How can anyone ever explain this to Mason?
He’s only 4 months old, so that moment still lies years in the future. Still, at some point, too soon, he will ask the inevitable questions, and someone will have to tell him how his dad was shot to death for being a police officer in Baton Rouge.
Montrell Jackson was not the only cop killed Sunday, nor the only one who left a child behind. Officer Matthew Gerald and Sheriff’s Deputy Brad Garafolo also had kids. And it’s likely that in killing five police officers earlier this month, a sniper in Dallas robbed multiple children of their fathers, too.
So there are a lot of people having painful discussions with a lot of kids just now. But Mason’s father was the only one of these eight dead cops with the maddening and paradoxical distinction of being an African-American man killed in protest of police violence against African-American people. He left a Facebook post that gave a glimpse into how frustrating it was, living on both sides of that line — being both black and a cop and therefore, doubly distrusted.
“I swear to God,” he wrote, “I love this city but I wonder if this city loves me. In uniform I get nasty hateful looks and out of uniform some consider me a threat.”
“Please,” he pleaded, “don’t let hate infect your heart.”
Nine days later, he was dead.
Counting two New York City policemen murdered in 2014, this makes at least 10 cops randomly killed in the last two years by people ostensibly fighting police brutality. But those madmen could hardly be bigger traitors to that cause.
One is reminded of something Martin Luther King said the night before his assassination, when he explained “the problem with a little violence.” Namely, it changes the discussion, makes itself the focus. King had been protesting on behalf of striking sanitation workers in Memphis when unruly young people turned his march into a riot. “Now … we’ve got to march again,” he said, “in order to put the issue where it is supposed to be.”
These cop killers leave us a similar dilemma. Instead of discussing the violence of police, we are now required to discuss violence against police and to say the obvious: These killers serve no cause, nor does any cause justify what they did. They are just punk cowards with guns who have changed the subject, thereby giving aid and comfort to those who’d rather not confront the issue in the first place.
But if we don’t, then what? One often hears men like Rudy Giuliani and Bill O’Reilly express contempt for the Black Lives Matter movement of protest and civil disobedience; one is less likely to hear either of them specify what other means of protest they would suggest for people whose concerns about racially biased and extralegal policing have been otherwise ignored for decades by government and media. If not Black Lives Matter, then what? Patient silence? Acceptance of the status quo?
That isn’t going to happen, and the sooner the nation understands this, the sooner it moves forward. Sadly, that move, whenever it comes, will be too late for Mason and dozens of others left newly fatherless, sonless, brotherless, husbandless and bereft. Still, we have to move. The alternative is to remain stuck in this place of incoherence, fear, racial resentment … and rage. Always rage.
But rage doesn’t think, rage doesn’t love, rage doesn’t build, rage doesn’t care. Rage only rends and destroys.
We have to be better than that. We have no choice but to be better than that. We owe it to Mason to be better than that. He deserves a country better than this mad one in which his father died, and life is poured out like water.
Jocelyn Jackson, Montrell’s sister, put it best in an interview with the Washington Post. “It’s getting to the point where no lives matter,” she said.
By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist, The Miami Herald; The National Memo, July 21, 2016
Faced with the tragic killing of 49 people in Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, notable conservatives seem to be running out of excuses for why we need less gun control.
Bill O’Reilly surprised many on Tuesday when he said that new laws were “definitely needed” as a response to the Orlando shooting. After going after Democrats for not being tough enough of terrorism, O’Reilly conceded that gun crime is a problem in the U.S., and that guns are too easy to get.
“That’s the fact. So let’s deal with it. We all have the right to bear arms, but we don’t have the right to buy and maintain mortars. Even if you feel threatened by gangsters or a New World Order. No bazookas, no Sherman tanks, no hand grenades.”
“The FBI and other federal agencies need the power to stop suspected terrorists or other evildoers from buying weapons,” he said. “That law needs to be very precise.”
O’Reilly had a much different opinion last January, when President Obama announced a gun control executive action after the San Bernardino attack. “The truth is, terrorists are not going to submit themselves to background checks — neither are dangerous felons or insane people,” he said in his January 6 program. “They are not going to sign any paper when they buy a gun. Do we all get that? They will buy their guns on the black market. And no registration law will prevent that.”
Also on Tuesday, O’Reilly’s fellow Fox News host Gretchen Carlson had a change of heart about gun control in the aftermath of the Orlando tragedy.
“Do we need AR-15s to hunt and kill deer?” Carlson asked. “Do we need them to protect our families? Yes, I’m in favor of people being able to carry. I think some of these mass shootings would have been less deadly if that were the case. But I’m also with the majority today taking a stand. Can’t we hold true the sanctity of the Second Amendment while still having common sense?”
Perhaps most shocking, the National Rifle Association put out a statement on Wednesday saying the organization agrees that terrorists should not be allowed to buy firearms, and that they are “happy” to meet with the Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump to discuss the issue.
Oh yeah: Donald Trump announced he was meeting with the NRA, the strongest gun lobby in the world, to discuss keeping suspected militants away from guns.
I will be meeting with the NRA, who has endorsed me, about not allowing people on the terrorist watch list, or the no fly list, to buy guns.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 15, 2016
“Anyone on a terror watchlist who tries to buy a gun should be thoroughly investigated by the FBI and the sale delayed while the investigation is ongoing. If an investigation uncovers evidence of terrorist activity or involvement, the government should be allowed to immediately go to court, block the sale, and arrest the terrorist,” the NRA’s statement read.
The NRA tweeted that this statement did not represent a change in their position, and that “due process protections should be put in place that allow law-abiding Americans who are wrongly put on a watchlist to be removed.”
By: Germania Rodriguez, The National Memo, June 15, 2016
As the war between Fox News and Donald Trump ratchets up, Roger Ailes is fighting off criticism from his senior executives over his handling of the crisis. According to one highly placed source, last night, Ailes sent out the now-famous statement mocking Trump as being scared to meet with the “Ayatollah” and “Putin” if he became president. “That was Roger 100 percent,” the source explained. “A lot of people on the second floor” — where top Fox executives work — “didn’t think it was a good idea.”
Fox executives are also troubled that Ailes’s principal adviser right now is his longtime personal lawyer and Fox & Friends contributor Peter Johnson Jr. “He wrote the statement with Peter,” the source explained. “Peter is running the war room,” another Ailes friend told me. Fox executives are worried that Ailes is relying on an attorney with scant communications experience as the network is reeling from the biggest PR crisis in recent memory. Historically, during a crisis like this Ailes would have huddled with his veteran communications guru Brian Lewis. But Ailes fired Lewis in 2013 over his concerns that Lewis had been a source for my 2014 Ailes biography. Since Lewis’s ouster, Johnson has taken on the role of media counselor.
Fox spokesperson Irena Briganti did not return a call. When asked about his role advising Ailes, Johnson responded to me with an ad hominem statement. “If you were ever actually fair, any semblance of integrity was swamped by your reaction to the failure of your critically panned hit job on Fox and Ailes,” he said. “Just like your latest tweets and articles, your questions today are based on your own malicious fabrication.”
New signs emerged today at just how frantic Ailes has become to get Trump back to the table. The two men have not spoken since yesterday, sources told me. This morning, Joe Scarborough reported that Ailes called Trump’s daughter Ivanka and wife, Melania, to get through to the GOP front-runner. But Trump is saying he’ll only talk to Rupert Murdoch directly. In a further challenge to Ailes’s power, Bill O’Reilly is scheduled to host Trump. Last night, Ailes directed Sean Hannity to cancel Trump’s interview. O’Reilly’s refusal to abide by a ban adds a new dynamic to the clash of egos. For O’Reilly, this is an opportunity to take back star power from Kelly. Sources say O’Reilly feels he made Kelly’s career by promoting her on his show, and he’s been furious that Kelly surpassed him in the ratings.
Meanwhile, Fox producers are scrambling with the practical matter of how to program the debate without Trump. “Right now, it is about how the moderators handle Trump,” one producer said. “They do not want to be seen either directly criticizing him since he’s not there, and they don’t want to seem like they are drumming up criticism by letting the candidates attack Trump rather than stake out their own positions and debate one another. For all the talk of the optics right now, the bigger issue is how to program a debate without the front-runner. Remember, Fox may be a political machine, but it is still a damn good television programmer.”
For Ailes, the internal dissent over his handling of the crisis would seem to only weaken his grasp on the helm of Fox News. Rupert Murdoch has become more hands-on at Fox since questions about Ailes’s faltering health have been raised. Now Murdoch has to wonder why Ailes, who runs the most valuable asset at parent company 21st Century Fox, is getting PR advice from a lawyer Ailes personally pays.
A spokesperson for Murdoch did not return a call.
By: Gabriel Sherman, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, January 27, 2016
“An Anti-Immigrant Police-State”: The GOP’s Crazy Birthright Citizenship Debate Could Have Real Consequences
A droll Politico headline earlier this week nicely summed up the state of bemusement and incomprehension surrounding the Republican Party’s revived fixation with ending birthright citizenship.
“Trump to O’Reilly: 14th Amendment is unconstitutional.”
Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly grilled Trump on Tuesday, based on the widely shared premise that ending birthright citizenship would require changing the Constitution to excise or edit the first sentence of the Fourteenth Amendment. That sentence states, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”
Republicans are racing to catch up with Trump, creating a fresh consensus among the party’s presidential candidates that birthright citizenship is bad, and a presumption among most critics and reporters that these candidates believe the Constitution is flawed, and should perhaps be changed.
Neither of these presumptions necessarily describes anti-birthright candidates. Many Republican presidential hopefuls share the belief that giving the children of immigrants citizenship automatically is bad. In less abstract terms, they’re affirming an unfounded nativist anxiety that birthright citizenship creates an incentive for child-bearing immigrants to stream across the border and secure all the benefits of citizenship, including welfare, for their offspring—what conservatives derisively refer to as “anchor babies.” But they disagree among themselves over how to address the problem. And because the point of contention is so politically toxic—a dramatic shift to the right relative to the also-toxic Republican primary consensus in 2012—the candidates have little interest in explaining their personal theories of how the imaginary “anchor baby” crisis should be resolved.
All of the possibilities are equally crazy.
Under the status quo, the children of undocumented immigrants are conferred citizenship by the Fourteenth Amendment. If you believe this is bad, and that we should be willing to tolerate a permanent, minority underclass of stateless noncitizens, you can address it in three ways: by changing the Constitution, by stepping up enforcement so dramatically so that all unauthorized immigrants are expelled before they give birth, or by getting courts to reinterpret the Constitution as it is currently written.
In general, the Republicans who want to change the subject from birthright citizenship to literally anything else pay lip service to the issue. But they insist, for better or worse, that citizenship is a constitutional right of the children of immigrants, and that the Constitution is not going to change. Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush are in this category. Both intimate that they oppose automatic citizenship for the children of people without any documentation who are trying to game the Fourteenth Amendment, but argue that the right is enshrined, and it isn’t going away.
Perhaps intentionally, they are blinding themselves to the other strategies. In a statement to reporters earlier this week, Scott Walker’s spokeswoman explained how he would tackle the issue. “We have to enforce the laws, keep people from coming here illegally, enforce e-verify to stop the jobs magnet and by addressing the root problems we will end the birthright citizenship problem.” If there were no undocumented immigrants in the country, then birthright citizenship would become a mere abstraction. Without touching the Constitution, Walker suggests he would use a draconian enforcement regime to effectively moot the birthright clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. This is almost certainly not feasible, but it lays down a marker for immigration enforcement on the rightmost conceptual end of the policy debate—promising to deport immigrants at such an intense clip that vanishingly few will remain in the country long enough to give birth.
Trump’s goal is even more ambitious. He supports a Walker-like anti-immigrant police-state, too, but argues that the Fourteenth Amendment doesn’t say what it appears to say. A popular argument on the fringes of conservative legal thought holds that the original meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment—and of the term “jurisdiction” in particular—precludes the notion that it should create a right to citizenship for the children of non-citizen immigrants. Trump has bought into it. He’s not a fan of amending the Constitution, as he told O’Reilly, because “It’s a long process, and I think it would take too long. I’d much rather find out whether or not anchor babies are citizens because a lot of people don’t think they are.” This flies in the face of a century and a half of law. It was the source of O’Reilly’s confusion, and of the tongue-in-cheek Politico headline. To test the theory, a conservative state government could pass a law stripping citizenship benefits from children of immigrants, and defend it in court. This would be easy to laugh off in a different milieu, but in a world where scores of federal judges and three or four conservative Supreme Court justices are willing to vouchsafe plainly absurd and self-serving conservative legal arguments, it is alarming. Especially if you consider the possibility that a Republican candidate wins the presidency on an anti-birthright platform, and obtains the power to nominate nativists to the federal bench.
These views are so extreme that they’re often dismissed as harmless campaign trail pandering. Since the Constitution isn’t going to be amended anytime soon, at least not for this purpose, most reporters don’t take the anti-birthright frenzy as much more than a garden variety Republican primary spectacle. That’s a big error. GOP candidates are telling us how they would use levers at their disposal to antagonize immigrants, and we should be listening.
By: Brian Beutler, Senior Editor, The New Republic, August 21, 2015
“There Must Be Some Logical Explanation, Right?”: Republican Doublethink On Mass Shootings; Scott Walker Edition
Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who recently joined the Republican primary carnival in an “official” way, says the government should reauthorize the Patriot Act in response to the murder of four Marines in Chattanooga, Tenn., by a 24-year-old gunman.
And he suggested that changing a policy that stops military personnel from carrying weapons in certain civilian areas would have prevented the attack. Those policies “are outdated,” Mr. Walker said on Fox News, because the United States is “at war and radical Islamic terrorism is our enemy.”
After a career criminal who had illegally entered the United States killed a San Francisco woman on July 1, Bill O’Reilly demanded that Congress pass a law that would impose mandatory sentences on people who repeatedly enter the country illegally and members of the right-wing Republican caucus in the House eagerly responded.
The idea was that such a law, along with another proposal to strip cities of federal funds if their police are not required to turn over all undocumented people to the federal government, would prevent shootings like the one in San Francisco.
This leaves me a little confused.
After any highly publicized killing – like the murders in Charleston, or Newtown, or in any number of other places — advocates of gun control call for greater restrictions on the sale and use of firearms. And people on the right, like Mr. O’Reilly and Mr. Walker, reliably respond by saying that no law could have prevented those killings.
So, which is it? Can no law stop a determined person from killing another human being? Or can laws do that? It would be inconsistent, if not hypocritical, to take both positions, so there must be some logical explanation.
Mr. Walker and the Fox host Megyn Kelly tut-tutted about the fact that President Obama did not immediately call the Chattanooga killer a Muslim terrorist. They had no idea at the time whether that was true, but the point of the exchange was to attack Mr. Obama. They used it to revive another favorite talking point – that the president did not quickly label the attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi as a terrorist attack (even though he actually did).
Oddly enough – or maybe not oddly at all – Mr. Walker called the murder of nine African Americans in a Charleston church a “racist” and “evil” act, but neither he, nor any other Republican candidate or public figure that I can find called it an act of terrorism, which is precisely what it was.
Senator Lindsey Graham, another Republican presidential poser, called it “racial jihadism,” but that was mainly to deflect attention from the real motivations for the murders and toss that “jihad” word out there.
I’m sure there is a logical explanation for that, too.
By: Andrew Rosenthal, Taking Note, The Editorial Page Editors Blog, The New York Times, July 17, 2015