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Need for Calm Debate

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If we don’t all take a deep breath, our unrest will only get worse.

Last night, as the shots rang out across Dallas – as protesters scattered, and we watched the horrible, endlessly replayed video of a police officer’s cold-blooded murder on cable news – I felt that we were witnessing an unraveling. Our unrest hasn’t yet reached the levels of 1968, but it’s moving in that direction – against the backdrop of the worst partisan polarization in decades.

We are faced with choices today. At a time when all the short-term incentives point toward unreason, our leaders, political and cultural, must choose reason. At a time when group solidarity is trumping individual accountability, we must choose individual accountability. At a time when the loudest voices don’t wait for evidence to make sweeping judgments, we must wait for the evidence.

In other words, we need to pump the cultural and political brakes. Here’s what that means:

Remember always that the primary blame for any criminal or wrongful act lies with the perpetrator and his or her confederates. It is extraordinary to see the extent to which ideologues will fixate on any given crime (or suspected crime) and immediately blame it on entire segments of American society, thus taking an individual crime and turning it into a group indictment. The most absurd recent example was of course the stampede to blame an ISIS-inspired attack by a Muslim on Christian Republicans, but we’ve seen this phenomenon at work in the days since the shootings of Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Louisiana. The actions of three cops (the officer who shot Castile and the officers who engaged Sterling) became stand-ins for – and alleged proof of – the racism of American police generally.

Then, last night, while the police were still engaged with a shooter in Dallas, one of the most widely trafficked conservative sites in the world put up this headline:


Source: David French, nationalreview.com