Incidents of black men dying at the hands of police always bring out the same tendentious arguments. In the wake of the latest such incident, the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, numerous commentators, including conservative radio host and Fox News commentator Lawrence Jones, have stipulated that if the situation had been reversed — if a black man had killed a white cop — the suspect would have been taken into custody on the spot. That is true, but it has nothing to with racism or a double standard in the application of justice. Police take an oath to uphold the law. That is why they are permitted to carry a gun. If police were automatically arrested on the spot every time they used force, there would be no police left on the streets.
One argument that is even harder to prove comes in the days after a black is killed by law enforcement. That is that the rioting and looting that have become almost a knee jerk reaction are justified. MSNBC’s Joy Reid took a shot at it on Wednesday, asserting:
White men, who can get armed up and walk into a state capitol … that’s okay. And the police are benign — they don’t even act afraid. But let black people show up and protest the death of an innocent black man and suddenly … we got to go full force.
.@JoyAnnReid: "White men, who can get armed up and walk into a state capitol…that's okay. And the police are benign– they don't even act afraid. But let black people show up and protest the death of an innocent black man and suddenly…we got to go full force." pic.twitter.com/JCeXOFFtDY
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) May 28, 2020
There’s a yawning chasm between stealing a flat screen TV and protesting the death of a black man. But even if we concede that the destruction of property that follows these incidents is a righteous expression of anger, the Reids out there need to be mindful that the actions they are condoning come with a price. Reports are surfacing this morning that one protester in Minneapolis was shot and killed by a pawn shop owner while another was injured when he fell from the hood of police car. How would Joy Reid feel if she learned that her “call to action” precipitated this death and injury?
As one famous and greatly admired Democrat acknowledged in reaction to the 2015 looting and rioting in Baltimore, “That is not a protest. That is not a statement. It’s a handful of people taking advantage of a situation for their own purposes, and they need to be treated as criminals.”
That Democrat’s name? Barack Obama.