No one with an ounce of humanity could watch the video without feeling disgusted. While it’s important to remember that we don’t have all the facts, the footage showing the death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald is, to say the least, damning. Charged with first degree murder, Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke is being held without bond.
While there are undoubtedly questions that need to be answered – why it took 13 months for prosecutors to bring charges against Van Dyke being chief among them – it’s not entirely clear why Chicago protesters have hit the streets in force. What are they protesting? Assuming the incident was exactly as outrageous as it appears on the video, an officer killed a man without just cause. Pursuant to that, he has been arrested and charged with murder. The family has been awarded $5 million by the city.
What else is there?
Well, the Reverend Jesse Jackson has naturally anticipated that question. “It’s not enough to focus on what brought us here today — the execution of this young man,” Jackson said Wednesday. “That takes the scab off a deeper sore, a deeper cancer. We want mass demonstrations, mass voter registration.”
Mass voter registration? That’s…out of the blue.
But in any case, Jackson is singing the same refrain the Black Lives Matter supporters have been singing since Ferguson. The pattern is remarkably consistent. First:
This was a heinous tragedy and we won’t stand for it!
The facts about this particular case don’t matter – this is about the big picture!
The big picture, in this case, having something to do with voting? Strange. Very strange. But when it comes to these demonstrations, strange has become the order of the day.
In many ways, this movement has stomped all over its own aims. By ignoring the facts and antagonizing the very politicians who would be inclined the help them, they’ve made much of the country quite unsympathetic to their cause. If there is provable, clear injustice, you won’t need to use exaggeration and hyperbole to draw in supporters. But when you stretch social injustice to include every incident in which a black man gets killed by police, every instance of a racial remark, and every instance in which a university professor doesn’t know your special definition of “oppression,” you’re only going to be left with the ignorant and the crazy.
For the sake of a civilized society, we have to keep close watch on the men and women we trust with more power than the rest of us. We must be vigilant to protect our freedoms and to protect our very lives. But when we go too far – when we decide that any individual instance of injustice is a symptom of systematic racism – we’re no longer creating a safe, orderly society. We’re creating anarchy.