In a New York Post article, Rich Lowry claims that the national conversation we’re having about race in the wake of Michael Brown’s death at the hands of former officer Darren Wilson is “based on lies”:
The “national conversation” about race and policing we’ve been having ever since Michael Brown was shot by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Mo., last summer has been based on lies.
The lie that Officer Wilson shot Brown while he had his hands up and was pleading “Don’t shoot.”
The lie that New York City policemen targeted Eric Garner for a violent arrest because he was black.
The lie, peddled especially by the progressive prince of New York City, Mayor de Blasio, that the police are racist.
These are the lies that fuel hatred for the police, because if the police routinely execute black men in cold blood and serve a thoroughly racist system, they deserve to be hated.
That “national conversation” that has been occurring since Ferguson?
It is not based on lies. Yes, there are facts that may be disputed in the specific case of Michael Brown’s EXTRAJUDICIAL death and denial of his rights as a human being and a U.S. citizen at the hands of former officer Darren Wilson. But the Black Lives Matter movement is about addressing the racial disparities in the criminal justice system. The movement is based on the very real experiences of black Americans. It’s based on the fact that black men are 21 times more likely to be shot and killed by police officers than white men. It’s based on the disproportionate presence of Black Americans in prison. It’s based on racist policies like Stop & Frisk. It’s based on the fact that law enforcement officers are just as prone to possessing implicit racial biases as anyone else which leads to them making snap judgments about People of Color that are often based on stereotypes:
The first step in understanding how implicit racial bias works is to understand the general concept of implicit bias, which can shape the way we think about lots of different qualities: age, gender, nationality, even height.
You can think of it generally as “thoughts about people you didn’t know you had.”
Two of the leading scholars in the field, Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald, capture it well in the title of a book they wrote about the concept. It’s called “Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People“
What do these “blind spots” look like, and how do they shape behavior? Well, if you have a stereotype about Asian people that labels them as “foreign,” implicit bias means you might have trouble associating even Asian-American people with speaking fluent English or being American citizens. If you’ve picked up on cultural cues that women are homemakers, it means you might have a harder time connecting women to powerful roles in business despite your conscious belief in gender equality.
Implicit racial bias also means that many people think of African-Americans as prone to violence. Or less educated than Anglo-Americans. Or that African-Americans are mostly criminals. Or the thinking that leads to officers thinking that a Black suspect has a gun when they don’t have any reason to think so.
These biases are present in cops. In lawyers. In judges. In jurists. No matter their intentions, they are still human beings. No matter our desire to be fair and impartial, we humans have prejudices and the criminal justice system doesn’t currently have a means of weeding out or minimizing those biases so that all citizens are treated equally on the streets by police officers and given a chance at a fair hearing in the courtroom. These prejudices are one more thing that people are protesting against. They are one more example of the racial disparities in the U.S. criminal justice system that leads to People of Color being treated differently than white people.
And these disparities? They did not spring into existence when Darren Wilson decided he had no recourse but to shoot and kill a black man he deemed demonic (no denial of Brown’s basic humanity there). Those disparities were long in existence and the death of Brown brought them to light once more. National attention is shining on the ugliness of those disparities, which is necessary if we are to ever fix this fucked up system.
Lowry goes on to say:
His rote praise of the police notwithstanding, especially now that he is under so much political pressure after the murders of Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, Mayor de Blasio is deeply invested in this smear.
It is why he has made career anti-police agitator Al Sharpton practically deputy police commissioner.
Smear? It’s a smear to recognize that Black Americans are not treated fairly on the streets or in the courtroom?
Also, Al Sharpton is anti-police? Got a citation for that? Not a twisting of his words, but actual quotes where he demonstrates that he is anti-police. Not quotes that call for a reform of law enforcement, but actual quotes where he demonstrates that he is anti-police. I wonder if they’ll be forthcoming.
It is why he considers the police a clear and present danger to his biracial son, Dante.
If it wasn’t already clear, Lowry demonstrates in this one sentence that he doesn’t understand the Black Lives Matter movement AT ALL. The reasons why Mayor de Blasio has talked to his son about police brutality are all over the country. We’re in the middle of having a national conversation about those reasons, remember? Is Lowry’s memory that poor? I doubt it. What is more likely is that he doesn’t believe the claims of African-Americans across the country. Or perhaps he simply doesn’t care about the experiences of Black people, which is entirely possible, scary though that may be. Either way, the end result is an article that attempts to undermine the entire Black Lives Matter Movement while not understanding the very reasons the movement exists.
Lowry also takes it as truth that people are lying about aspects of the Brown case. Given that many facts in the case are disputable, he has no reason to be as certain as he is that people are lying. How does he know that? How do we know these “lies” aren’t actual truths? I hope he’s not using Witness #40 as reason to believe people are lying, since she wasn’t even there to witness Wilson’s heartless murder of Brown. As I said above, there are facts that are disputable. Did Brown have his hands up was Wilson shot him? I don’t know. Was he pleading “don’t shoot”?I don’t know. I don’t know how the writer of this article knows either. But whether he was or not doesn’t change what the movement is about. By claiming that the entire Black Lives Matter movement is based on lies, the writer of this New York Post article dismisses the real experiences of countless people across the country. He also demonstrates that he doesn’t understand the complaints of African-Americans across the country as he sets up a massive strawman and sets about burning it to the ground.
I wonder what agenda Rich Lowry has.