“If it be asked, What is the most sacred duty and the greatest source of our security in a Republic? The answer would be, An inviolable respect for the Constitution and Laws — the first growing out of the last.” —Alexander Hamilton (1794)
IN TODAY’S DIGEST
- No, Rayshard Brooks Is Not Another George Floyd
- Clueless in Seattle
- De-Unionize Police and All Other Public-Sector Employees
- Decline of Some Churches, Not of Christianity
- Daily Features: News Executive Summary, Videos, Best of Right Opinion, Short Cuts, Memes, and Cartoons.
One incident is not like the other, but that fact doesn’t matter to those promoting the fallacious narrative of “systemic racism” among America’s police. Last Friday in Atlanta, officers responded to a call of a man asleep in his car in a Wendy’s drive-through lane. When the first officer arrived, he found a black man, Rayshard Brooks, asleep in his running vehicle and proceeded to awaken him. The officer was respectful and cordial, guiding Brooks to move his vehicle out of the drive-through lane and into a parking spot. He continued to question Brooks and, after a second officer arrived on scene, gave Brooks a breathalyzer test — which he failed. The officers then placed Brooks under arrest, but when they attempted to handcuff him, he suddenly struggled and fought back. In the scuffle on the ground, Brooks grabbed one of the officers’ tasers, punched him, and fled. Both officers gave pursuit and Brooks turned to fire the taser at one of them; the officer fired his sidearm three times at Brooks and brought him down. Brooks later died from the gunshot wounds while in surgery at the hospital. It’s a tragic death that would have been avoided if Brooks hadn’t resisted arrest.
Since both officers involved in the incident were white, unsurprisingly, it has been used by the social-justice mob and Black Lives Matter activists as “evidence” underscoring their false “systemic racism” narrative. Helping to feed that dubious narrative, Atlanta Democrat Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced that the city’s police chief, Erika Shields, had stepped down. She also called for the officer who shot Brooks to be fired, saying, “I do not believe that this was a justified use of deadly force and have called for the immediate termination of the officer.” Indeed, the officer, Garrett Rolfe, has been fired and could face murder charges; the other officer has been reassigned.
The Wendy’s restaurant where the incident took place was later burned down by rioters.
Body-camera footage has been released, as has a recording from a Wendy’s security camera. Both clearly show that Brooks acted as the aggressor. Some argue that Rolfe’s use of deadly force was not justified given the fact that Brooks brandished and shot a taser, which many view as nonlethal, and that Rolfe went beyond use of deadly force protocols. However, the Atlanta Police Department manual states that an officer may use deadly force when “he or she reasonably believes that the suspect possesses a deadly weapon or any object, device, or instrument which, when used offensively against a person, is likely to or actually does result in serious bodily injury and when he or she reasonably believes that the suspect poses an immediate threat of serious bodily injury to the officer or others.”
What will be argued is whether Officer Rolfe’s threat assessment was justified. We think it was. Moreover, what is also clear from the footage is that race had nothing to do with the officers’ actions. Anyone who struggles with an arresting officer, grabs the officer’s weapon (whether considered lethal or not), and proceeds to run while firing it at the officer would have met a similar fate. This was an instance where the cops were simply trying to do their job in the way they had been trained. A seemingly benign situation suddenly was escalated into a life-and-death struggle by Brooks, not by the arresting officers.
It’s worth pondering that if George Floyd had been arrested by these two Atlanta officers, he’d still be alive today.
Unfortunately, when the popular narrative of “racist police” has trumped the facts, is it any wonder police officers across the nation are deciding that it’s not worth it and are resigning?
As the hostile takeover of Seattle’s six-block capitol district continues without an end in sight, we can’t help but wonder what message it sends to other “protesters” nationwide.
We’re reminded of what former NYPD Commissioner Howard Safir called the tipping point of the Minneapolis mayhem that began three weeks ago and spread across the land: the moment when the city’s liberal mayor offered his police department’s third precinct as a sacrifice to the mob. It was “the absolute wrong signal,” said Safir. “The message that it sent … was, ‘You can do whatever you want, and we’re not going to do anything about it. Weakness never works in these kinds of situations.’”
To be sure, Seattle’s anarchists seem a bit more civilized than the Minneapolis mob, preferring the spray can to the Molotov cocktail. Still, Safir is spot-on. If history has taught us anything, it’s that weakness is provocative. And so it has the opposite effect: It doesn’t assuage; it only emboldens and encourages.
Our Thomas Gallatin, who covered the Seattle story last week, put the Emerald City’s predicament in a nutshell: “Seattle’s leaders are fearful of running afoul of the anti-police sentiments roiling the country and are essentially at a loss as to how to respond.”
Little has changed since then. If anything, it’s gotten worse in the so-called Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone. The city’s inept mayor, Jenny Durkan, seems to fully support the mob, calling this hostile takeover “patriotic.” Asked when she thought the occupation would end, she gushed, “We could have a summer of love!”
Careful what you wish for, Jenny.
Setting aside the terrible message being sent by the city’s elected leaders to aspiring anarchists, what might Seattle’s unwillingness to enforce its laws be saying to business owners and job seekers thinking of relocating to the city? Or to those considering a career in law enforcement?
We can tell you what they’re thinking: Not Seattle.
“Progressives” are, no doubt, hoping for a peaceful resolution, but that might be wishful thinking. It’s hard to look at the occupiers’ nutty manifesto and its 30 undemocratic demands and see even a tiny parcel of common ground.
For example: “The Seattle Police Department and attached court system are beyond reform. We do not request reform, we demand abolition. We demand that the Seattle Council and the Mayor defund and abolish the Seattle Police Department and the attached Criminal Justice Apparatus. This means 100% of funding, including existing pensions for Seattle Police. At an equal level of priority we also demand that the city disallow the operations of ICE in the city of Seattle.”
Or this: “We demand a retrial of all People in Color currently serving a prison sentence for violent crime, by a jury of their peers in their community.”
Or this: “We demand the hospitals and care facilities of Seattle employ black doctors and nurses specifically to help care for black patients.”
What is it, anyway, about liberal, lily-white Seattle and its pseudo-support of Black Lives Matter? Rapper Raz Simone, the self-styled leader of this mob, must feel a bit out of place, given that the city’s once-vibrant black community has been squeezed down to just 5.6% of the metropolitan area’s total population. (Seattle is number 47 among the nation’s 49 largest metropolitan areas ranked by black population, ahead of only San Diego and Phoenix.)
Perhaps Seattle’s pale-faced young masses are suffering from a collective case of white guilt.
Finally, can you imagine if a group of young, polite, clean-shaven Christians had taken over Seattle’s Capitol Hill area and declared a “Christian Autonomous Zone”? Gary Bauer can.
“Suppose they blocked off streets and shut down the local abortion clinic,” Bauer said. “Suppose they announced that you could only stay there if you fly the American flag, own a gun and that schools will begin the day with a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. My friends, the tanks would already be on their way to crush this secessionist movement.”
In light of the furor surrounding George Floyd’s death, it’s time to examine the one entity in every big city that incentivizes mediocrity at best and outright failure, sometimes criminal failure, at worst: Public-service employee unions.
Let’s begin with a reality check. Broad-brushing entire police forces in a given area, or law-enforcement officers in general, as trigger-happy bigots is a monstrous lie that anyone with an ounce of integrity would thoroughly denounce. Unfortunately for the Democrat Party and its equally repugnant progressive cheerleaders — for whom the acquisition and maintenance of power by any means necessary is all that matters — integrity left the building a long time ago. Their capitulation to the worst elements of our society, from allowing their own cities to be burned and looted to the establishment of a de facto country in the midst of American city, epitomizes sheer cowardice inspired by ideological bankruptcy.
Cowardice that makes one thing abundantly clear: A vote for the Democrat Party is a vote for anarchy presented as “social justice.”
Ironically, it is those same Democrat-controlled cities and states where public-service unions, including police unions, flourish most. So much so that states like New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and California are facing catastrophic funding shortages for the simplest of reasons — no one represents the public’s interest at the bargaining table. On one side there is the union representative. On the other is the politician more than willing to serve that union’s interests in return for the votes of its members and union campaign contributions.
This budget-busting dynamic has been the status quo for decades.
More important, public unions are anathema to the public interest by definition. A union exists solely to serve the interests of its members. Thus, even under the best of circumstances, what the public wants comes second, if it comes at all.
And it’s not just police unions where the status quo is a serious problem. As Walter Williams explains, “Democratic-controlled cities have the poorest-quality public education despite their large, and growing, school budgets.”
How poor? Williams cites the devastation in cities like Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Detroit, where the overwhelming majority of students are incapable of reading or doing math at grade levels. “It’s the same story of academic disaster in other cities run by Democrats,” he adds.
It isn’t hard to understand why. The two largest teachers’ unions, National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), have given Democrats at least 94% of the funds they’ve contributed to candidates and parties since at least 1990.
That the same kids who are shortchanged are the ones likely to view society with the kind of contempt that could precipitate anti-social behavior or rank criminality? Democrats and teachers’ unions apparently view this tragedy as a reasonable tradeoff for maintaining their unholy alliance.
The same dynamic applies to police unions. In a paper for the Stanford Law Review, scholar Katherine Bies explains that the increasing political power of police unions beginning in the 1970s has engendered a lack of public unaccountability. “Police unions have established highly developed political machinery that exerts significant political and financial pressure on all three branches of government,” Bies writes. “The power of police unions over policymakers in the criminal justice context distorts the political process and generates political outcomes that undermine the democratic values of transparency and accountability.”
As a result, punishment of excessive force is rare. A 2017 report by the American Constitution Society reveals that 54 officers nationwide “were criminally charged after they shot and killed someone in the line of duty” from 2005 to 2017. Of those 54, only 13 officers were “convicted of murder or manslaughter for a fatal, on-duty shooting.” As of April 2015, 21 of those officers had been acquitted, 11 were convicted, and the other 22 cases were pending or filed as “other.”
The report added that the “high acquittal rate is perhaps even more troubling given that in 80 percent of these cases, one of the following occurred: there was a video recording of the incident, the victim was shot in the back, other officers testified against the shooter, or a cover-up was alleged.”
Video recordings, usually by cellphone, “are game changers,” according to Andy Skoogman, executive director of the Minnesota Chiefs of Police. “They weed out the bad apples. Video is definitely the key in this case as it is in so many other cases in this day and age.”
Yet as columnist John Fund reveals, “Jim Pasco, the 73-year-old executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, the nation’s largest police union, with 342,000 members, is a clear obstacle to transparency. Pasco believes that it should be illegal for someone to record cops with their cellphones.”
Pasco’s rationale? “At some point, we have to put some faith and trust in our authority figures,” he told Reason magazine in 2010.
Which authority figures would those be? As Americans have learned in the last three years alone, corruption extends to the highest levels of federal law enforcement and the judiciary. And until the public sees accountability for what is arguably the biggest scandal in our nation’s history, Americans’ cynicism with regard to “faith and trust in our authority figures” will remain unchecked — among all ethnicities on both sides of the political divide.
How do we fix the problem of rogue cops? “The first big step toward individual accountability is to break the power of police unions over the investigation and discipline of individual officers,” columnist Dan MacLaughlin asserts. “Conservatives have long argued that unions in general tend to hamstring employers in distinguishing between good and bad employees, and ultimately lead to collective rather than individual responsibility.”
Jody Armour, a law professor at the University of Southern California, echoes that sentiment. “There are so many terms and conditions in the collective bargaining agreements that insulate police from accountability and transparency,” she explains. “Can we know who the bad police are? Are there public records? A lot of times, that is squelched in collective bargaining.”
There are some conservatives who believe defunding or eliminating police unions would cede the last supposed bastion of conservatism to the Left. Yet as this graph from OpenSecrets.org reveals, more Democrats than Republicans received campaign contributions from police officers, police unions, and law-enforcement PACs. Moreover, other public-sector unions overwhelmingly support Democrats.
Getting rid of all public-sector unions would go a long way toward restoring sanity and balance in a nation besieged by leftist propaganda. Even better, it poses a serious conundrum for a Democrat Party that wants to defund police forces, even as it would be decimated without those unions’ campaign contributions.
Merit and competence matter. Public unions are the antithesis of both.
Along with the bad health and economic effects of COVID-19, we must also admit that our churches have not been immune to the viral impact.
The Washington Examiner looked recently at two of the nation’s largest Protestant denominations — the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and the United Methodist Church (UMC) — as big organizations with declining memberships and corresponding revenues in the collection plates. For the UMC, the transcendence of culture over Christ and the acceptance of various unbiblical lifestyle choices has led to fewer members, which, in turn, has resulted in a reduction in giving. The SBC, a far more conservative and evangelical denomination, is fighting to stave off the same trend.
A 2018 published review of Harvard University research reveals growth in Christianity overall, but membership in key denominations is eroding. In 1989, 39% percent of those who belonged to an organized religion cited their strong beliefs and practices. In the 2018 analysis, those surveyed with the same responses had increased to 47%. This paradox can be blamed as much on the church itself as on society redefining the meaning of sinful behavior. Add mandatory lockdowns to these difficult times and the mainline denominational church has found itself in even greater jeopardy.
Morality is often defined now by popular opinion instead of legitimate standards and truths that have transcended time. If virtue is situational and left to personal interpretation, there is no basis of truth, standard of decency, or order of law. Mainline religions have been infected with this contagion of moral relativism, and if new seekers hear the same thing in a community of faith that they hear at a local bar or social club, why bother going to church? People are not leaving Christianity; people are leaving mainline denominational organizations that alter their teachings based on culture.
The Baylor Institute of Studies of Religion has tracked church attendance to be four times greater in modern days than in America’s founding when men and women were seeking authentic religious freedom. Today there is a movement of individuals leaving congregations that reflect elastic ethics of civic secularism to attend churches offering practical teachings founded in Scripture that can provide encouragement and support in uncertain, trying days.
As the COVID-19 pandemic keeps cities closed, mainline churches are squeezed as parishioners hang on to their gifts and offerings. But in the communities of faith rooted in evangelism and the belief that Christ is above culture, growth prevails. As Glenn Stanton, writing in The Federalist in January 2018, summed up, “It is extremely likely that if your church teaches the Bible with seriousness, calls its people to real discipleship, and encourages daily intimacy with God, it has multiple services to handle the coming crowds.”
Serious times call for serious answers. Americans are not finding answers among their political leaders. Americans are not even finding answers in some churches that parrot pundits. Christianity holds the key for unity, truth, and wholeness. If Americans are able to find the simple Gospel taught, they’ll find the answers.
More Great Analysis
West Point Graduates Encouraged by Trump — excerpts of the president’s commencement address.
No Wrongthink Allowed, says Thomas Gallatin regarding a church losing a lease over the “wrong” social-media “likes.”
J. Adams Clymer says it’s time to Hang Tough Together.
Above the Fold
“The Minneapolis City Council on Friday unanimously passed a resolution to pursue a community-led public safety system to replace the police department following the death of George Floyd at the hands of the city’s police,” Reuters reports, further noting, “According to the resolution, the city council will begin a year-long process of engaging ‘with every willing community member in Minneapolis’ to come up with a new public safety model.” Meanwhile, “At least seven Minneapolis police officers have resigned … and more than half a dozen are in the process of leaving,” The Hill reveals. Understandably, “Officers are feeling misunderstood and stuck in the middle of a state probe, protests, city leaders and the media.”
On a positive note, The Daily Signal says: “Federal health officials announced a final rule Friday scrapping an Obama-era regulation that forced medical workers to perform abortions despite their religious beliefs. The Obama administration’s 2016 regulation, already vacated by a court ruling, also redefined sex-based discrimination in health care to include questions of gender identity. The old rule would have imposed nearly $3 billion in costs on the economy, the Department of Health and Human Services said in announcing the change. Prompted by the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, the rule had not been implemented after being halted in court.”
Government & Politics
Explaining that “Many of my African American friends and supporters have reached out to suggest that we consider changing the date out of respect for” Juneteenth, Trump delays Tulsa rally until June 20 (Fox News)
Remarks by President Trump to the West Point Class of 2020 (Whitehouse.gov)
Joe Biden conditions support of reparations on provisions for Native Americans (Washington Examiner)
Biden is demanding that Facebook fact-check political ads. Facebook says no. (Business Insider)
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says White House “seriously considering” second round of direct-payment coronavirus relief (The Daily Caller)
John Hickenlooper fined by Colorado Ethics Committee for accepting gifts while governor (The Federalist)
Culture & Heartland
Atlanta police officer fired, another reassigned after black man is fatally shot (Fox News)
Ben Carson says Rayshard Brooks case “not clear-cut” like George Floyd’s (AJC)
Confusion reigns as Seattle’s seized six blocks known as CHAZ purportedly changes name to CHOP (Fox News)
Black Lives Matter protesters say Seattle’s autonomous zone has hijacked message (Fox News)
Protesters in Asheville, Portland, Nashville, and Chicago try to create autonomous zones. Police aren’t having it. (The Daily Wire)
Citing the “political climate,” 10 members of the Hallandale Beach Police Department SWAT team voluntarily resign (WPEC)
“Repentance is not enough”? Left-leaning Christianity Today calls on churches to lead on reparations (Fox News)
Camden, New Jersey, removes Christopher Columbus statue (Fox News)
Business & Economy
Trump admin considers months-long suspension of work visas (The Daily Caller)
Fed-up black business owners wrestle with “defund the police” (Washington Examiner)
Starbucks caves to Social Justice Warriors, will allow employees to wear Black Lives Matter clothing after boycott campaign (National Review)
More than 1,300 Chinese medical suppliers falsified registration information to sell in the U.S. (Washington Examiner)
Amazon is fielding probes from California and Washington over trade practices (Gizmodo)
Oregon governor temporarily halts state’s reopening (The Daily Caller)
Illegal immigration rose nearly 40% amid coronavirus reopenings (The Washington Times)
“Faded away into a dark nightmare”: North Korea says diplomacy with Trump has failed (USA Today)
Zoom acknowledges that it suspended activists’ accounts at the ChiComs’ request (NPR)
Seattle’s “autonomous zone” and the Paris Commune of 1871 are ominously similar (Foundation for Economic Education)
Study finds mask-wearing “most effective means to prevent interhuman transmission” (Washington Examiner)
Beijing district in “wartime emergency” after virus spike shuts market (CNBC)
London police call for protest ban after 23 officers injured during demonstrations (Washington Examiner)
Policy: Is Black Lives Matter an idea or an organization? (National Review)
Policy: Democrats accidentally make the case against teachers’ unions (Issues & Insights)
Humor: Protesters pull down Joe Biden after mistaking him for old racist statue (The Babylon Bee)
Related humor: Protesters tear down statue of Michael Jackson after pictures of him wearing blackface surface (Genesius Times)
For more of today’s editors’ choice headlines, visit In Our Sights.
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Video: Merriam-Webster Changing the Definition of Racism — A large amount of people think that black people cannot be racist because they do not have “power.”
Video: The Left’s Lies About Columbus — “The historical context of the time is critical if we’re trying to paint the character of Christopher Columbus.”
Video: Shelby Steele Questions Motives, Goals of Floyd Protests —The current protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death have no clear objective.
Video: Natalie Portman Advocates for Defunding the Police — Multimillionaire actress Natalie Portman has now joined the calls to defund the police across the country.
For more of today’s columns, visit Right Opinion.
Insight: “The fate of the country does not depend on how you vote at the polls — the worst man is as strong as the best at that game; it does not depend on what kind of paper you drop into the ballot-box once a year, but on what kind of man you drop from your chamber into the street every morning.” —Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
Upright: “Saying ‘systemic racism’ is at play actually gives government too much of a pass. The failure has a lot to do with deciding a government in Washington can fix the problems of Atlanta or Chicago or Lake Charles. Then there is the failure of thinking a bunch of politicians are going to truly fix a problem when they could instead let it fester and use that to maintain power.” —Erick Erickson
Political futures: “If Trump loses in November, it won’t be because he pursued a big legislative reform that was a bridge too far politically. It won’t be because he adopted an unorthodox policy mix that alienated his own side. It won’t even be because he was overwhelmed by events, challenging though they’ve been. It will mostly be because he took his presidency and drove it into the ground, 280 characters at a time.” —Rich Lowry
For the record I: “If senators want to kneel for nine minutes as an act of contrition, that’s their choice. It is my choice to be embarrassed for them. There is a yawning difference between having a desire to fix the wrongs of the past and taking responsibility for them. Kneeling in front of your fellow citizens in cult-like displays of self-flagellation, the kind we saw in Bethesda and North Carolina, where white people begged for absolution while washing the feet of their black neighbors, is antithetical to the egalitarian ideals we should be striving to achieve.” —David Harsanyi
For the record II: “Most Americans have historical grievances, or we wouldn’t be here in the first place. … If you have policy ideas that will make life better in African American communities that have been left behind in this country, let’s talk about it. Let’s end qualified immunity. Let’s end the drug war. Let’s end mandatory minimums. Let’s end the power of police unions that protect the worst offenders and teachers’ unions that keep poor black kids in failing schools. Let’s find ways to create more economic opportunities. We can do all of that without condemning our country as fundamentally unjust.” —David Harsanyi
Friendly fire: “You should know: leaving the precinct was not my decision. We fought for days to protect it. I asked you to stay on that line, day in and day out, to be pelted with projectiles, to be screamed at, threatened, and in some cases, hurt. Then, to have a change of course, nearly two weeks in, it seems like an insult to you and our community. … I am angry about how this all came about. I understand that my comments and this message may be leaked to the public, but I’m not concerned about that. I stand by what I’m saying.” —Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best
Grand delusions: “When you defend so-called ‘biological sex,’ you sound scientifically ignorant and you elevate transphobia.” —George Takei
Non compos mentis: “You can’t really reform a [police] department that is rotten to the root. What you can do is rebuild. And so this is our opportunity, you know, as a city to come together, have the conversation of what public safety looks like, who enforces the most dangerous crimes that take place in our community.” —Representative Ilhan Omar
And last… “The president moving the [rally] date by a day once he was informed on what Juneteenth was — that was a good decision on his part.” —Senator Tim Scott
For more of today’s memes, visit the Memesters Union.
For more of today’s cartoons, visit the Cartoons archive.
Join us in prayer for our Patriots in uniform and their families — Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen — standing in harm’s way, and for our nation’s First Responders. We also ask prayer for your Patriot team, that our mission would seed and encourage the Spirit of Liberty in the hearts and minds of our countrymen.
Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis