David Clarke, a sheriff for Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, wrote an inflammatory op-ed for the Hill newspaper. In the column, Clarke attempts the impossible to–
- offload police responsibility for killings of citizens (black, brown, and white) onto the group Black Lives Matter (BLM);
- ignore the suffering of the deceased’s families, friends, and communities; and
- discredit and condemn BLM (and Occupy Wall Street) as responsible for the war veterans that preyed upon police officers in Dallas, Texas, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
In short, the column was a masterpiece of deflection of the broken image of police officers–“Officer Friendly“; the social media video of the killings of Alton Sterling and the aftermath video of the shooting of Philando Castile (and the many instances of killings before them) put an end to that image for good. Image-conscious people do not like to be unmasked, and thus the response will be fierce.
Most disturbing of all was Clarke’s attempt to deflect criticism by using his black skin color as cover for his apology for white supremacy and white superiority. It is the reason why white supremacists use Clarke and Larry Elder to continue the abuse of black people–to state it’s not white people doing it but a black (white) person. It’s quite unseemly and perverse for people who say they are black to turn around and attack black people (while simultaneously asking for exemption from the debasement that they argue for others). I have no respect for abusive and hate-filled people like Clarke and Elder.
The essence of the column is that the so-called American way is the status quo, including white supremacy, absolute respect for authority figures, and police killings of unarmed people. People who question this status quo are threats that must be quashed. The column is quite irresponsible for a law enforcement official to make, as it encourages ignoring the First Amendment of the Constitution, accepts white supremacy (and black exclusion) as a legitimate part of the culture of the United States, and encourages authoritarianism. All three are unacceptable.
Part of the solution is clear: The police departments must remove predatory police officers from their ranks immediately. For background information, read Babiak, Paul and Robert D. Hare (2006). “Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work.”