My esteemed colleague Michael Potemra (and the only other NR staffer I can find who is willing to say nice things about John McCain), writes in his column today [Link defunct] that Al Sharpton deserves “special praise” because the sweatiest demagogue in Christendom asked people not to riot in the wake of the Diallo verdict. Such is the state of New York politics; when one of the most reliably conservative and intellectually rigorous journalists around thinks Sharpton deserves a cookie for not asking for blood in the streets. Sharpton may deserve some “special praise,” but only because he is so morally corrupt that he exceeds expectations when he doesn’t endorse violence.
I may just be picking a fight with Mike to get the animal spirits going; nonetheless, clear thinking is in short supply when it comes to the Diallo trial. (Though my friend Vincent Cannato provides some for NRO; click here. [Link defunct]) Cannato calls our attention to, among other things, Orlando Patterson’s op-ed in today’s New York Times. Patterson, a professor at Harvard, writes that the verdict and the policies of New York law enforcement “compromise our international status and undermine the credibility of the nation best qualified to lead the world into a century of global freedom.”
Perchance Patterson is overstating the case slightly? After all, I sincerely doubt that the newly elected Iranian moderates will be weighing the Diallo verdict very heavily in their internal discussions about normalizing relations with the United States.
“Mustafa, I know that access to Western technology and medicine is crucial for us in so many ways, and I am even open to the idea that democracy is not Satan’s Nintendo, but this verdict out of Albany is simply too great a barrier for us to cross.”
“Yes, Kareem, I agree. We may have beheaded thousands of our citizens for their heretical refusal to include enough vowels in their names, but this Giuliani, he is a real madman! A tyrant!”
Alas, Patterson is hardly alone. The amount of politicking and hysteria has been ridiculous from the beginning. Rev. Calvin Butts III suggested yesterday that the Diallo case represents the same sort of injustice that caused peaceful South African leaders to take up weapons. Bob Herbert asserts in the Times that Diallo was shot for “breathing while black.” Sharpton wants to boycott organizations that donate to the policemen’s benevolent association. And so on.
Now, I think anybody in his right mind has to agree that Diallo’s death was a horrible tragedy, albeit one of human proportions. It was not akin to the mass lynchings of the 19th century (for more on this subject, click here [Link defunct]), Japanese internment camps, slavery, etc. It was a tragedy for one family, not thousands, but this fact makes it no less poignant for the Diallo family. But the posturing of Hillary Clinton — who called it a “murder” long before the trial was over — and Al Sharpton — the malicious liar who helped fabricate the Tawana Brawley affair — has been largely ignored by the press. The New York Times deserves special scorn for making this tragedy into something it never should have been.
Nevertheless, the four cops should be fired. Now. Defenders say the exonerated cops should not be punished if they were not convicted of a crime. Garbage.
In America today, as long as you do not break the criminal law, you are beyond judgement. The best example, which indeed defines the phenomenon, is the Clinton administration. Throughout the impeachment and campaign-finance scandals the idea was celebrated by pundits and Clinton sock puppets alike that the criminal law was the only standard available. If the President behaved like a diseased reprobate, enlightened people could not judge him so long as criminal laws were not broken. Al Gore humiliated himself eking money out of “impoverished” nuns etc., but since there was “no controlling legal authority,” why should anyone care?
Well, to be honest, the same thing is going on here. The Diallo cops were rightly acquitted and now they should be rightly fired. Being dragged off to jail shouldn’t be the only standard for removing a president and it shouldn’t be for canning a cop.
Rudy Giuliani — the best New York City mayor in memory — has been forced to defend these cops more than necessary. They certainly were not guilty of murder or manslaughter. But they did kill someone who should not have been killed. Yes, it was a mistake, but it was a huge one. The protestors are right that cops should be very afraid of making these mistakes.
They don’t deserve prison, but they certainly deserve a pink slip.
Apologies for the delay in my response to the NR poll. That’s going up today. Also, please check out the rest of the site. We’ve got more interesting stuff on our homepage than Al Sharpton has goop in his hair.