What the coronavirus reveals about the race grievance industry

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In a public show of support and affection, citizens of New York clapped, whistled and yelled their appreciation for those on the front line against the coronavirus pandemic. Doctors, nurses, emergency personnel and the police all basked in the glow of this outpouring of love. The one group of first responders that seemed to be bearing the brunt of the hardship was the New York Police Department. Nearly 1,200 uniformed officers and civilians have tested positive for COVID-19 and 15 percent of the force last week was on “sick report.” Five members of the force have died from the virus. According to a statement by the police commissioner, they do not have time to grieve because of the task that lies before them: protecting the public.

This deep commitment to serve always has been at the forefront of whose who volunteer to put their lives on the line for strangers. It is too bad that it took this public health crisis to remind Americans of the value these men and women in blue represent. Less than a year ago, some of these same people who are cheering the police sat back and watched, saying nothing, as officers were humiliated by people throwing water on them while they patrolled. The New York City Council refused to pass an ordinance criminalizing these assaults. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and her social justice warriors led protests against the police, encouraging people to jump over the turnstile at the subway system in front of the police in defiance of their authority. There were demonstrations denouncing police as racist, and violent assaults that resulted in some officers being killed.

That widespread disrespect and denunciation of law enforcement by the race grievance industry, groups such as Black Lives Matter, has had a chilling effect among the police ranks that can exacerbate and compound the coronavirus crisis. Police departments across the country are having a difficult time recruiting officers because of the many high-profile shootings of blacks by police in places such as Ferguson, Mo. Sixty-six percent of departments around the country reportedly are having difficulty recruiting officers. The St. Paul, Minn., police department’s chief has warned that the department is so short-staffed, it may not be able to respond to all 911 calls. 

The problem feeds on itself. Last year in St. Louis, 13 black children were killed in a span of six months. Police made only one arrest. The social justice warriors have fanned the flames of hatred so badly that it has resulted in mutual nullification, where neither side cooperates to pursue justice.

I have argued that this wholesale assault on law enforcement represents a danger to national security, domestic tranquility and our ability to protect U.S. citizens. As the coronavirus pandemic worsens, and more people are out of work, food lines will grow longer. If there are fewer people delivering food than those ordering it, we likely will be relying more and more on our men and women in blue. The question is, will there be enough of them around to protect us — and will those who remain on the job remember how people ignored them or cheered when they were under attack?

I hope and pray that when this pandemic ends we will remember the heroic role of the men and women of law enforcement, and that we as a nation will come to their defense against the race hustlers and guardians of grievance, just as they came to our aid when we faced death and destruction.

It is interesting that when a real threat, rather than a manufactured one, emerges, suddenly people don’t care about the color of a police officer’s skin; they just want officers to be competent. This is what I have been arguing for some time and have emphasized in the Woodson Center’s recent work with “1776”: Our real choice as we move ahead is between the identity politics of victimhood or the politics of competence. When death comes near, we want people who pass the competence test, not the color test.

Robert L. Woodson, Sr. is the president and founder of the Woodson Center. Follow him on Twitter @BobWoodson.

Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Black Lives Matter Coronavirus COVID-19 Law enforcement Pandemic Public safety

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