Allahpundit covered the long expected decision last night, and you’ve all had plenty to say about it. Even as the violence and unrest continue, I wanted to take a few moments to examine some of the highly disturbing comments which were delivered by the President of the United States in the minutes following the announcement in Ferguson. To his credit, Barack Obama reiterated a call for restraint and a rejection of violence. This was both important and appropriate, not that it changed much of anything. It was only a matter of minutes before I was watching Jake Tapper choking on tear gas and looking as if he were about to cough up a lung.
Unfortunately, the President didn’t stop there, and his speech kept repeating a second message, more hinted at than directly stated. (Emphasis added.)
First and foremost, we are a nation built on the rule of law. And so, we need to accept that this decision was the grand jury’s to make. There are Americans who agree with it, and there are Americans who are deeply disappointed, even angry. It’s an understandable reaction…
Finally, we need to recognize that the situation in Ferguson speaks to broader challenges that we still face as a nation. The fact is in too many parts of this country a deep distrust exists between law enforcement and communities of color. Some of this is the result of the legacy of racial discrimination in this country. And this is tragic because nobody needs good policing more than poor communities with higher crime rates…
So, those should be the lessons that we draw from these tragic events. We need to recognize that this is not just an issue for Ferguson. This is an issue for America.
There’s more of this peppered throughout the speech, but I believe you’re getting the idea here. Yes, the President stated that the decision was the Grand Jury’s to make, but it was continually followed by caveats. There was another message in the way the President chose to frame his response:
The normal investigative process was followed, but you have a right to be angry. We had a months long investigation and mountains of evidence presented to a jury of your peers, but this was clearly a bad decision caused by the country’s legacy of racism. The evidence may have indicated that Officer Wilson acted within the framework of the law, but this isn’t just about one cop in Ferguson. White cops all over the country are out to get the black man and I’m sending Eric Holder to find out about it.
This is not a message of healing, nor is it a statement of support for the rule of law. That speech was a thinly veiled call to action, not to improve the nation, but to reinforce the idea that the legal system is not to be trusted. Barack Obama was telling everyone that you can have your day in court (or in this case, before a Grand Jury to decide if it even goes to court) but there is no reason for you to either trust or accept the results. If things don’t go the way you want, then it’s the courts that are wrong, not you. And when the legal dust settles, of course we don’t want any violence, but it’s completely understandable why you are so angry.
It sends a second message to Officer Darren Wilson and the rest of the first responders around the nation as well. If you are on the job in a community where you don’t belong because you don’t look like everyone you are protecting, you are a suspect by default in any controversial situation. And in a horrible case like this, even if a jury of your peers examines the evidence and finds that you were simply doing your job, your government will go out with a wink and a nod and tell everyone that you are probably still guilty. Also, your job will be forfeit and your life will be fundamentally changed because you will still be guilty in the court of public opinion. And nobody from the government is coming to your assistance. In fact, we’re going to throw you under the bus.
So why should you bother signing up to do this job in the first place? That’s probably a question a lot of cops are asking themselves this morning.