The terrorist attacks over the weekend prompted Donald Trump and others to decry the political correctness of the left. They insisted we must look at the problem of Islamic extremism more soberly.
I agree. We should never demagogue, but we can’t stick our head in the sand either. Terrorism is a matter of life and death that can’t be taken lightly.
Life and death matters never should be.
When the NFL’s Colin Kaepernick began refusing to stand during the national anthem to protest what he called black oppression last month, he said, “There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
On Friday, Terence Crutcher’s body lay in the streets of Tulsa, Okla. He became another unarmed black man shot dead by police.
The officer who killed him is currently on paid leave.
Then they shot him, and he died. Terence Crutcher was 40.
The Washington Post reports that since Kaepernick began taking a knee at games, 67 unarmed citizens have been killed by police. That’s in just a month. According to a database complied by the The Guardian, Crutcher is one of 32 unarmed black men killed by police in the United States this year.
Perhaps more important than numbers and statistics is the pervasive danger so many black Americans say they have felt their entire lives — spoken of by everyone from our Democratic president Barack Obama to conservative Republican Senator Tim Scott — that they are more susceptible to being targeted by the police because of their skin color.
There’s a reason other players have joined Kaepernick’s protests.
This doesn’t mean all cops are bad. It means there is a systemic malfunction in American law enforcement. It means what happened to Terence Crutcher last week is far too common.
It’s real, and it’s a problem.
So can we talk about it?
Many don’t like to talk about obvious things that make them uncomfortable, or, for conservatives, that might challenge their conventional view of having respect and admiration for the police.
This is political correctness.
Both left and right do it.
Why are many progressives and libertarians so quiet after yet another terrorist attack carried out by Islamic extremists? Because such acts threaten deeply held beliefs about diversity and pluralism. Racists and bigots are quick to capitalize, pointing and yelling that they were right all along! Those who know they’re not right aren’t eager to give them any aid.
This doesn’t mean we can ignore the problem of radical Islamic terrorism.
Why are so many on the right who never miss an opportunity to blast Black Lives Matter or Kaepernick so quiet right now about the indefensible police shooting in Tulsa? Or the shooting of Philando Castile? Or Walter Scott? Because it challenges their beliefs about the police. They’re not eager to give cop-hating extremists any leverage either, understandably. “Too many conservatives react to these stories by presuming that the police must have got it right,” National Review’s Charles Cooke observes.
That doesn’t mean racist police violence — intentional, accidental or otherwise — doesn’t exist.
We need to talk to each other about these problems. Too many would rather fight.
You will never see a terrorist attack carried out by an Islamic extremist where conservatives online don’t post “Religion of peace?” along with stories about said tragedy. How is this different from extreme activists who blame all cops for incidents like Terence Crutcher’s?
It isn’t different. It’s a vicious, nonsensical circle that helps nothing and prevents much needed dialogue.
Conservative criticisms of groups like Black Lives Matter or Kaepernick’s behavior are not unwarranted. Some who claim to speak for Black Lives Matter have said and done vile things, and Kaepernick’s critique of American oppression is hypocritical when he chooses to don a shirt glorifying ruthless dictator Fidel Castro. There’s no excusing much of the extreme left’s behavior.
But antics don’t discount enduring issues. When in the wake of tragedies, many on the left do to cops what many on the right do to Muslims — portray them as all bad, uniformly and without exception — they are intentionally obscuring reality to serve their own hateful agendas. The overwhelming majority of police officers and Muslims are good people who are as horrified by these tragedies — whether on the streets of Tulsa, Okla., or Chelsea, N.Y. — as any other American.
Conservatives are right that our increasingly hyper-PC society too often prevents honest conversation, but dialogue is a two way street.
We need to stop being so politically correct. The right included.