Last night was horrible. Just horrible. What I watched unfold on television shocked even my cynical self. Police officers gunned down in cold blood while protecting those who protested against them. Police running towards gunfire. An officer engaging the terrorist only to be murdered as cameras caught and broadcast his final moments.
What I saw was bravery. Officers put themselves in the line of fire to rescue their downed comrades, to protect citizens, and to pursue a heavily armed terrorist. Ask yourself if you would do the same?
What I saw was self-control and professionalism. Officers formed a cordon in front of a 7/11, presumably to prevent looting, and were then taunted by a crowd of degenerates. The police stood there while people danced, celebrated, and laughed. They knew these officers had just lost friends and colleagues yet they partied and had a grand time.
What I saw was the end result of years of anti-cop rhetoric.
Years of racial incitement.
Years of demagoguery.
Years of looking the other way when BLM activists called for violence.
Years of listening to politicians, college presidents, the DOJ, and even President Obama embellish the truth, lie, and distort to keep the BLM falsehoods alive.
Years of capitulation to mob demands, including the unjust prosecution of officers in Baltimore.
Years of university panelists blabbering on about white supremacy, state violence, implicit bias, and other vacuous liberal explanations of violent police encounters.
And I've waited years for scholars--yes, especially criminologists--to defend truth, to place the issues in context, to discuss publicly the data, and to attack the more blatant falsehoods.
Today we paid a price for our collective complicity. That price was paid for in blood by people we have been too afraid to support. Attorney General Holder was right: We are a nation of cowards.
Never in my life would I have expected that police would be considered thugs, that thugs would be considered martyrs, and that we--WE--wouldn't be able to tell the difference. Is this what it has come to?
Are WE too afraid to stand up for what is right, just, and moral? Have WE equivocated too much? Have WE become so tolerant that we can no longer see evil, much less call it by its name?
Police departments have undergone massive changes since the 1970's. They are better staffed, better educated, better trained, more innovative and more transparent.
They are also more diverse than ever before. Their tactics are smarter, more careful, more focused, more deliberate.
Still, this isn't enough.
The Ferguson debacle ushered in a wave of lies that were too easily embraced by the media and the cultural elite. Michael Brown, that "gentle giant," was executed in the street by a white police officer--his hands in the air as an act of surrender. !!HANDS UP--DONT SHOOT!!
This was a lie created by street thugs to hide their complicity in crime and to get one over on the police. It was also a lie that galvanised the left and their institutions.
It was echoed endlessly by pundits, by congressmen and women, and by university faculty--many of whom had their pictures taken with their hands raised in the air.
The lie became a rallying cry for every leftist crusader and cause; principled and unprincipled.
The fact that it was a lie didn't matter. The fact that Officer Darren Wilson acted in self-defence didn't matter. The fact that the "gentle giant" was a violent criminal who attacked a police officer also didn't matter.
The lie was useful.
It validated the left's views of the police as mercenaries paid to kill black men.
The lie became further evidence of structural racism, which academics capitalised on to push their agendas, to get more grant funding, and to publish more screeds.
And of course the lie created the Black Lives Matters group.
BLM has since proved itself to be anything other than committed to equality or due process or fairness. They desire none of these things. They embrace the worst sorts of racists, have encouraged violence against the police and against whites, and have shut down dissenting voices. They are the new authoritarians.
Nobody but the most perverse want to see the needless and unjust taking of human life. We should not tolerate crimes committed by police nor should we tolerate crimes committed by citizens.
We should also not excuse away the crimes of minorities because talking about it makes us uncomfortable or violates our desire to be seen as tolerant and non-judgemental. Tolerance of bad behaviour only results in more bad behaviour, more victims, and more suffering.
But we should also not tolerate lies to be passed off as facts because we either want them to be true or because we are too damn afraid to say anything.
Lies have a bad habit of becoming reality and when they do they almost always lead to further injustices.
If we are to turn this horrible tragedy into something good, if we are to honour the fallen and respect their sacrifice for us, may I humbly suggest that we reject the voices of hate, reject the lies of those who wish to divide us, and reject the impulse to say nothing.
We are better than this. We are Americans and we believe in standing up for what is right, what is honourable, and what is true.
John Paul Wright and Matt DeLisi
Professors of Crime and Criminology