Sunday, July 10, 2016

Four stories on the Dallas shootings

I'm deeply saddened by the shooting of police in Dallas during a friendly, non-violent protest against police shootings elsewhere.

We've seen this before--people taking out their hatred by mass killings. This time it was a black man who was angry with whites, particularly police. But daily it's someone angry with this group or other, or just angry at the world. This country isn't a land where everyone has to fear going outdoors because of the high level of violence (countries like Somalia, parts of Mexico, Honduras among others). But this is a glimpse of what it could be like.

The thread of civilization that prevents the general outbreak of such violence has become thinner, and there are more such violent incidents reported even as the overall murder declines. Can you imagine if half a dozen people in every medium-to-large city decided to do what this man did, and murder as many police as possible? What if two days later another person was doing the same thing in the same city?

Actually, now that I write this, I feel confident that our police forces could handle such a situation--that the number of violent people would run out long before our police were swamped. For that I'm very grateful.

After this long prologue, here are the stories:

So will this tragedy spur other angry people to act out, or will it make them rethink? I can't predict. However, I remember the Oklahoma City bombing, and how it was so horrific that it quieted the violence for a while. We can hope for that, but it would be so much better if five police officers didn't need to die for us to learn.

Dallas Police Chief David Brown
Image: fox4newscom

Update 7/11/16. A report of the radical black organizations that the shooter tried to join. None are as radical in tactics as the Black Panthers of 40 years ago, but Lakesia Washington of the Black Riders supports the shooter and the shooting.Update 


Dangerous said...

This discussion reminds me of a thematic scene from Woody Allen's iconic Hannah and Her Sisters. In a scene between one of the sisters, played by Barbara Hershey, and her line-in boyfriend / artist played brilliantly by the great Max von Sydow, Max's character does a monologue to his girlfriend about how for the first time in a long time, he actually sat and watch TV, flipping through the channels.

He shares that he ended up watching a documentary on the Holocaust, and all the learned people and historians all wrung their hands asking how something like that could happen. But Max concludes that they are all asking the wrong question. The right question, he says, is: "Given what people are, how come it doesn't happen more often?"

The non-stop exasperated media coverage and political and authority reactions to all these events, plus your blog post compels me to reach the same conclusion as Max. It does happen all the time, he adds, but in subtler forms. The Black Lives Matter draws its name and inspiration from one of those "subtler forms". Police shooting black citizens, often on the flimsiest of provocations, and not being held accountable, is just the most overt of those subtler forms. They are a minority in this country and as such they don't form a potent political force unlike, say, wealthy businesspeople who, while an even smaller minority, are able to kick and scream at "regulations" that attempt to prevent some of the worst offenders from taking advantage of the rest of us. I'd like to see the same stop-and-frisk type policies and traffic stops on weak pretenses employed against white business people. Then they'd see what it is like to be black in America: guilty and maybe executed until proven innocent.

One pro-police talking head on CNN even had the arrogance to suggest that the Dallas shooter was motivated by Black Lives Matter rhetoric and, as such, carried some of the blame. The moderator should have challenged him to quantify how much BLM's rhetoric motivated him versus the actual killing of people he empathized with by white police officers. Was it 95% the actual killing and 5% BLM rhetoric? And is he ready to immediately excuse any police officer that, say, rolls up on a 12-year-old African American boy playing in the park with a toy gun, and shot him died within 2 seconds? What kind of rhetoric leads to that kind of police decision-making?

Let's try this: Get rid of ALL guns not stored in licensed gun ranges or under military command and control. That will certainly go a long way toward protecting both police and citizens. Or, for a less aggressive policy, how about profiling anyone who wants a buy an assault weapon? No? Then start asking the right question. Humans beings taught to ignore the humanity of others, or separated from society voluntarily or by force, will always lash out. That's what human beings are.

BTW -- Trump is wrong. Police are not the difference between civilization and chaos. Chaos is civilization's cost of doing business.

Luke said...

This is nothing new. It is a typical cycle of racial violence between blacks and whites, that has been going on for centuries.
After the Rodney King incident and the non-guilty decision for the officers, the riot started. After MLK was killed, cities all over the country were rioted and burned. It's eye for an eye violence, because blacks can't seem to get equal justice out of the justice system.
I'm a white guy and it's hard for me to believe that all the cops charged with murder, excessive force, discrimination, all seem to get off.
A white suburban kid gets caught with powder cocaine (1st offense) will probably get probation, if he has no criminal history. A black kid caught with crack cocaine, with no criminal history (1st offense) will get jail.
I believe there is institutional racism and discrimination.
It's an us against them mentality for the minority, because of the biased treatment by authorities. And Trump is just fueling that fire.
It's a much more complicated problem, but blacks are continuing to suffer while waiting for the majority to do the right thing.

ModeratePoli said...

@Luke, I agree. And welcome to my blog.

Dangerous said...

@Luke while most cops get away with just about any use of force, some are either convicted or plead guilty, or are held to account some other way. Civil liability also attaches to municipalities for police abuse, even if a criminal conviction of the officer in general doesn't happen.

But the problem goes deeper that just police as violence and injustice is done to minority populations around the world, often with tacit approval or indifference of the majority population. That's the actual tribal nature of humans for centuries (and longer, actually), with police turning away or simply enforcing the "law" which is often society's excuse for maintaining an unjust status quo. Enlightenment is hard work in that society has to look beyond formation of quick opinions and perceived personal benefits. Politicians like Trump and most of the GOP have found they can win votes by confirming the majority's knee-jerk reaction to events and circumstances. Look at the way they rail against "political correctness" which, primarily, was and is designed to nudge people to think more broadly about others.

Trump: "I'm going to be the law and order" president." Translation: "Don't worry about other tribes. I'll use the law to keep them in their place and away from you."

Trump: "Black Lives Matter is inherently racist". Translation: "How dare they make us feel bad that we're not doing as much as we might to make the world more just."

I'm a white guy too, and I hear inherent racism coming from some guys I play ball with. Trump appeals to them I'm sure. I hear it out in the world, too, and see it in body language of strangers. It's not directed towards me, but I can imagine if it were. 90% of communication is non-verbal and words can lie. Actions do not. That's what makes great poker players.

For my part, I try to live race blind and sometimes actually achieve it. It's not particularly difficult for me since I've trained myself to recall that I don't know a stranger's blood type and that's a more important physical trait than their skin color or ethnicity.

But I know most people don't and never will think that way, preferring the comfort of easy stereotypes and common surface traits. That's such a shame because people make terrible mistakes in judgment. The fiercest-looking stranger of a different ethnicity could be the most giving and compassionate person you'll meet, while someone like Trump, who looks like me and went to the same school (Wharton) as I did, would rip you heart out of your chest if it served his purposes, and do so without a second thought.

President Obama gave an A speech yesterday touching on similar themes. But it's fleeting in a chaotic world dominated by people pursuing their own agendas and a mass media driven by dramatic conflict. The only way forward is for each of us to push and push and push each other for greater compassion and understanding, even if we are less comfortable in some ways.

Luke said...

Curious that a highly educated society like ours can't figure this out. Intolerance, racism, bigotry, and hate are learned traits. I tend to think the more education one has the less they will tend to be intolerant, racist, bigoted, or hate filled. But no amount of book learning can take the bigotry and stupidity out of people. How do we end up with a person smart enough to be a pediatric neurosurgeon, yet, believes the world is only 6,000 years old? How do we end up with cops who shoot first and ask questions later, with the best training from the so called brightest minds? How can our best and brightest in business and politics run this country in to the ground? How can a generation who started out chanting peace, love, stop war, end up being the most selfish generation and produce the hate filled, deadly society we have now? How can a society drenched in the so called secrets of peaceful living (from religion to cults to health advise) be so bigoted and violent? The enlightened men who started our government and country, were violent bigots, who revolted against even worse violent bigots. This is part of our character.

ModeratePoli said...

@Luke, education does help, but education isn't monolithic, nor should it be. A brilliant neurosurgeon isn't going to be brilliant at everything, because brilliance isn't monolithic. Neither is the 60's generation.

I'm not sure what point you're trying to make. If it's that things can't get better, I think history shows you're wrong.

Luke said...


I agree with you about history, so my confusion is why did this generation change its cultural ideology and thinking. How can violence and racism be as bad now, as it was 40 years ago, with this generations background? They have gone from liberal to conservative in a short period of time. It doesn't make sense to me. What am I missing?

ModeratePoli said...

@Luke, sorry for the delay in answering. I think racial violence is better than in the 70's when the Klan was still fighting integration. Everyone except the tiny minority of white supremacists is now publicly for equality.

(I checked here for a listing of racial unrest:)

We had a very long quiet period from 2000 to 2014, so someone could say that we've worsened since then. Perhaps we have, but it seems that police treatment of blacks has been simmering for a long time, and there were finally enough incidents during a short period to prompt an overflow of resentment.

As for what you're missing, I can only speculate. There are probably more blacks who are willing to stand up for their rights and rock the boat while doing it. The old-fashioned don't-rock-the-boat generation has probably largely died off.

On the police side, I wonder if training has changed to emphasize police self-protection as the first response. But I don't really know.

Please continue to share, especially if you find good explanations. Thanks!