After this week, maybe we should lower the flag to three feet off the ground. When we get our shit together we can raise it to half-mast.— Lewis Black (@TheLewisBlack) July 8, 2016
I spent much of my radio week discussing the shooting of civilians and cops in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Texas — as well as right here in the St. Louis area, where an officer was ambushed and shot three times today by a felon he pulled over for speeding. As I write this, the suspect has been caught and the cop is fighting for his life after three hours in surgery.
After all of it, I don’t have any answers, but I do know that if you’re encouraging violence of any kind via social media, political statements, or as a radio or TV host, you are part of the problem. Frankly, I don’t want to hear any of it, particularly the pronouncements of politicians who always say the same things after events like these (“we stand with fill in the blank city”), but never offer solutions. I’m also sure that blaming Black Lives Matter for what happened in Dallas and Ballwin is like blaming all law enforcement officers for what happened in Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights.
One of my listeners, Bob Vitter, wrote to say he’d heard several angry “pundits” blaming President Obama for a “war on police” during his administration. However, Bob sent me a link to this Daily Kos piece from last year, which shows that the numbers show exactly the opposite — a decline in the number of officers who have been shot compared to each of the last three two-term presidencies…
If you look only at fatal shootings of police officers up to September of the seventh year during each of those administrations, the numbers are just as clear.
- 576 police officers were shot and killed up to this date in the Reagan administration.
- 528 during the Clinton administration.
- 405 during the Bush administration.
- 314 during the Obama administration.
In other words, 46% fewer police officers have been shot and killed in the first six-plus years of Barack Obama’s presidency than were killed during Ronald Reagan’s presidency in the same time frame. There is no war on police. This entire line is a complete fabrication of the conservative imagination, designed to pit people and parties against one another.
I’ll note that those numbers do not include the last ten months, but even if they did, I doubt the comparisons would be much different. Count this as a thin piece of good news amid the chaos of the last few days.