Yesterday, during the day, there were two brutal, unwarranted slayings of two innocent black men by police in Minneapolis and Baton Rouge. Last night 3 to 4 people used AR-15 assault weapons to assassinate innocent policemen during a protest march in Dallas. Many other members of the police were wounded — some in the course of trying to rescue and shield their wounded colleagues.
There are plain and old truths to be repeated here.
First, murder is murder. It was immoral in ancient times. It is immoral today.
The Dallas shootings were murder, plain and simple. In Minneapolis and Baton Rouge, the police acted brutally, overzealously, racially, and, it appears, criminally, but their acts were motivated, in part, by the fear, however off base, that they were encountering dangerous people with guns. In Dallas, the assassins set out to kill and injure as many members of the police as possible regardless of whether the police were white, black, Hispanic, Asian, … .
Second, one horrific act of injustice does not justify another. No one has the right to take the law into his own hands and decide he is judge, jury, and, as needed, executioner.
Third, these acts of inhumanity reflect the dehumanization of our supposed enemies. In Minneapolis and Baton Rouge, the police saw and heard what they wanted to see and hear and instantly and instinctively shot to kill. They did not see, from what reports suggest, what were two warm, kind-hearted, fellow Americans. Their actual victims were invisible. The police saw what they imagined or wanted to see or both. They killed people they couldn’t see because they didn’t bother to look.
In Dallas, the shooters, no doubt a self-appointed band of vigilantes, couldn’t see the police as individuals with families, friends, and colleagues who faced the same challenges, prayed to the same God, and had the same dreams. They saw them as the Gestapo — an organized, murderous gang whose only goal was to kill as many black people as possible. The didn’t see the police because they didn’t look. They let their emotions and zeal for revenge overtake their brains. In the end, they killed and maimed people who were invisible, people they too couldn’t see.
Fourth, we have put people in control who are out of control and we are letting people who are out of control take control. If they were using water balloons to fire at their invisible foes they could win their imaginary wars without inflicting lasting harm. But instead, they use weapons that have no place on their imagined battle field — deadly police pistols that kill when fired at point-blank range and deadly AR-15 assault rifles that kill when fired at long distance. It’s far beyond time to arm police with non-lethal weapons so they are not forever approaching motorists whose tail lights have died with drawn deadly weapons. And it’s far beyond time to remove AR-15 and other assault weapons from the public’s possession.