July 16, 2002


LAX AND INGLEWOOD: After the July 4 shooting of two Jews at L.A. International Airport- and following the gutless assurances by officials that "we're not sure" that it was terrorism/anti-Semitism- Jews, conservatives, and Jewish conservatives across the country reacted with the same outrage: how could anyone not recognize that an Arab shooting several Jews at the ticket counter of Israel's national airline not be considered an act of terror. I remember thinking at the time, "this is exactly what African Americans say when cops shoot black people."
And then, a week later, it happened- and just a few miles away no less: a black youth was caught on tape in Inglewood, Calif., slammed into a car hood and punched in the face in the process of being restrained by four different white cops. I don't have to tell you what happened next: almost every right-wing pundit who a week before had jumped to the conclusion that the LAX shooting was anti-Semitism seemed equally convinced that the police brutality incident was NOT racism.
It's not so much that I disagree with those who feel this way, and for the record I believe that the LAX shooting was almost certainly anti-Jewish-motivated while the Inglewood beating was at best gross police misconduct and at worst racist. What I do disagree with is this bizarre form of conservative identity politics which stipulate that cops are always innocent, black youths always guilty, and that it's not okay for black people to cry discrimination and victimhood, but defensible (indeed, encouraged) for Jewish people to do both. These conclusions very seldom have anything to do with the facts and everything to do with preconceived notions of ideology- and this is clearly one of the most dishonest practices in the current American political conversation.

RETURN OF THE COMMISH?: No, not Michael Chiklis (though I do love "The Shield"). It was reported in today's New York Post that former New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, the man who oversaw the revolutionary decrease in crime during Mayor Rudy Giuiliani's first term, is on the short list of candidates to take over the LAPD. Bratton, you may remember, was forced out after falling out with Rudy in '96 in a dispute over who was taking credit for the crime drop. Bratton flirted with a run for mayor last year, but Giuliani, who controlled a large block of leftover GOP soft money from his aborted 2000 Senate run, put the kibosh on that plan, forcing Bratton to align himself with losing Democratic candidate Mark Green (Bratton's promise to return as commisioner was the one and only reason to vote for Green; instead, Michael Bloomberg won and we got the return of Dinkins commish Ray Kelly). I wish Bratton luck in his pursuit of the LAPD job, but I still would love to see him come back for that mayoral run, especially if Bloomberg pulls a Ventura and steps down after one term.

Posted by Stephen Silver at July 16, 2002 01:40 AM
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