Since last summer, a lie has overtaken significant parts of the country, resulting in growing mass hysteria. That lie holds that the police pose a mortal threat to black Americans—indeed that the police are the greatest threat facing black Americans today. Several subsidiary untruths buttress that central myth: that the criminal-justice system is biased against blacks; that the black underclass doesn’t exist; and that crime rates are comparable between blacks and whites—leaving disproportionate police action in minority neighborhoods unexplained without reference to racism. The poisonous effect of those lies has now manifested itself in the cold-blooded assassination of two NYPD officers....
But among all the posturers, none was so preening as New York’s Mayor Bill de Blasio. In advance of a trip to Washington for a White House summit on policing, he told the press that a “scourge” of killings by police is “based not just on decades, but centuries of racism.” De Blasio embroidered on that theme several days later, after a Staten Island grand jury declined to indict an officer for homicide in Garner’s death. (The 350-pound asthmatic Garner had resisted arrest for the crime of selling loose cigarettes; officers brought him to the ground, provoking a fatal heart attack.) “People are saying: ‘Black lives matter,’” de Blasio announced after the grand jury concluded. “It should be self-evident, but our history requires us to say ‘black lives matter.’ It was not years of racism that brought us to this day, or decades of racism, but centuries of racism.” De Blasio added that he worries “every night” about the “dangers [his biracial son Dante] may face” from “officers who are paid to protect him.”
The mayor’s irresponsible rhetoric was a violation of his role as the city’s leader and as its main exponent of the law. If he really believes that his son faces a significant risk from the police, he is ignorant of the realities of crime and policing in the city he was elected to lead. There is no New York City institution more dedicated to the proposition that “black lives matter” than the New York Police Department; thousands of black men are alive today who would have been killed years ago had data-driven policing not brought down the homicide levels of the early 1990s. The Garner death was a tragic aberration in a record of unparalleled restraint. The NYPD fatally shot eight individuals last year, six of them black, all posing a risk to the police, compared with scores of blacks killed by black civilians. But facts do not matter when crusading to bring justice to a city beset by “centuries of racism.”
Slowly but surely, the toxin of bias is being leached out of American culture, if incrementally and by degrees. A Catholic was elected president in 1960, and since then Catholic nominees and candidates have become commonplace. A Jew was nominated in 2000 for vice president, and was a help to his ticket. In 2004 and 2008 respectively, Joe Lieberman and Rudy Giuliani ran for president, and their names and religions did not become issues.
Over at Harper's, Jack Hitt has filed a report from the RNC convention, "A Troubling Chant on the Convention Floor." According to Hitt, nativist Republican delegates started chanting "USA! USA!" in response to a heavily accented speaker from Puerto Rico. Of course, racism had nothing to do with it, as Tim Carney explains:
Arkansas Democrat Gene Jeffress, who is running for Congress in Arkansas's Fourth District, offered a strange story about health care reform at a recent campaign stop. The video, picked up by Caleb Howe at RedState, contains some offensive language from Jeffress, who suggests that Republican opposition to universal health care is racist. Watch it below:
The tendency of liberals to define the Republican party, the conservative movement, and most recently the Tea Party movement as the latest iteration of the Old South has been persistent, if not always sane. It survived the failure to convince voters that Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush were political scions of Jefferson Davis, survived the appointment by George W.