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How To Avoid 1968

Dateline: Bristol, Tenn.:

A man accused of shooting indiscriminately at passing cars and police on a Tennessee highway told investigators he was angry about police violence against African-Americans, authorities said Friday.

One woman died and three others, including one police officer, were injured in the rampage.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said in a news release that initial conversations with the suspect, 37-year-old Lakeem Keon Scott, revealed he was troubled by several incidents across the U.S.

Scott, who is black, was wounded in the shootout with police, remains hospitalized and has not yet been charged. All those shot were white, police confirmed.

Dateline: Valdosta, Georgia:

A man who called 911 to report a car break-in Friday ambushed a south Georgia police officer dispatched to the scene, sparking a shootout in which both the officer and suspect were wounded, authorities said. Both are expected to survive.

The shooting in Valdosta, just north of the Georgia-Florida state line, happened hours after five police officers were killed Thursday night in an ambush in Dallas. Despite saying the officer was lured to the scene by the gunman, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said there was no immediate evidence the shootings were related.

The cop is white; the shooter is Asian.

Dateline: Ballwin, Missouri:

A Ballwin Police officer was in critical condition after he was shot in the neck during a traffic stop late Friday morning, police said.

The officer had stopped the car for speeding on northbound New Ballwin Road about 11 a.m., police said. As the officer went back to his car, the driver got out, “advanced quickly” and fired three shots at the officer, police said.

Said St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar: “Make no mistake, we believe that Ballwin officer was ambushed.”

The gunman fled north on New Ballwin Road and was captured in Manchester several miles northeast of the shooting scene, after jumping out of the car and running, police said.

A semiautomatic handgun was recovered, according to St. Louis County Police, who are taking over the investigation.

The male officer was taken to Mercy Hospital St. Louis, in Creve Coeur, where he was in critical but stable condition, “fighting for his life,” Ballwin Chief Kevin Scott said at an emotional press conference Friday afternoon.

No information yet on the races of the officer or the suspect.

I was talking to an older friend today, someone who had been a college student progressive activist in the 1960s. I asked her if this felt to her like 1968. Yes and no, she said. There was the matter of the war, which was a much bigger deal than we face today. The biggest difference, she said, is that back then, people had hope that if they could just end the war, or do this or that thing, then a better day would come. Now, people don’t have that hope, and they are a lot more atomized than they were back then.

It was false hope — so much so that for many of us, the French term soixante-huitard (sixty-eighter) used to describe the left-wing activists of that year has become a term of abuse. We are, happily, far away from the convulsions of that accursed year, in which RFK and MLK were assassinated, but none of us want to find out how much more the body politic can absorb before it loses its collective mind.

Everybody go now and read this David French column. Excerpts:

Stop lying and distorting facts for your own short-term political gain. It has been extraordinary to watch so many on the left and the right disregard the truth for the sake of “larger purposes.” A known lie such as “hands-up, don’t shoot” became the slogan of an entire movement. Scaremongers refused to deal with actual statistics and instead perpetuated the claim that police officers had declared “open season” on black men.

Comprehensive reporting shows that police overwhelmingly use force when they are “under attack or defending someone who [is].” Despite the millions of interactions between police and citizens (including black citizens), the number of controversial or contentious shootings is low. It’s so low that in a nation of more than 300 million citizens, we can rattle off individual names – Laquan McDonald, Walter Scott, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner – rather than consider the horror of mass death, of a true “open season.” The problem will never be solved if we refuse to acknowledge its complexities. No debate that so reflexively distorts reality will ever be productive.

At the same time, it’s just as dishonest to pretend that police abuse is a fiction or that official racism has been vanquished. It is a simple fact that some police departments have covered up police misconduct (McDonald’s case comes immediately to mind) or, typically at the behest of their political masters, systematically abused the citizens they’re sworn to protect, turning them into ATMs for the state through excessive and burdensome fines and citations. While the Department of Justice’s investigation of the police shooting of Michael Brown exonerated officer Darren Wilson, for example, it painted an extraordinarily disturbing portrait of the use and abuse of official power in Ferguson, Missouri. Police made Ferguson a hell for its residents, a place where, as I wrote at the time, “a small class of the local power brokers creat[ed] two sets of rules, one for the connected and another for the mass of people who are forced – often at gunpoint – to pay for the ‘privilege’ of being governed.”

No American man, woman, or child should have to live under such a regime. But the problem will never be solved if we refuse to acknowledge its complexities. No debate that so reflexively distorts reality will ever be productive.

Read the whole thing — and pass it on.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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