New conversation on race? Leave me out of it


I have read in newspapers and watched TV talking heads make one plea after another for a conversation on race. Another one? Well, no thanks. I am a bit weary of “reform” quests built on the foundation of deception and denial.

The President says we need police reforms, like sensitivity training and each officer wearing a camera, because black communities don’t trust police.

Keep in mind this is the same President who says we must reform immigration because the system is broken, failing to mention he is the very one who broke the system by refusing to enforce existing immigration law.

I find myself wishing I had been lost in the wilderness lately, far away from TV or newspapers, blissfully unaware of the racial upheaval in and spinning off from Ferguson, Missouri, the rioters mixed with peaceful protestors, the looters grabbing as much as they can steal from local businesses or even burn down their buildings, all while the White House sends messages sympathetic with the mobs and critical of the police trying to hold things together.

Unbelievably, the President panders to and encourages the protest movement by saying he understands their outrage, that police nationwide mistreat minorities, thereby throwing under the bus every police officer in the country, the ones who keep us safe by putting their lives on the line as they mix it up daily with the most dangerous thugs in our society.

The Attorney General spoke to a congregation of a black Atlanta church – ostensibly a tax-exempt organization prohibited from participation in anything political –reinforcing the finger-pointing at police while joining sentiments with mobs across the country who are poised to tear something apart when a grand jury decision goes against their expectation.

In the cherry-picked cases that reinforce the guilty-white-police narrative, the President and Attorney General are deploying a regiment of federal investigators to comb through the local case evidence after the grand jury did not indict, desperately searching for the opportunity to charge for federal civil rights violations since guilt is their foregone conclusion, just like the emotionally-fueled mobs.

There is a good reason for the feds to have the authority to investigate a local case. In long-past days when blacks were routinely denied basic rights in the South, there was a crying need for feds to investigate after local law enforcement might have covered up the real facts; it happened.

So the federal second bite at the apple does have a purpose, but the President and Attorney General might want to conceal their knee-jerk bias in favor of one side of a case, you know, just to put a better face on blind justice even while they interfere on their favored side of the scale.

Just for appearances, they might want to apply a little basic restraint to temper their remarks about black communities having good reason not to trust police. They might even want to refrain from hanging out with the creepy likes of Al Sharpton, who has visited the White House more than 80 times, the same guy who never saw a racial spark he couldn’t ignite with his patented brand of self-promoting gasoline.

Personally, I’m a little sick of hearing distorted accusations painting police as the bad guys. The public unrest, the menacing threats, the disruption of business, the looting, burning and violence that prompted deployment of the National Guard should give any rational person some idea what it is like policing the Ferguson, Mo., community and others like it on a regular basis.

Furthermore, while the news media has its guilty white police narrative stuck in their echo chamber, they have been studiously silent on the self-inflicted wound that is the real root cause of the poor black community’s suffering.

While part of black America is doing well, the other half is mired in poverty and crime, the black family having disintegrated with three out of four black kids born to young, poor, single mothers struggling with meager income to raise kids without a dad to help with finances and child care and discipline, with little hope of escaping the setting of poverty, crime, drugs, thugs and gangs.

In this endless cycle of misery, the crime rate among young black men is astronomical, with more than half the murders in America committed by blacks who are just 13 percent of the population.

Some poor black communities are so crime-riddled that even the police are frightened, and the kids grow up knowing if they study hard in school, speak proper English or “act white” in other ways, they will earn ridicule or maybe a beating. Is it any wonder young black males turn to crime and end up incarcerated in unbelievable numbers?

What is more unbelievable is the denial of black leaders and the news media about this real, root problem. So long as race hustlers like Sharpton, the news media, the President and Attorney General pretend this elephant is not in the room and tell the aggrieved protestors the police are at fault, why would they blame themselves for their failed life?

Why would they admit to themselves they caused their own problems, failed to take advantage of educational opportunities, failed to prevent unwanted pregnancy, failed to put together a family that instills in children the values and discipline that promote success?

Why, indeed, when every message they hear says their plight is the fault of white police? It must be devastating to own up to your own failure when excuses are so much easier.

Last week the Atlanta Constitution ran a story about the disparity in arrest rates between blacks and whites. The implication was police bias, but the story had nothing about the history of blacks committing violent crimes at a multiple far in excess of their white counterparts, whatever the reason.

Such dishonesty in reporting doesn’t qualify to be called journalism, but it does support the current narrative.

Not long ago the Atlanta Constitution ran another story about a study showing in daycare centers black kids are disciplined at a higher rate than white kids, implying racist staff. Later, columnist Leonard Pitts wrote a column about that same study, blasting daycare personnel for racism.

Neither the people conducting the study, nor the reporter, nor Leonard Pitts showed the least curiosity whether those statistics might mean too many black kids are not as well-behaved as they should be, might have less self-discipline leading to misbehavior, perhaps because they didn’t have the benefit of two parents teaching them how to behave.

Any honest discussion on the subject should include those probing, uncomfortable questions, but since asking will get you branded as a racist, such questions remain unasked.

The news media has neglected to mention any of these issues in recent reports on racial unrest while Sharpton and his Presidential buddy fan the flames of discontent. Journalism has died, it seems, and the mainstream media is not nearly as intent on reporting the news with perspective as they are in fulfilling their self-appointed role as agents of social change, selecting themes for the echo-chamber from their agenda playbook.

Look at the remarkable turnaround they achieved nationally in just a few years on public perception of gay marriage.

Michael Brown’s death at the hand of a Ferguson police officer sparked this nationwide pretense that the poor black community’s problems are caused by police, a laughable notion to anyone willing to think honestly.

I am all for investigating every death caused by police, but I am also willing to ask about young black men like Michael Brown, “What kind of parenting led him to steal from a store owner while roughing him up, talk back to a police officer trying to clear the street and then attack that police officer?” Even if the police officer had been indicted, Brown shares the blame for his own death.

Joining the surrounding chorus to blame police is so much easier than the stark, disturbing truth.

Surely you saw the video of the police takedown of a very large black man named Eric Garner in Staten Island, N.Y., the choke hold and Garner’s death after clearly declaring more than once, “I can’t breathe!”

More civil unrest exploded in New York after the grand jury decided not to indict the police officer using the prohibited choke hold. My speculation is the grand jury could not assign to police the intent to kill Mr. Garner.

Personally, I think this incident that killed Garner is outrageous, but it has nothing to do with race. What bothers me here is four or more police officers took Garner down and held him down with a knee to his neck like he was a serial killer, while his violation was selling loose cigarettes.

Why would people want to buy single smokes? Well, the city and state of New York have applied so much tax that a pack of smokes in New York costs north of $13. Furthermore, they have assigned police the job of protecting their tax base by making the sale of single cigarettes illegal.

If that doesn’t make you scared of government running amok, it should. The police in this case escalated when they should have de-escalated, and applied a level of force that suggests disrespect of the public.

Garner had a record of more than 30 arrests, but that does not excuse extreme tactics taking a citizen down for selling loose smokes.

I blame the city and state as culpable for this incident by excessive government meddling. I hope the family sues and that city and state should pay up, and I think the police officers involved should be disciplined.

Whether Michael Brown in Ferguson, Eric Garner in Staten Island or others cherry-picked to support the protest cause, the grievance class appears to be well organized and spring-loaded to pounce, apparently intending as much disruption as they can achieve.

I am suspicious of crowds of people with nothing better to do, with an action plan and signs pre-printed, ready when the trigger is pulled to surge into protest at places like Rockefeller Plaza and Grand Central Station, maximizing the harm to ordinary people trying to enjoy Christmas decorations or make their way to and from work.

I think we are being played by some savvy organizers, and the media with their echo chamber is either their accomplice or unwitting ally.

For all these nauseous reasons, I decline to participate in the next round of politically correct navel-gazing on race, but I will tell you this. When the discussion turns to retraining every police officer in America and planting a camera on their shoulder, the usual suspects will ask, “What can it hurt?”

Ask yourself what could it hurt for you to wear a camera during your workday, recording your every word and scene? If you have nothing to hide, why should you worry about lawyers searching your video for infractions? In the case of police officers, those defense lawyers are looking for arguments to set their criminal clients free, or to prosecute the police officer.

I have an alternative idea. Why don’t we try trusting our police officers to faithfully execute their sworn duty, investigate them when an incident goes sideways, prosecute them when they have committed a crime and tell America’s race hustlers to go to hell?

[Terry Garlock occasionally contributes a column to The Citizen. His email is]