It had to happen sooner or later. In the land of the gun, when war seems to have been declared by unaccountable blue-uniformed thugs on unarmed Black babies, children, women and men, someone was going to react with violence. And someone did.
Ismaaiyl Brinsley, an African American, deliberately shot and killed two New York police officers, or, in his words, “put wings on pigs.” He has a considerable criminal history and possible undiagnosed mental problems.
The roof fell in. The Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, is being targeted by the police union, whose president, one Patrick Lynch, somehow managed to blame him for the killings. One can always count on the police, it seems, to issue calming words at moments of crisis. The substrate here, of course, is that de Blasio has a Black spouse and two brown children.
The social media mob is howling as well. Why, goes the shrieky refrain, aren’t there riots in the streets when two white police officers are killed?
Except that the victims weren’t white. One was Asian, the other, Hispanic. A minor detail that demolishes the Helter Skelter narrative.
Nope, these were not the opening shots of a race war, any more than the killer’s earlier attempt on the life of an ex-girlfriend was the beginning of armed conflict between the sexes.
The majority of cop killers (and these days, one has to disambiguate that phrase — I mean people who kill police officers) are white. One can draw no coherent conclusion from that bare fact, certainly not a racial one. Policing is dangerous work, and there will inevitably be casualties in the line of duty.
In this case, however, the shooter made his motives clear beforehand. The police as an institution was his target. He saw police — all police, regardless of race — as the collective enemy of Black people. He read and watched the same media as you or I. He saw the utter impunity with which white police officers casually gun down African Americans right across the U.S. Yet — and I find this striking — he did not racialize his anger by going after white police officers. He didn’t fall into the same trap, in other words, as too many commentators have, absurdly seeing here the beginning of some sort of apocalyptic anti-white resistance — The Turner Diaries in reverse.
For Brinsley, this was all about the structure of power. No one can morally justify what he did. But the root causes are obvious, Patrick Lynch’s stupid attempt at a diversion notwithstanding. The Mayor did not kill Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu by calling for better police/community relations. A crazed and angry man did, but one who saw things more clearly than those who insist that he was the sharp point of of some imagined anti-white bigotry at the core of the nationwide protests against white supremacy. The institutional racism of too many American police forces — ironically — has just claimed two more non-white lives.
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