News media and police have crucial roles in civil society, but politically biased media and corrupt police are instigators of social injustice, not a remedy for it.
“No one hates a bad cop more than a good cop.” Shortly before I started this post, that was said to me by a law enforcement officer who reads These Stone Walls. I had a subject for a post in mind this week and I asked his opinion about it. I have some rather strong feelings about the apparent abuse by a police officer that so unjustly took the life of Minneapolis resident, George Floyd over an allegedly fake $20 bill. My reputation and freedom were also summarily destroyed by a corrupt police officer, but I have my life intact, even if unjustly in prison.
But the “good cop” who spoke to me (and he is a good cop) convinced me that now is not the time to pounce on the bandwagon of public anxiety to air my own grievance about corrupt police and their enablers. It would get a lot of attention, but it also feels exploitive. I simply cannot hang my grievance on the egregious injustice that took the life of George Floyd and triggered the worst riots seen in America in decades.
As I write this, the American president is calling for a strong, possibly even military defense to end the violence, rioting and lawlessness that gripped our cities. It does not help my frame of mind at all that I came upon a letter to the editor published in a left-leaning New Hampshire newspaper. The writer asserts:
- “I disagree that U.S. military aggression is honorable or effective. The U.S. … has wasted trillions of dollars in borrowed money to kill, maim, impoverish and displace millions of innocent people…” (Arthur Brennan, The Concord Monitor)
The author of the letter is retired NH Superior Court Judge Arthur Brennan, the same judge who, with no evidence at all, displaced at least one innocent person’s life with a prison sentence of 67 years after the accused refused a plea bargain offer to serve only one year. That person was me.
So yes, I, too, am angry beyond words about what befell George Floyd, and at a system that allows a police officer who amassed 18 abuse complaints in his record — as is reportedly the case Officer Derek Chauvin – to continue in a position of power. I watched, for at least the fifth time, as the news media hyped the nine minute video of this poor man dying before our eyes.
Most of the 24/7 news media covering this story have omitted certain inconvenient truths. Minneapolis is a progressive city with a liberal Democrat government. The previous 18 complaints filed against Officer Derek Chauvin were filed away beyond public scrutiny because its police union, like many civil service unions in liberal cities, protects its members against public oversight and accountability by amassing political clout.
Minneapolis has seen more than 2,600 complaints lodged against its police officers since 2012. Only 12 have resulted in disciplinary action. This “progressive” city’s income gap between white and African-American households is among the widest in the country, says Wall Street Journal columnist William A. Galston in “I’ve Never Been so Afraid for America” (wsj.com, June 3, 2020).
A SPIRITUAL ICON IN A CITY UNDER SIEGE
Just days before writing this, I listened as President Trump addressed the nation from outside the White House. He spoke of the difference between legitimate protests and riots, citing the fact that this nation has a long and formidable history of protecting our citizens’ right to protest. But no nation should be held hostage by riots and mob rule.
The President called upon state governors to empower the National Guard to protect innocent civilians and property, and said he will empower the military if necessary using the rarely cited Insurrection Act. There has been a lot of controversy about his strong stance against the violence which some in the news media falsely report as a stance against protesters in general.
President Trump had a very busy June 2. Earlier that day, he and Melania Trump visited the St. John Paul II Shrine in Washington, DC where he signed an Executive Order calling for a guarantee of religious liberty in America and internationally. The visit had been planned in advance and had no connection to the protests and riots that gripped Washington and other cities.
After his appearance at the White House on June 2nd, the President then appeared in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church, a Washington, D.C. historical and spiritual landmark that was attacked by a destructive mob on the night before. Within minutes CNN was reporting that the President had innocent protesters attacked with tear gas and rubber bullets to clear them away so he “could have a ‘photo op’ in front of the church.”
Others echoed the CNN version, some verbatim. One outspoken detractor who entered the partisan fray was Washington’s Catholic Archbishop Wilton Gregory. He criticized the President’s use of a sacred site – the St. John Paul II Shrine – for “a political event,” and went on to chastise the President for using force on protesters to clear the way for “a photo opportunity” at the Episcopal church.
It seemed lost on Archbishop Gregory that signing the long planned International Declaration on Religious Freedom at the St. John Paul II Shrine had immense symbolic meaning for Catholics and all those oppressed by attacks on religious freedom across the globe. With help, I posted a rebuttal at the Catholic News Agency Facebook Group for which I am a member and contributor:
- “With respect to Archbishop Gregory, I interpreted the President’s appearance at St. John’s Episcopal church very differently. His presence at the heavily damaged church was for the purpose of showing the nation its boarded up windows and other damage left in the wake of a lawless mob. Archbishop Gregory must have been watching CNN because he drew the same conclusion using the same words. Having faced Communism and heroically confronted its grip on the people of Europe, I believe St. John Paul II would be among the first to say that a free nation cannot tolerate the anarchy of a lawless mob manipulated by nefarious agendas pulling its strings.”
All this chaos has thrust America into darkness in a presidential election year which has itself become part of the chaos. The combined elements of a Covid-19 pandemic, out of control race riots in the streets, and a deeply divided and divisive political arena have left America at a tipping point. Many fear that we are seeing the unraveling of culture and civilization as we know it. But this has all happened before, and not so long ago.
A LITTLE HISTORY GOES A LONG WAY TOWARD PERSPECTIVE
I turned 15 years old on April 9, 1968. The nation was in smoldering ruins because, just five days previously on April 4, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated by a sniper bullet. In the days to follow, the tragedy resulted in national shock and anger spawning massive protests which evolved into riots in more than 100 U.S. cities. President Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat, invoked the Insurrection Act to empower the military to restore order to the cities. No one called it unconstitutional.
Long after the riots were quelled, King’s life came to represent African American courage and achievement, high moral leadership, and the ability of Americans to overcome racial divisions. His soaring rhetoric calling for racial justice and an integrated society became almost as familiar to subsequent generations of Americans as the Declaration of Independence. I have written several tributes to him and his cause in these pages.
The rest of 1968 just continued the vortex of public anxiety, rioting and destruction that were actually far worse than what we are seeing now. The Presidential election of 1968 was so divisive and contentious that the nation seemed on the verge of civil war. As the war in Vietnam was rapidly escalating, the TET Offensive resulted in a small U.S. victory at the cost of tens of thousands of young American lives – both black and white because war is color blind just as all America should be.
In 1968 this was all politicized in a Presidential election year just as the current storms are today. Lyndon B. Johnson, who pushed through the late John F. Kennedy’s signature agenda, the Civil Rights Act, decided not to run for reelection. JFK’S brother, Robert Kennedy threw his hat in the ring after some of the major primaries were already fought unseating the liberal Senator Eugene McCarthy as the leading Democrat.
Bobby Kennedy was then assassinated on June 6, 1968 just four days after winning the California primary and becoming the presumptive Democratic nominee. It was the nation’s second major assassination in three months, and it again blew the lid off America’s self-restraint.
The Democratic National Convention of 1968 was held in Chicago where it erupted in unprecedented violence between mobs of rioters and police. Inside the convention hall, delegates debated the party’s position on the Vietnam War. Outside, supporters of the anti-Vietnam War movement clashed with police in the streets. Millions of Americans watched as the drama outside the Convention overshadowed what was happening inside. What they saw on their television screens was demoralizing.
The convention was supposed to renominate President Lyndon Johnson, but he shocked the nation on March 31 by announcing that he would not run for reelection. Johnson had thrown his support to Vice President Hubert Humphrey who had been favored to win among Convention delegates despite the fact that Bobby Kennedy won much of the popular vote in the primaries before his death.
On the night Hubert Humphrey was nominated, the Democratic National Convention was under siege. Protesters clogged the streets and started taunting police who violently attacked the mobs in an effort to clear the streets. They threw tear gas, clubbed and arrested not only protesters but reporters, camera operators, and bystanders. Protesters chanted, “The whole world is watching,” as television cameras broadcast the violence to millions of Americans shocked by what their country was becoming.
And in the strangest twist from what is happening today in 2020, it was Democrat Hubert Humphrey who called for a strong law and order response to the riots in 1968, and the possibility of using the Insurrection Act for the military to restore order. The Democrats’ weak response to disorder paved the way to a November 1968 Republican victory and the election of President Richard Nixon.
IN 2020, A NEWS MEDIA THAT FANS THE FLAMES
The word “anarchy”, coming to us through the Latin from the Greek αναρχία has been tossed around a lot in all this. Anarchy literally means “without a ruler.” It refers to agendas that disrupt politics with chaos. There has been evidence of anarchy and the conspiracy of anarchists in the riots that have overtaken peaceful protests across America.
This has included rampant manipulation of the demonstrations and protests by organized anarchists. New York Governor Cuomo stated, for example, that a construction site was burglarized but all that was stolen were the bricks. The piles of bricks were then counted out and stored ahead of time at strategic points along a planned protest route by unknown parties. On CNN, I witnessed an agitator herding groups of protesters toward a CNN TV camera in what appeared to be a choreographed demonstration of violence.
Police in multiple cities have reported that groups of young agitators, both black and white, have staked out protest routes during the day and then returned at night for pre-planned looting raids on specific storefronts and other businesses. This has not been the work of peaceful protesters, many of whom – again both black and white – have been seen trying to protect people and businesses from marauding looters.
Five police officers doing their duty have been killed by mobs. A 77-year-old retired African American police captain was murdered as he tried to stop an attack on an innocent woman. This has all happened in the streets of America while some of the 24/7 news outlets have omitted such footage. In Democrat controlled Minneapolis, police officers just stood and watched as massive looting and assaults took place before their eyes. They simply did not know what to do.
News organizations resist being called “left of center” because they believe they are the center. Their open loathing of the current president since his lawful election in 2016 has pushed the media even further left beyond a mere liberal agenda toward socialism. CNN and MSNBC have developed a brand characterized as “The Resistance” in its opposition to Trump.
This is now so ingrained in their news reporting that they would risk viewer ire and advertising dollars just by reporting with fairness and equity anything regarding Donald Trump. They – and several print outlets like The New York Times and The Washington Post – are sacrificing journalistic ethics, respect, and credibility for their sacred mission: to rid the nation of the President it lawfully elected. They have become uninterested in their own bias in favor of their real mission – to “get Trump.”
One candidate has shamelessly turned the anxiety and anger of African Americans into a source of political points. Some of these points would be highly insulting if not drowned out by the sheer noise of people on the edge. In a radio interview, former Vice President Joe Biden responded to a simple question. Asked if he had an agenda for black voters who feel that politicians take them for granted, Mr. Biden launched this incoherent rant with racially demeaning overtones:
- “What would I say? Remember when I said Biden can’t win? The primaries? I kicked everybody’s ass. Excuse me, I won overwhelming. I won a larger share of the black vote than anybody has including Barack. Look, what people don’t know about me is I come from a state has the eighth largest black population in America, eighth largest! I got 96-percent of that vote for the last forty years. They’re the folks what brung me to the dance! That’s how I get elected every single time and everybody’s shocked.”
Aside from the fact that Joe Biden comes from Delaware which has the nation’s thirty-third largest black population, not the eighth, the lack of any coherent response to the initial question is disturbing. But there are other elements here that should be far more disturbing for black voters. African Americans represent just 12.5 percent of the U.S. population, but 40 percent of the U.S. prison population. This is not the work of President Trump.
Racial disparities in prison sentencing have been unaddressed for decades, and Joe Biden himself created some of these disparities according to a compelling article in the left-leaning Prison Legal News. The article, by David M. Reutter, is “Biden’s Current Prison Reform Stance Counter to His Abysmal Record.”
Black Lives Matter! Indeed, they do. Black infant lives matter, too. This nation’s African-American population should by now be about ten percentage points higher than it is. This is driven by agendas far more nefarious than economics. In some traditionally liberal Democrat districts such as New York City, African American abortions have exceeded live births for the first time in history. This, too, is not the work of President Trump. [ Editor: see http://blackgenocide.org/home.html ]
In a recent interview, Mr. Biden stated rather alarmingly that “this country is crying out for leadership that can unite us.” Mr Biden then referred to African American communities as having “a knee on their neck for a long time.” This is not the language of unity the nation needs right now. Not exactly the bridge-building America needs at this moment as history repeats itself.
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Note from Father Gordon MacRae: We invite you to Subscribe to These Stone Walls, and Like and Follow us on Facebook. It is Father’s Day in America this week. Do you wonder where all the fathers of the brick-throwing disaffected youths rioting on America’s streets are? Some answers may be found in these two related posts which happen to be the two most-read and shared posts ever to appear on These Stone Walls:
- In the Absence of Fathers: A Story of Elephants and Men
- Planned Parenthood: An American Horror Story