Dallas and Progressive Moral Idiocy

Why black lives don't really matter to the Left.

Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center​.

The murder of five Dallas policemen at a protest march is the gruesome consequence of the rhetorical war on police being waged by the progressive race industry. The shooter, of course, bears the primary responsibility for the killings. But a climate of opinion makes such events more likely, and those who create such a climate are culpable as well.

The justification for the war on police is that they gun down unarmed black men out of racial animus. The 2014 police shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson Missouri sparked a nationwide movement predicated on this popular urban myth. The Black Lives Matter movement quickly came to national prominence, instigating protests over every police shooting of a black person, and popularizing their signature chant, “Hands up, don’t shoot.”  

Everything about this organization is based on a lie. Even Eric Holder’s politicized DOJ determined the Brown shooting was justified, and cleared the officer involved. Brown never put up his hands and said “Don’t shoot,” nor was he a “gentle giant,” as the race-baiters and media claimed. Nor is there an epidemic of racist police killings of unarmed blacks. More blacks than whites are killed relative to their population, but that’s a consequence of blacks being a much larger proportion of violent criminals. Race is not the issue: Whites and Hispanics are three times more likely to die at the hands of police than are blacks, and minority police officers are three times more likely to fire their weapons than are other cops. And a police officer is 2.5 times more likely to be killed by a black than he is to kill an unarmed black. 

Despite the empirically false claims of racist police murdering blacks, the myth has attracted support from government and media. A fish rots from the head down, as the proverb has it, and Barack Obama has set the tone. He has intruded himself into interracial incidents and police shootings of blacks, whether justified or not, stoking further the racial divisions he has exploited throughout his presidency. Obama called the police “stupid” in the Henry Louis Gates incident. He said if he had a son “he’d look like” Trayvon Martin, and said of the recent shooting in Minnesota that “there’s a big chunk of our citizenry that feels as if, because of the color of their skin, they are not being treated the same.” He also praised Black Lives Matter for doing “outstanding work,” and said that the arson and looting following the decision not to prosecute the policeman in Ferguson was “an understandable reaction” and that “the law too often feels like it’s being applied in a discriminatory fashion.”

So too Obama’s Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who in remarks on the Dallas murders couldn’t resist bringing up the recent shootings in Minnesota and Baton Rouge and promising a Civil Rights investigation. Of course, no such inquiry will follow the murders of the Dallas policemen, whom the killer explicitly said were targeted because of their race. Hillary jumped on the bandwagon as well, saying after Dallas, “Clearly, there seems to be a terrible disconnect between many police departments and officers and the people they have sworn to protect.”

And don’t forget how Hillary and Bill groveled and pandered shamelessly after Black Lives Matters folk chastised them for using the term “super predators.” Such deference gives credibility and stature to a group whose existence is based on a lie. 

Most despicably, after the Ferguson shooting Obama went before the UN and said,

I realize that America’s critics will be quick to point out that at times we too have failed to live up to our ideals; that America has plenty of problems within its own borders.  This is true.  In a summer marked by instability in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, I know the world also took notice of the small American city of Ferguson, Missouri — where a young man was killed, and a community was divided. 

This false equivalence between the justified shooting of a thug trying to kill a cop, and the jihadist terrorism roiling the Middle East, is the quintessence of moral idiocy. So too is Obama’s habit of never missing an opportunity to give credence to perceptions and propaganda, and then send his DOJ and FBI into communities to investigate and intimidate local police.

Morally idiotic too is the politicizing of the relatively rare killing of unarmed black men who are not resisting arrest, even as every year more blacks are killed by other blacks than were murdered during the whole history of racist lynching since Reconstruction. If black lives truly mattered, then there would be a national outcry from black politicians, intellectuals, and activists at this slaughter. The president and the Black Congressional Caucus would do more than recycle clichés, the DOJ would conduct investigations, and resources would be dedicated to law enforcement in cities like Chicago, Detroit, and Baltimore. Instead, in New York a progressive mayor has scaled back the proactive policing that significantly reduced gun violence against blacks, and nationwide the “Ferguson effect”––the reticence of police to risk their lives and careers just for doing their jobs––has resulted in more dead black people. 

Finally, there is the moral idiocy of exploiting such tragedies in order to promote the Democrats’ anti-gun hysteria that is predicated on outright lies. Thus Obama couldn’t help saying in response to the Dallas shootings, “We also know that when people are armed with powerful weapons, it makes shootings like this more deadly and more tragic.”  Likewise, Loretta Lynch said “we must take a hard look at the ease with which wrongdoers can get their hands on deadly weapons and the frequency with which they use them.” 

This old lie that lax gun laws are responsible for mass murders has been exploded for decades, and mountains of empirical data show that none of the proposed restrictions on gun ownership would have prevented any of the mass killings Democrats keep trying to leverage into weakening the Second Amendment. Meanwhile House Democrats who shrug off the mass slaughter of blacks in blue cities, pull stunts like the recent juvenile sit-in in the House chamber because they didn’t get the useless gun-control legislation they wanted. 

The progressive abandonment of moral coherence and sheer facts, of course, reflects political expediency. Manufacturing crises is what progressives have been doing for a hundred years. It’s how they justify eroding the rights of states and individuals, and magnifying the power of their party and the federal government. Activist groups like Black Lives Matter, just like the rest of the race industry, exploit the dysfunction and misery of the black underclass for political clout and profit. 

More important, the failures of progressive policies to do anything about the economic stagnation of blacks, the breakdown of the black family, the dysfunctional schools hostage to teachers’ unions, and the violent urban plantations in which many have to live are hidden by distractions like calling for useless gun control regulations, and hawking preposterous myths about racist police. Saying “black lives matter” while doing nothing to improve and save black lives is textbook moral idiocy.