17 July 2016
A Missouri man celebrated his birthday today by going to Baton Rouge LA to kill cops. He killed three from ambush and wounded three more before being killed himself. The killer "speaks for no one," says the President, but we all know better by now. Everyone "represents" whether they intend to or not or are delegated or not. The killer will be presumed to speak for his skin color and for critics of the police. He will "speak" for those he most likely opposed, since they will say that he proves again, after the Dallas shootings, that criticizing the police leads to killing the police, as if police actions didn't "speak" for themselves to aggrieved, angry people. Whether the killer meant to accomplish anything beyond killing cops (and perhaps dying himself; the birthday angle makes me wonder...) may be impossible to know, but for anyone to expect that crimes like these will soften police behavior is foolish. It's more likely that this exploit, following so soon after Dallas, will only harden people's attitudes further. We'll know soon enough, since the Republican National Convention takes place this coming week, in an Ohio city where the police are urging a suspension of the state's open-carry law. Donald Trump has declared himself the "law and order" candidate. For some people that's what they now call a "dog whistle," but it's up to Trump and his party to clarify whether "law and order" means "the police are always right." Through the afternoon I've heard people calling for the country to unify, but every such expression of noble sentiment begs a question: what does unity require? Does it require one group to drop its attitude and forget every grievance in unilateral submission? Or does it require an acknowledgment of grievance before limits are set on its expression? One way or the other, it requires a discussion, and while today's atrocity may hurry that discussion the perpetrator deserves no credit. If this was, as it seems, a premeditated mass killing of police, it seems reasonable to label it an act of terrorism, no matter what the man's religion was, if he had any. While it may hasten necessary discussion in order to prevent further incidents like those of this July, we should be able to do this without giving the apparent murderer the dignity of "listening" to him -- and we have to do it without anyone refusing to listen to others simply in order to spite this corpse.