Killing in the name of…

I have no idea whether Officer Darren Wilson was justified in shooting Michael Brown the first time, or the second through sixth times. Such decisions made under such circumstances are always questionable. Testimony from witnesses and the people involved is unreliable and physical evidence open to interpretation. If truth is the first casualty of war, it may also be the most aggrieved victim of crime. Tamir Rice and Eric Garner seem to have been clear-cut homicide cases, but again, like anyone just reading about them from afar, I can’t pretend familiarity with all pertinent facts. What I do take for certain is that the American law enforcement and criminal justice systems are deeply and systematically racist. I know this because blacks are arrested at dramatically higher rates than whites; imprisoned at higher rates; and of course, shot by police at higher rates. I know this, also, because the United States collects data on race, a practice which is in itself inherently racist. Such statistical data cannot be found in France, where people are considered to belong simply to the human race. While this spirit is laudable, I think that collecting data based on archaic social constructs of race serves a valuable purpose. Statistics are notoriously difficult to interpret and easy to manipulate, yet such data could help a society founded on genocide, racism and the promise of liberty and justice for all. We can’t atone for the past but we could confront its lingering effects. It could help, that is, if we do something to change our future. It will be interesting to see whether the recently released torture report prompts protest in American cities, as the above shootings have done. I hope so. Like the police, the CIA is an arm of our democratically elected government. We, the American people, are accountable for what they do and how they do it. – Andrew Wolfe