Pardon the below sprawling column. It’s a bit jumbled because I was a bit jumbled when I wrote the bulk of it, Saturday night.
This is a difficult moment. Black Lives Matter demonstrators, their supporters, and allies are grieving the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. By all accounts–including now-ubiquitous phone videos–Sterling and Castile died horribly and unjustifiably at the hands of police. Meanwhile, the law enforcement community grieves the murdersÂ ofÂ Dallas police officers Brent Thompson,Â Patrick Zamarripa,Â Michael Krol,Â Lorne Ahrens, and Michael Smith, who died horribly at the hands of a sniper, who also woundedÂ seven officers.
I identify with angry and grieving BLM protesters and share much of their broad policy agenda. I also identify with angry and grieving police officers, who have such an essential and difficult role in hard-hit urban communities. Which is to say that I cannot fully or unconditionally identify with either side in the customary ways demanded by the antagonists in polarized times.
I shared the below remarks in draft with someone who identifies with BLM, and with someone else who identifies with a law enforcement perspective. Both were offended by what I wrote. Both told me in no uncertain terms that thisÂ essay demonstrates my moral cowardice in itsÂ equivocation. On one side, I stand accused of failing to bluntly condemn anti-police behavior. On the other, I stand accused of tone policing and of a failure to be a proper ally…