This morning, I asked why Americans couldn’t wait for the facts to emerge on the shootings of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota before jumping to racial conclusions. This afternoon, America’s top Democratic politicians proved why: they need to race-bait.
Early this afternoon, without waiting to hear any of the evidence, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton called the shooting of Castile racist: “Would this have happened if the driver and the passengers where white? I don’t think it would have. This kind of racism exists and it’s incumbent on all of us to vow and ensure that it doesn’t continue to happen.”
President Obama also issued a racially inflammatory statement:
All Americans should be deeply troubled by the fatal shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. We've seen such tragedies far too many times, and our hearts go out to the families and communities who've suffered such a painful loss.
Although I am constrained in commenting on the particular facts of these cases, I am encouraged that the U.S. Department of Justice has opened a civil rights investigation in Baton Rouge, and I have full confidence in their professionalism and their ability to conduct a thoughtful, thorough, and fair inquiry.
But regardless of the outcome of such investigations, what's clear is that these fatal shootings are not isolated incidents. They are symptomatic of the broader challenges within our criminal justice system, the racial disparities that appear across the system year after year, and the resulting lack of trust that exists between law enforcement and too many of the communities they serve.
To admit we've got a serious problem in no way contradicts our respect and appreciation for the vast majority of police officers who put their lives on the line to protect us every single day. It is to say that, as a nation, we can and must do better to institute the best practices that reduce the appearance or reality of racial bias in law enforcement.
That's why, two years ago, I set up a Task Force on 21st Century Policing that convened police officers, community leaders, and activists. Together, they came up with detailed recommendations on how to improve community policing. So even as officials continue to look into this week's tragic shootings, we also need communities to address the underlying fissures that lead to these incidents, and to implement those ideas that can make a difference. That's how we'll keep our communities safe. And that's how we can start restoring confidence that all people in this great nation are equal before the law.
In the meantime, all Americans should recognize the anger, frustration, and grief that so many Americans are feeling -- feelings that are being expressed in peaceful protests and vigils. Michelle and I share those feelings. Rather than fall into a predictable pattern of division and political posturing, let's reflect on what we can do better. Let's come together as a nation, and keep faith with one another, in order to ensure a future where all of our children know that their lives matter.
This is nonsense. First off, there is no systematic pattern of black men being shot for racial reasons by law enforcement. One study at the Washington State University found that “even with white officers who do have racial biases, officers are three times less likely to shoot unarmed black suspects than unarmed white suspects.” And according to Professor Peter Moskos of John Jay College of Criminal Justice at City University of New York, “If one adjusts for the racial disparity in the homicide rate or the rate at which police are feloniously killed, whites are actually more likely to be killed by police than blacks… Adjusted for the homicide rate, whites are 1.7 times more likely than blacks die at the hands of police. Adjusted for the racial disparity at which police are feloniously killed, whites are 1.3 times more likely than blacks to die at the hands of police.”
Next, incompetence by cops does not automatically translate into racism. Police officers are frequently involved in controversial shootings. Sometimes, those shootings are egregiously bad. That still does not mean the officers in question hate black people – it could also mean they don’t know what they’re doing.
So while Obama calls for Americans to come together, he’s actually calling more racial division based on shoddy evidence. Obama says, “regardless of the outcome of such investigations, what's clear is that these fatal shootings are not isolated incidents. They are symptomatic of the broader challenges within our criminal justice system, the racial disparities that appear across the system year after year, and the resulting lack of trust that exists between law enforcement and too many of the communities they serve.” That’s a way of lumping together instances that are statistically isolated with a broader trend of incarceration of minorities disproportionate to the general population, but absolutely proportionate to commission of crime.
But facts don’t matter here. All that matters is whether Democrats can make hay by proclaiming – as always – that America and her cops are racist.