Do You Want to Be Self-Righteous or Effective?

Honoring the humanity of police officers as well as the civilians who have been killed by police are not mutually exclusive actions. Cue the media! Or, rather, clue in the media.

While the vast majority of protesters have been creative and non-violent, some have been chanting for police to be killed. And, a lunatic used the protests as an excuse to kill two cops.

While the vast majority of police officers have treated the protesters with professionalism and respect, some police union officials are employing language which is hysterical and supremely unhelpful.

Politicians are using sincere fear and frustration on both sides to fuel their self-serving, country-damaging publicity machines. The news media shamelessly spotlights extremists making outlandish statements. The all-consuming need to earn entertainment-based ratings wins over journalistic standards, common sense, and common decency.

We do not need police unions, Pat Robertson, or Rudy Giuliani spinning up the rhetoric. And, we don’t need to be spun up by our liberal allies, either.

Police in riot gearMost protesters and most cops are intellectually on the same side of the issue of race and fairness. Very few cops think it’s okay to be racist. This doesn’t mean that department’s policies and practices aren’t unfair in their execution. It just means that there is no evil intent behind bad training, decisions, and attitudes.

Demanding that the status quo be upended is healthy and necessary. Demonizing the officers and officials who are themselves ensnared by the status quo creates an unnecessary enemy.

Do you want to be self-righteous or effective? Cathartic or constructive? At some point you have to decide if your priority is to change the world or if you only want to rail against it.

Blaming the President for the death of the two police officers is wrong, cheap, and another example of self-reinforcing bias. Refusing to pause the protests during a period of mourning and continuing to froth in anger is insensitive and isolating.

We need to to train and sensitize the police — especially the higher ranking ones — to the unconscious and damaging racism in the departments.

But, the best way to change our police departments is to work together and not blame and hate and point fingers. Let’s have a happier, more united 2015.

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