior adviser on “race relations,” that raging racist Al Sharpton, launched the 21st Century Policing Task Force, a $265 million charade based on the assertion that most white cops hold racist views on “people of color.”
To distract attention from his cascading domestic and foreign policy failures, as affirmed by the resounding defeat of Democrats in the 2014 midterm elections, Obama and his race antagonizers seized upon a duo of emotive diversions – the deaths of two black men, Michael Brown in Missouri and Eric Garner in New York, as fodder for a national crusade against a political straw man: endemic racism in the ranks of law enforcement.
The underlying assumption of this folly is because “people of color” are arrested more often than white people, this must be a “racist cop problem” rather than an urban culture problem – the direct result of disastrous liberal social engineering programs beginning in the 1960s.
To further that assumption, Obama is repeating this claim nationwide: “I got into politics … so that the country understands [racism] … is an American problem. … A combination of bad training [and] departments that really are not trying to root out biases, or tolerate sloppy police work; a combination in some cases of folks just not knowing any better, and, in a lot of cases, subconscious fear of folks who look different – all of this contributes to a national problem that’s going to require a national solution.”
Holder is pushing his assessment of race relations: “We as a nation have failed. It’s as simple as that. We have failed.”
Meanwhile, Sharpton is leading the “What do we want? Dead cops!” protests in New York, and insists, “You thought you’d sweep [the Brown and Garner murders] under the rug. You thought there’d be no limelight. We are going to keep the light on Michael Brown, on Eric Garner, on all of these victims because … the only way you make roaches run – you got to cut the light on.”
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio doubled down on the Obama/Holder/Sharpton race-bait rhetoric with this claptrap: “We’re not just dealing with a problem in 2014. We’re not dealing with years of racism leading up to it – or decades of racism. We are dealing with centuries of racism that have brought us to this day. That is how profound the crisis is.”
This cast of race hustlers are propagating the lie that Brown and Garner were killed because cops are racist. In response, I concluded my “Blame Racist Cops?” column with a warning that Obama and Holder “have thrown cops under the bus with their diversionary race-bait rhetoric, and that will escalate violence against police officers.”
Responding to de Blasio’s racist rhetoric, the NYPD Officer’s Union launched a petition to inform the Mayor that he would not be welcome at police funerals. Tragically, on Saturday, two NYPD officers became the first murder victims of that rhetoric.
Officer Wenjian Liu was 32 years old and just married two months ago. Officer Rafael Ramos was 40 and the father of two sons. Both Liu and Ramos were minority officers – Asian and Hispanic, respectively.
They were murdered by a racist black man, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, possibly affiliated with Baltimore’s urban “Black Guerilla Family” gang. Brinsley posted a social media comment Saturday, proclaiming, “I’m Putting Wings on Pigs Today. They Take 1 Of Ours. Let’s Take 2 of Theirs.”
Though Brinsley pulled the trigger, a senior New York law enforcement investigator told me shortly after Liu and Ramos were murdered, “Obama, Holder, de Blasio, and that f—ing racist Sharpton are accessories to murder. Our brothers' blood is on them all. Their racist rhetoric is totally inexcusable. This was totally predictable. We are going to hold them totally accountable.” He indicated his outrage is shared across the board – regardless of race, and noted that there is obviously no moral equivalence between the murders of Liu and Ramons, and the deaths of Brown and Garner.
Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association in New York, stated, “Mayor de Blasio, the blood of these two officers is clearly on your hands. It is your failed policies and actions that enabled this tragedy to occur. Ever since this mayor took office there has been a sense of lawlessness that is rampant in every borough. I only hope and pray that more of these ambushes and executions do not happen again.”
Similarly, Patrick Lynch, head of the NYPD Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said, “That blood on the hands starts on the steps of City Hall, in the office of the mayor. When these funerals are over, those responsible will be called on the carpet and held accountable.”
Former New York Gov. George Pataki said on Twitter the officers' deaths were a “predictable outcome of divisive anti-cop rhetoric of #ericholder & #mayordeblasio.”
Saturday afternoon, when de Blasio and his entourage made their obligatory visit to Woodhull Hospital, where the bodies of Officers Liu and Ramos were taken, they passed down a hallway filled with NYPD officers, all of whom silently turned their backs to de Blasio in protest.
In response to that protest, de Blasio had the audacity to say, “It’s unfortunate that in a time of great tragedy, some would resort to irresponsible, overheated rhetoric that angers and divides people.” The primary source of irresponsible, overheated and divisive rhetoric here is de Blasio and his fellow race-baiters. Further, de Blasio called for a temporary cessation of protests and political debate about racist cops until after the funerals of Liu and Ramos. Then, the race rhetoric can resume.
Having spent the early years of my career as a uniformed patrolman, this assault on my brothers and sisters in blue is very personal. While there are instances of racial bias and abuse of power, the vast majority of police officers from municipal, state and federal agencies are endeavoring to “serve and protect” our fellow citizens against lawless sociopathic miscreants.
In reality, Brown and Garner did not die because of “racism.” They would be alive today had they obeyed lawful orders instead of making fatal choices. However, Obama, Holder and their race-baiting minions insist that these individuals were entitled to ignore lawful orders on the assumption of “black privilege” and the errant notion that “society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker.”
Predictably, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund issued a statement insisting, “These two killings … like so many other unfortunate incidences of gun violence, provide a stark example of the need for sensible gun control measures. While some may suggest a causal link between these killings and the recent protests and activism focused on the serious issue of police violence against unarmed African Americans, we caution against escalating an already tense national state through rumor and conjecture.”
Officers Liu and Ramos were not murdered by “gun violence.” Their murders were inspired by racist rhetoric.
It is time for Obama, Holder, Sharpton, de Blasio, et al., to stand down and shut up.
Fact is, the primary source of racial discord across our nation is not “white racism.” It is Barack Obama, who was indoctrinated by Marxist mentors from a young age, and had radical racist views shaped by the Afrocentric theology of Jeremiah “God D— America” Wright for the 20 years prior to his first presidential campaign.
The Obama administration has fomented racial discord from day one. This toxic discord has been propagated unchallenged for the last six years, and consequently it has permeated deep into the pit of black urban culture where it has festered.
However, now with the blood of murdered police officers on their hands, as my law enforcement colleague in New York said, “We are going to hold them totally accountable.”
A Happy Christmas for the Castro Regime
Normalized diplomatic ties with the United States will give the Castro brothers even more reasons to smile. But President Obama's sharp change in policy won't bring liberty any nearer for Cuba's 11 million people.
After five years in a Cuban dungeon, American aid contractor Alan Gross was finally freed Wednesday, his release part of a deal to restore full diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba. But there will be no freedom for the many thousands of Cuban citizens locked in the Castros' prisons – not even after a US embassy is reopened in Havana.
The United States has always had diplomatic ties with nasty regimes. In that sense, President Obama’s announcement last week that he intends to normalize relations with Cuba merely adds another to the list. But Cuba isn’t just another dictatorship.
To begin with, it is the only remaining totalitarian state in the Western Hemisphere. The Castro brothers' regime “continues to repress individuals and groups who criticize the government or call for basic human rights,” notes a recent Human Rights Watch summary of conditions on the island. “Officials employ a range of tactics to punish dissent and instill fear in the public, including beatings, public acts of shaming, termination of employment, and threats of long-term imprisonment.”
There is no freedom of speech or religion in Cuba, no due process of law, no right to criticize the government. Nor is there any right to leave, which is why so many Cubans have lost their lives at sea, drowning in desperate attempts to escape. If the president’s abrupt shift of policy were part of an American strategy to topple such an odious dictatorship, it might be defensible. Unfortunately, it is hard to see this as anything but one more iteration of the Obama administration’s idea of statecraft: Accommodate the world’s worst actors and consciously reduce America’s clout in shaping international opinion.
The Cuban regime is one of the few with which Washington severed ties on a fundamental matter of principle, having first welcomed its accession to power. The United States initially supported the Castro revolution – early in 1958 the Eisenhower administration imposed an arms embargo against Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista, and it swiftly recognized the new government in 1959. It wasn’t until 1961 that President Eisenhower cut diplomatic relations with Havana, and that was only after Castro had seized private property and nationalized (read: stole) billions of dollars' worth of assets belonging to US companies in Cuba. More than half a century later, that massive larceny is still unrepaid.
Obama dismisses this as mere history. He pooh-poohs the relevance of a policy “rooted in events that took place before most of us were born.”
Yet as a candidate for president, Obama vowed that his policy toward Cuba would “be guided by one word: Libertad.” He bent over backward to stress that while he favored engagement, there would be no quid of normalization until there was a quo of democratization: “Don’t be confused about this,” Obama told voters in Florida. “I will maintain the embargo. It provides us with the leverage to present the regime with a clear choice: If you take significant steps toward democracy, beginning with the freeing of all political prisoners, we will take steps to begin normalizing relations. That’s the way to bring about real change in Cuba.”
That was then, this is now. As in almost every other region touched by Obama’s foreign policy since 2009, liberty in Cuba has made no gains. Leverage has not been deployed. Political prisoners remain behind bars. And significant steps toward democracy remain a fantasy.
Obama isn’t the first president to find ways to ease trade and travel sanctions against Cuba. But the increased business – US agricultural exports to Cuba soared from $4 million in 2001 to more than $450 million in 2010 – has mostly entrenched Cuba’s rulers. Easing them further will entrench them even more. That is because the Castro regime, in addition to its other charms, is a criminal syndicate. It controls Cuba’s tourism and foreign trade operations much as Al Capone controlled Chicago’s liquor rackets. When foreign currency flows to Cuba, it flows to the dictatorship and its military. As Rich Lowry commented in Politico last week, it is as if the Pentagon owned the Radisson, Marriott, and Hilton hotel chains.
Despite the president’s warm-and-fuzzy rhetoric about the Cuban people’s right to “live with dignity and self-determination,” nothing about this normalization reflects the least concession on Havana’s part. For decades, Obama said, the United States has “proudly… supported democracy and human rights in Cuba.” But there is no hint that human rights or political freedoms will improve for ordinary Cubans. An end to Communist Party control? Contested elections? An unmolested free press? Don’t hold your breath.
Echoing a popular talking point, the president claims that America’s longstanding policy toward Cuba hasn’t “worked,” by which he apparently means that Cuba is still a crude and brutal tyranny. “For more than 35 years, we’ve had relations with China… Nearly two decades ago, we reestablished relations with Vietnam,” Obama says – as if that supports, rather than undermines, the notion that normal diplomatic and trade relations with Communist dictatorships will transform them into humane and democratic societies. Normalization hasn’t “worked” in Vietnam or China. Why expect a different outcome in Cuba?
There have always been reasonable arguments on both sides of America’s fraught Cuba policy. But there is nothing reasonable about Obama’s drastic shift of policy. It amounts to an invaluable gift to the worst regime in the Americas, in exchange for no lasting gain in human rights, democracy, or libertad.
This will be a happy Christmas for the Castros and their courtiers, who are getting something they have long desired. As for their millions of beleaguered subjects, still unfree and impoverished: They’ll have to go on waiting.
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