Americans have been shaken by an unprecedented series of executions of law- enforcement officers in communities around the country. We’ve been shattered by the new reality of terrorism’s capacity to strike at any moment. These tragic events have been mishandled, even exacerbated, by our leadership in Washington, D.C. Moreover, dangerous misconceptions continue to be pushed by the media every day. As the U.S. faces these serious challenges, there’s a growing demand for decisive, unifying leadership to prevent the deepening spiral of the civil society. People hunger for a leader such as Abraham Lincoln who brought unity after the most divisive period of American history, “with malice toward none, with charity for all.” Such a call for unification hasn’t been demonstrated in the highest office of the land. Indeed, an absence of leadership lays the groundwork of further uncertainty, fostering a real vulnerability in America today. I ask you to consider tragedies in recent history and to review the false narratives and poor leadership that will, undoubtedly, produce more loss of life in the U.S.
Aug. 9, 2014: Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, returns home after just robbing a convenience store and assaulting the owner. Officer Darren Wilson, through the lowered window in his police cruiser, pulls up and directs Michael Brown out of the middle of the street. Brown approaches the vehicle and unleashes unrelenting blows to Wilson’s head. Wilson fires two rounds in his vehicle after Brown attempts to grab his 9mm Glock, and during pursuit fatally wounds Brown when he turns to rush the officer. Before a thorough investigation can be conducted, initial media coverage indicates that the primary motivation of the officer was race-related when first stopped. This fuels the narrative that Brown was an innocent young kid who had his hands in the air when fatally shot. This narrative insinuates racism on behalf of the police force and received blanket coverage on major news networks like Al Sharpton on MSNBC. Later, a grand jury convenes and reaches to the conclusion that Officer Wilson was justified in his use of force. The Justice Department, led by Eric Holder, the first black attorney general, comes to the same conclusion. Widespread riots break out after peaceful protests turn violent. Looting, and destruction of property ravage Ferguson. President Obama deepens the racial divide and distrust of police departments by stating, “Too many young men of color feel targeted by law enforcement—guilty of walking while black or driving while black, judged by stereotypes that fuel fear and resentment and hopelessness.”
Since then, media coverage of recent police shootings has only worsened. Alton Sterling (July 5, Baton Rouge) and Philando Castile (July 6, Minneapolis) were both armed black men who were fatally shot by the police on consecutive days. These tragic incidents were drilled into the minds of Americans on every news network repeatedly. Videos of their last minutes broadcast on what seems like an endless loop. Although we don’t definitively know the facts and evidence behind each case, a coordinated effort between outlets leads to the assumption of racist law enforcement. This coordinated effort diminishes the due process that is guaranteed in our Constitution and declares our officers guilty until proven innocent. Claims, such as the one made by Governor Mark Dayton of Minnesota, when he said that Castile would still be alive if he were white, were amplified. Organizations like Black Lives Matter fueled the narrative, calling for police chiefs in these areas to resign and for the immediate arrest of any officer involved. “No justice, no peace.” Contrary to an anti-cop perception, police officers maintain their constitutional rights even when wearing their badge. Again, this narrative is bolstered by the Obama administration.
In Poland, Obama attacks law enforcement, presenting a picture that systematic racism is present and widespread in law-enforcement agencies around the country. “These are not isolated incidents,” Obama states. “They are symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system.” He continues: “There’s a big chunk of our fellow citizenry that feels as if, because of the color of their skin, they are not being treated the same.” These statements heighten the racial divide that is taking taken control of the U.S. The President fills his statements with unsupported statistics reaffirming the supposed law-enforcement disparities that communities face. While our nation yearns for leadership to unite us all against violence, the flames of civil contempt are stoked.
Statistical data exposes the falsehood of systematic racism in law enforcement. According to the Washington Post, in 2015, 990 people were fatally shot by police. Fifty-percent were white, while 26 percent were black. BLM claims African Americans are disproportionately killed due to the fact that they only comprise roughly 13 percent of the population. This argument loses ground when compared to crime data released by federal agencies. African Americans disproportionately commit violent crimes in the U.S. From 1980 to 2008, the Department of Justice reports that 52.5 percent of the murders recorded were committed by African Americans. In 2014 alone, FBI data shows 53 percent of murders were carried out by black offenders. Even with this shocking reality, evidence now suggests that there is no racial bias in officer-involved shootings. A study released by Harvard professor Roland G. Fryer states that blacks are 20 percent less likely to be shot by police in tense standoffs than whites. It also clarifies that whites are 1.7 times more likely to die as a result of a police confrontation. Washington State University released findings that also contradict the current anti-cop narrative. Through strenuous simulations, officers were three times less likely to shoot an unarmed black suspect than an unarmed white suspect.
The Harvard study did indicate that there was a difference in police contacts and in the use of non-lethal force against black Americans. Although this seems to be the case, certain data shows why the differences exist. DoJ data finds that African Americans have a higher rate of outstanding warrants that result in handcuffing, which is a standard use of force. Other data conveys the idea that blacks are searched at a higher rate. According to the National Institute of Justice, when researchers matched stops involving black drivers with similar stops of white drivers, there was no difference in the conduct of the officer or the conclusion of the stop. This suggests that the given situation is a major factor in the conduct of the officer and that race is irrelevant.
Evidence throughout the nation shows that systematic racism is not prevalent. Still, our officers face a stark reality. Anti-cop rhetoric echoes throughout our society, leading to what’s known as “the Ferguson Effect.” Since Ferguson, police officers around the country have been savagely targeted and attacked for the death of Michael Brown and other cases that appear in national headlines. Law-enforcement agencies have stopped proactive or custodial policing throughout the country to avoid potentially dangerous situations and increased public scrutiny. Officers are unwilling to exit their vehicles to investigate suspicious activities, quality-of-life offenses such as broken windows, and other routine duties. This is because every action of the officer will potentially be misconstrued as racism, putting his life in danger and his job on the line. After the death of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, drug-related offenses virtually disappeared. Drugs didn’t leave the streets, however. Instead, police were put in a situation where enforcing the law is too dangerous.
The relaxed presence of the police has led to a spike in violent crime. Fifty-six of the biggest cities in the U.S. have seen a 17 percent rise in the murder rate from 2014 to 2015. Already, in 2016, Chicago has seen a rise of 72 percent in murders. Law enforcement is a vital institution that protects the civil society by upholding the Constitution. The Obama administration has been detrimental to the credibility and effectiveness of these institutions, infecting the population with the wrong idea that there’s somehow an unsalvageable disconnect between police and communities. A New York Times/CBS poll found that 68 percent of Americans believe race relations are bad. Under his leadership, Obama catalyzed tensions against officers through un-backed claims and politicized positions. The evidence, again, simply doesn’t support the narrative. A Quinnipiac University poll in New York reveals that 61 percent of African Americans support proactive policing with the enforcement of quality-of-life offenses. Unfortunately, a politically charged media agenda leads to tragedy in American streets.
Hours after Obama’s anti-cop press conference in Poland, gunman Micah Xavier Johnson opened fire on police in Dallas on July 7. Five officers were killed defending a Black Lives Matter protest—a protest directed against law enforcement. (According to Fox News, months earlier, in New York, protesters were recorded chanting violent phrases such as: “What do we want? Dead Cops! When do we want them? Now!”) After the streets run red with the blood of officers, protesters are seen dancing. As protesters ran for cover, officers jumped in the line of fire selflessly. Johnson believes that Sterling and Castile were executed by racist officers. Eventually, it becomes clear that he targeted innocent white cops, a distorted form of justice.
At the memorial service for the fallen heroes on July 12, Obama takes aim again at law enforcement with a speech laden with divisive language. “But America, we know that bias remains,” he states. “No institution is entirely immune, and that includes our police departments. And so when African-Americans […] voice a growing despair over what they perceive to be unequal treatment, when study after study shows that whites and people of color experience the criminal justice system differently. So that if you’re black, you’re more likely to be pulled over or searched or arrested.”
Obama dismisses the fact that his own rhetoric has led to increased tension and loss of life. Instead, he blames a racist police force. He even undermines the 2nd amendment: “We flood communities with so many guns that it is easier for a teenager to buy a Glock than get his hands on a computer or even a book.”
He spoke these words at a memorial for five dead cops in Dallas.
Baton Rouge: Three officers are killed and three more wounded on July 17. Gavin Long stalked state troopers and city police before firing with deadly accuracy. Long believed that black Americans are facing genocide on behalf of the American police. Again, an individual under the influence of misinformation and misconceptions by a colluded, agenda-driven narrative takes the lives of innocent officers. The targeting of police isn’t isolated to these two events. The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund finds that in 2016 police gun deaths are up by 78 percent. There have been 11 ambushes on law-enforcement officers so far resulting in the largest loss of police since 9/11. Local law-enforcement agencies have not suffered alone.
Federal agencies responsible for national security have been compromised by the same divisive leadership and wrongheaded narrative. Since the 2009 Ft. Hood shooting, in which 13 U.S. soldiers were killed and more than 30 wounded, the threat of radical Islamic terrorism remains unacknowledged by journalists. Media outlets and the Obama administration have been wary to even mention Islamists, for fear of offending Muslims around the world. Following Ft. Hood, the Obama administration claims that it is an act of workplace violence, and The Daily Beast reports that it took six years for that classification to change. In reality, there’s conclusive evidence that Nidal Malik Hasan was radicalized; he states that America was fighting a war against Islam. The failure to identify the cause and root of radical terrorism has persisted over the last 8 years.
America is the most inclusive nation in the world, accepting diversity on a wide range of issues. But the security of the American public shouldn’t be compromised to avoid offending someone. We know not all Muslims are terrorists; we also know that all radical Islamic terrorists are Muslim. This fact should be recognized by the agencies in charge of defending the homeland, not suppressed by an over-sensitive administration. Every time the U.S. is hit by an attack, the priority is to avoid generalization instead of responding to the actual threat. The American people are lectured to again and again about gun culture and about being careful not to use oppressive language against Muslims.
December 2, 2015: Two radical Islamic terrorists entered the Inland Regional Center and start shooting. Fourteen are massacred at a Christmas party and 21 others are wounded. Swat teams are deployed with their armored vehicles (bearcats) to isolate and eliminate the threat. Just like Ft. Hood, the initial coverage indicates workplace violence with the emphasis of easily accessible firearms. News agencies ran the story as a “mass shooting” instead of a terror attack. The FBI investigation found that the two shooters, husband (Syed Farook) and wife (Tashfeen Malik), had been radicalized and planning the attack for some time. Evidence is found on their phones of communications to terrorist organizations. Malik was a Pakistani national who was able to fall through the cracks when entering the U.S. Months before the attack suspicious activity funneled through their California home. The Daily Mail report several neighbors who regret not mentioning the activities in fear of racially profiling neighbors. Political correctness, recommended directly by Obama’s leadership, led to the denial of common sense and the unwillingness to report obvious dangers.
In the Oval Office, Obama again doesn’t address the fear in America. Instead, he warns against treating Muslims differently: “We cannot turn against one another by letting this fight be defined as a war between America and Islam.” Divisive language and rants against an unfounded prejudice in the American public do nothing to make people feel safe or secure the homeland. An attack has just successfully killed 13 people, and any responsibility is avoided by lecturing Americans and undermining the 2nd Amendment once again. “Congress should act to make sure no one on a no-fly list is able to buy a gun. What could possibly be the argument for allowing a terrorist suspect to buy a semi-automatic weapon?” Neither Farook nor Malik was on any type of no-fly list that would have prevented them from buying a firearm. The threat of terrorism was unacknowledged and would prove even more deadly.
Omar Mateen was investigated by the FBI on three separate occasions. His unusual behavior and threats were reported to the FBI by his co-workers. In 2013, the investigation into Mateen was closed, according to The Daily Caller, because, “[Mateen] was being marginalized because of his Muslim faith.” A local gun store reported Mateen’s suspicious behavior to local authorities without action. June 12, 2016: Mateen entered Pulse Nightclub to carry out a terrorist attack on hundreds of innocent victims. Forty-nine people within an hour were dead and 53 more wounded.
The conditions that led to the failure of the FBI to stop this attack become apparent. Judicial Watch found memos sent out to remove key words and sweeping generalities from intelligence databases and investigations. These memos led to the destruction of possible links that could have prevented further terror attacks. The Washington Times, in 2013, reported on Obama’s choice to eliminate certain terms related to Islam such as “jihadist.” These types of decisions led to the inability to identify threats such as Mateen and altered the training process of many agencies involved in counter-terrorism. This is the height of folly, the pinnacle of divisive leadership.
In the wake of the tragedies, unifying leadership is nowhere to be found. The President’s remarks make the violence about the gun and not the perpetrators, the ideology, or the sorry state of leadership in the U.S. Divisive leadership and media narrative force individuals into political and racial divides, which prevent the federal government and law-enforcement departments from effectively doing their jobs. Obama’s legacy is summed up by the flag flying at half-staff, a state of perpetual tragedies that are preventable and would not happen with unifying decisive leadership.
What we as a nation suffer from on an acute level is uninformed, half-staff leadership.