President Obama is proposing a task force, and — for once — I’m glad that he did.
Of course, our president has been dead wrong and tone-deaf throughout the ordeal in Ferguson, Missouri, a racially charged confrontation whose impact has only been heightened by Wednesday’s grand jury decision not to indict a white New York City police officer in the death of another black suspect. But if the president’s Ferguson commission jump-starts a national debate on what’s really at issue here, I’m all for it, and I hope Republicans jump into the conversation as well.
For our president and for Attorney General Eric Holder, of course, this is entirely a question of race and law enforcement prejudice. In his determination to inject race into virtually every issue that crosses his desk, you could argue that Mr. Holder is perhaps the biggest racist in America.
As the president sees it, the Ferguson clash — and the violent riots and looting that ensued — can be boiled down to the police failing to build up trust in minority communities. If there is a lack of understanding between the police force in Ferguson and the community they take an oath to protect, the fault lies entirely with the police.
Don’t believe it. After the riots, there were a few Ferguson business owners who criticized law enforcement for not doing enough to protect their property, but there were a lot more voices who said that, without the police, it would have been total chaos, a Wild West in which no one, black or white, would be safe. To hear the president describe it, Officer Darren Wilson’s decision to fire on Michael Brown was a tragedy reflecting the increasing militarization of the nation’s police forces and their failure to understand the people they are supposed to protect.
But Officer Wilson and his comrades have a right and a duty to protect themselves when confronted with deadly force from criminal elements. As for the so-called “militarization” of the local police forces — with the night goggles and the Humvees obtained from the Pentagon — when there is a riot going on in your streets, the police are the military. We can all agree that racial profiling for purely racist motives is a bad thing, but profiling in general is something police and detectives engage in every day if they want to do their jobs properly.
When Officer Wilson received reports of a burglary in the neighborhood, he would have been derelict in his duty if he had not been on the lookout for suspects in the neighborhood who fit the profile he was given. That’s not illegal profiling; that’s standard operating procedure. (As to the administration’s push for body cameras for every cop walking the beat in America, I love Laura Ingraham’s suggestion that we ought to be putting those cameras on the president and his attorney general. I’d definitely watch those videos.)
The mainstream media totally buy into the Obama line, but I’d argue that the American people are starting to see through the lies. One part of the Obama-Holder agenda is clearly to increase the federal control over local law enforcement, to set the policies from Washington on what’s acceptable and not acceptable. The results of last month’s election, which repudiated so much of the Obama agenda across the board, were also a clear signal that this kind of unconstitutional power grab by this administration must be stopped.
Instead of a bogus debate over police failings, the debate I’d love to see is one on how Mr. Obama’s own policies laid the groundwork for tragedies like Ferguson. The good work we did in reforming welfare and the culture of government dependence with the Republican Congress in the 1990s is being rolled back under this administration, which has already tried to decimate the work and personal responsibility standards that were central to that reform.
The breakdown of families, the lack of educational and economic opportunity, the relentless drive to redistribute wealth and to stifle personal initiative, the absent fathers and the babies born out of wedlock — those are the roots of the Michael Brown tragedy. And it is the Left’s policies that have encouraged those problems.
So, Mr. President, let’s stop demonizing the police. Let’s have that task force and let’s have a real debate. We might just find that the problem doesn’t lie with the police or the community, but with your own world view.
• Tom DeLay, a former congressman from Texas and House majority leader from 2003 to 2005, writes a weekly column for The Washington Times and www.washingtontimes.com.