This seems (a) rudimentarily true and (b) not something you’d expect to hear from Trump’s VP-in-waiting the day after five cops were murdered by a black nationalist. Trump himself took an uncharacteristically judicious line in his own statement this morning, calling the Sterling and Castile shootings “senseless” and “tragic” and asking for “love and compassion” to help heal a racially divided country. The money line, though, was this: “We must restore law and order. We must restore the confidence of our people to be safe and secure in their homes and on the street.” That’s the message you’d expect a strongman with an overwhelmingly white base to emphasize after an anti-white attack: I’ll protect you from crazed black activists. Now here’s Newt, who might well be running the government next year as Trump’s right-hand man, countering with a different message: Black activists have a point that’s worth considering, provided it’s expressed without violence. Huh.
The key bits come at 3:30 and 11:25 of the clip below. Transcripts via Twitter:
Gingrich: "sometimes for whites it’s difficult to appreciate how real" being black in America is more dangerous pic.twitter.com/N8wFkR1Kue
— Alan He (@alanhe) July 8, 2016
— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) July 8, 2016
Matt Lewis made a similar point today about learning what interactions with cops can be like for blacks through the terrible magic of smartphone video:
This default assumption that the police officer was always right is, I’m sure, what a lot of well-meaning and decent middle class white people were raised to believe. Sure, there were incidents of police abuse, we were told, but those were very rare—and mostly happened in the Deep South. If you had to take someone’s word, you would always go with a police officer over the word of some random citizen (and, let’s be honest, for many Americans, this was especially true if that citizen was a minority).
It’s important to note that I’m not talking about overt racists here. Many of the white Americans who reflexively trusted cops would never personally discriminate against someone, nor would they use a racist slur. But they have outsourced their concerns about crime to the authorities, and part of the deal is that you don’t micromanage this work. It is understood that you may have to crack some eggs to make an omelette. And this was fine so long as they had plausible deniability.
Those days are gone.
It’s hard to fault blacks for fearing the police, adds Leon Wolf, when so few officers face legal consequences for killing suspects and so many whites, at least on the right, seem to hold “the blind, uncritical belief that the police never (or only in freak circumstances) do anything wrong.” I bet Newt would agree with all of that. What percentage of Trump voters would? I’m asking earnestly as I don’t know. It’s a myth that Trump fans are more authoritarian than, say, Cruz fans or Rubio fans are, so you wouldn’t expect them to have any sharper reflex to defend cops than other Republicans have. Where Trump fans do differ from other Republicans is in their anti-elitism and their disdain for “experts.” If Newt catches flak for this, it may be because he’s repeating points that are viewed as pieties of the elite political class, not because he’s being critical of the police per se.
It is a weird, weird thing, though to see him in “statesman” mode today after he spent the last 24 hours boasting that he convinced Trump to defend a Star of David image that his campaign lifted from alt-righters. Which role is he planning to play in the campaign, the enabler who eggs on Trump’s worst instincts or the “adult in the room” who balances Trump’s right-wing id with statements like this that defuse the left’s criticism that Trump is pushing mindless racism? Strategically the second role makes more sense. We’ll see.