If Samuel Johnson were alive today, I suspect he would reconsider his famous pronouncement about patriotism being the last refuge of a scoundrel. Today, Johnson might say it is racism in which the scoundrel finds his refuge. Or, perhaps more precisely, the false claim of racism. As proof of this, one need look no further than Rep. Cynthia McKinney, Democrat of Georgia, scoundrel and batterer of police officers.
By now you are familiar with the story: On March 29, McKinney entered a House office building and, as members of Congress are entitled to do, bypassed the metal detectors through which visitors are required to pass. A police officer failed to recognize her and tried to stop her. Capitol police allege McKinney reacted by striking the officer with her cell phone. Later that day McKinney’s issued a statement that acknowledged the confrontation and took a conciliatory tone toward the Capitol Hill Police. “I know that Capitol Hill Police are securing our safety,” the statement read, “that of thousands of others, and I appreciate the work they do. I deeply regret that the incident occurred. I have demonstrated my support for them in the past and I continue to support them now.”
In issuing the statement, McKinney seemed to be taking some measure of responsibility for the run-in, perhaps in the hope that the matter would be dropped and forgotten. But police officers take a dim view of being smacked with cell phones, no matter who does the smacking, and when it appeared that the police might press charges against her, McKinney went on the offensive.
Two days after the incident, she held a press conference where, flanked by Harry Belafonte and Danny Glover, she said the confrontation “was instigated by the inappropriate touching and stopping of me, a female black congresswoman.” If the implications in that statement weren’t clear enough, McKinney’s lawyer, James W. Myart Jr., spelled it out: “Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney,” he said, “like thousands of average Americans across this country, is, too, a victim of the excessive use of force by law enforcement officials because of how she looks and the color of her skin . . . Ms. McKinney is just a victim of being in Congress while black.”
Conspicuously absent from the press conference were any of McKinney’s fellow Democratic House colleagues.
McKinney-style hollow cries of racism may seem comical to those fortunate enough to merely read about them, but police officers working in America’s inner cities hear echoes of these cries every day. All manner of misbehavior can be overlooked, forgiven, or even encouraged if one can wrap himself in sufficient layers of victimhood. Not long ago two of my colleagues spotted a car speeding through a residential neighborhood, and as they tried to catch up with it the car drove on the wrong side of the street and ran two stop signs. When the car finally pulled over, the officers found it to contain a middle-aged black couple. The male driver was very animatedly upset at having been stopped, and though he readily admitted to the violations he nonetheless protested that he had been pulled over because he was black. “You know why this is happening?” he asked his female passenger as he signed his citation. “Because we’re n*****s!”
Yes, the guy got his ticket, just as Cynthia McKinney may soon see her turn in the dock. When her position became so untenable, when her posturing only succeeded in embarrassing so many fellow Democrats who previously seemed beyond embarrassment, she issued an “apology” that still deflected the blame for her troubles on the police. If she thought she could stop the prosecutorial gears from turning she was mistaken. The Capitol Police have submitted the matter to a grand jury, and an indictment may be forthcoming. If McKinney does face charges, as indeed she should, how many ways will the race card be played? Johnnie Cochran may be dead, but his legacy lives on.
–Jack Dunphy is an officer in the Los Angeles Police Department. “Jack Dunphy” is the author’s nom de cyber. The opinions expressed are his own and almost certainly do not reflect those of the LAPD management.