In future presidential editorialization about the shooting deaths of police officers, perhaps the president himself might first offer a few “words matter” gestures that would reassure law enforcement, to use another Obama phrase, that he “has their back.” Here are just three low-bar proposals for how to discourage those who glorify or advocate lethal violence against criminal-justice officers:
‐No longer invite into the White House any leaders whose affiliated members have marched chanting their desire to kill police officers (e.g., “What do we want? Dead cops” / “Pigs in a blanket; fry ’em like bacon”).
‐Do not consult with any self-appointed leader in the White House whose past has included overt and implicit calls to shoot police officers (e.g., Al Sharpton: “I believe in offing the pigs. Well, they got pigs out here. You ain’t offed one of them. What I believe in, I do. Do what you believe in. Or shut up and admit you’ve lost your courage and your guts to stand up”).
‐Do not invite into the White House any artists whose work has glorified the killing of officers of the criminal-justice system (e.g., Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly album, one of whose songs was dubbed by Obama as his favorite of 2015), whose cover depicts a group of African-American youth celebrating with champagne and cash on the White House lawn over the corpse of a white judge with his eyes X-ed out).
I don’t think that is too much to ask of the president of the United States — and perhaps such simple gestures might do a lot more for police reconciliation than the usual Obama summits and community “dialogues.”