Is there a “glaring incongruity” between the anti-police rhetoric that portrays minority communities as frightened by the police and the reality of the situation?
In a piece headlined “Is This What Fear Looks Like?” Rafael Mangual, a Manhattan Institute fellow and legal expert, argues that the contempt with which police are often treated indicates a weakness in the left’s argument that minorities are afraid of them.
It’s a counterintuitive point of view and deserves a hearing.
Here is how Mangual begins his article:
Yooo they violated them!! They viiiiolated themmm!!!!” So went the commentary of a woman heard on a now-viral cellphone video showing two male police officers in Brooklyn being doused with buckets of water last Saturday, after approaching a group on the street. Even after the officers had turned and walked away, perpetrators kept dumping water on them, while onlookers pointed and laughed.
Another video that made the rounds on Saturday shows two NYPD officers being drenched, taunted, and, at one point, assaulted by a crowd consisting of mostly young black men.
The officers seemed to be holding a handcuffed suspect on the hood of a black sedan.
Many were dismayed by how the officers were treated, including Police Benevolent Association president Pat Lynch, who called the incidents “the end result of the torrent of bad policies and anti-police rhetoric that has been streaming out of City Hall and Albany for years now.”
The videos, however, are just two of many recent examples (in New York and around the country) that reveal a glaring incongruity between anti-police rhetoric—which insists that minority communities are terrified of cops—and the reality of what goes on in many inner-city neighborhoods.
There are numerous other examples in the piece.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s USA Today article in which he recounted how parents teach young black people to “fear people who are meant to protect us” was quoted as an example of the rhetoric of cop fear. Mangual counters:
This characterization doesn’t square with the behavior shown in the 14 examples linked to in this article—which themselves represent just a fraction of what law enforcement officers around the country endure every day. Watch these videos and ask yourself: “Is this what fear looks like?”
It’s worth noting that police in these examples showed admirable restraint. Here again, large gaps separate the Left’s rhetoric and reality. The available data suggest that, though many documented cases of police misconduct exist, such cases are statistically anomalous and far from the norm. Police rarely use force; when they do, it’s rarely enough to cause serious injury.
The Left’s distortion of reality may, in some cases, stoke genuine fear in minority communities—but it seems, based on video evidence, that what it inspires much more often is contempt. Either way, we’re all worse off.
It should be noted that there are also many conscientious parents in minority communities who teach their children to always be respectful to the police. Mangual may be painting with broad strokes.
But it is also worth noting that Mangual makes a great point about the “aggressive contempt” for law enforcement that puts a hole in the rhetoric about a universal fear of cops.