Many of us were dismayed when President Obama invited Black Lives Matter activists a White House forum on policing. The forum was held a few days before the assassination of three officers in Baton Rouge, La., and after the killings of five officers in Dallas.
Present were Black Lives Matter leaders DeRay Mckesson, fresh from an arrest at a Baton Rouge protest of the death of Alton Sterling, a black man who died in an altercation with police, and Brittany Packnett. The Reverend Al Sharpton, the administration's unofficial go-to man on race relations, was there of course. Apropos this meeting, Victor Davis Hanson offers the president three modest proposals on assembling White House guests lists:
*No longer invite into the White House any leaders whose affiliated members have marched chanting their desire to kill police officers (e.g., “What do we want? Dead cops” / “Pigs in a blanket; fry ’em like bacon”).
*Do not consult with any self-appointed leader in the White House whose past has included overt and implicit calls to shoot police officers (e.g., Al Sharpton: “I believe in offing the pigs. Well, they got pigs out here. You ain’t offed one of them. What I believe in, I do. Do what you believe in. Or shut up and admit you’ve lost your courage and your guts to stand up”).
*Do not invite into the White House any artists whose work has glorified the killing of officers of the criminal-justice system (e.g., Lamar Kendrick’s To Pimp a Butterfly album, one of whose songs was dubbed by Obama as his favorite of 2015), whose cover depicts a group of African-American youth celebrating with champagne and cash on the White House lawn over the corpse of a white judge with his eyes X-ed out).
In speaking on the murders of the three Baton Rouge officers, the president said that "nothing" could justify this kind of action. I was interested in the world "nothing–it seems to say that African Americans have enormous grievances with American society, just not enough to justify cold-blooded murder.
Do African Americans have serious grievances? Republican Senator Tim Scott, who is the only African American in the Senate, who has always refused to call attention to his race, recently spoke out and said that he, too, had faced prejudice (including several non-violent but nevetheless humiliating encounters with police officers). Scott is a sincere man who wants the best for this country.
While Senator Scott made his way up the ladder from a childhood of working class poverty, I couldn't help but notice that, for all his anger, Mr. McKesson has just a whiff of privilege in his background–he is a graduate of Bowdoin College, where he was president of his class. Before that, he was head of a grant-making organization for black youth in Baltimore. He's held administrative positions in public educations and was chief personnel officer of the Baltimore public school district.
Why not, the next time the president wants to convene a forum on race and policing, invite Senator Scott instead of Black Lives Matter?