Notably, none of these intellectually dishonest statements quote or link to any actual rhetoric spoken by Mayor de Blasio, Eric Holder, or President Obama. That is because none of them has uttered so much as a single word that even hints that violently attacking a police officer, let alone murdering one, would be justified. Suggesting that their words are responsible for this murder is discrediting. Even the weaker claim that their words “embolden criminals” is absurd, both as a matter of logic and as a statement made amid historically low crime rates.
With regard to the particular crime of killing police officers, “the number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty—that is, killed with felonious intent by a suspected criminal—plummeted to 27 in 2013, its lowest level in decades.” That is the Obama/Holder record on this issue. We needn’t speculate about whether their rhetoric has proved dangerous for police. We know that it has not.
Following an outrageous murder of two policemen who seem to have been good cops, it’s emotionally understandable that most people nod along to statements about NYPD officers being “New York’s Finest.” There are a lot of good cops in New York City. There are, as well, a lot of bad cops in the force of 34,500. People who hate all police officers because some act badly are being prejudiced and irrational. It is also irrational to extol everyone who wears an NYPD uniform despite the fact that some of them abandon whistleblowing colleagues when they need backup, accost an innocent kid with racial slurs and physical threats, retaliate against a fellow officer who exposes systemic misbehavior by trying to have him involuntarily committed to a mental institution, or assault women with pepper spray for no reason. Unions that fight to keep even misbehaving officers from being fired bear some responsibility for the reputation that the NYPD has among its critics, as does every cop that observes misbehavior by colleagues but stays silent. Only by distinguishing among police officers—praising the ones who do their jobs honorably and capably, and disciplining or firing the ones who fall short—can the proposition that the profession is worthy of respect be rationally defended.
Interestingly, elsewhere in the piece, Friedersdorf quotes a Reason column by Nick Gillespie that “addresses a whole range of attempts to assign responsibility for this killing to someone other than the perpetrator himself”. The column only specifically references criticism leveled at Rand Paul by CCJ. No mention of all the high profile shots taken at Obama, Holder and DiBlasio. If libertarian love interest Paul hadn’t been poked by a moron would Gillespie have written that column?