While Bruno Mars gave her a run for her money, it was Beyoncé’s riveting performance of her anti-brutality song “Formation” during Sunday’s Super Bowl halftime performance that stole the show.
Needless to say, apologists for police brutality were incensed.
“I thought it was really outrageous that she used it as a platform to attack police officers,” former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said on Fox News. “What she should be doing in the African-American community and in all communities is build up respect for police officers and focus on the fact that when something goes wrong, OK, we’ll work on that.”
When something goes wrong?
We’ve seen a parade of killer cops — even when caught on camera — walk scot-free as prosecutors and grand juries decide to look the other way. We saw a grand jury clear a police officer for the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was playing with a toy gun. We saw prosecutors refuse to charge police officers who murdered Eric Garner for the unpardonable crime of selling loose cigarettes. We saw police officers cleared after shooting — without warning — 22-year-old John Crawford for the capital crime of picking up a for-sale BB gun at a Wal-Mart. And these weren’t aberrations.
Giuliani and his friends refuse to even acknowledge the real scourge of unwarranted police violence. They’re certainly not serious about “working on that.”
Fox News host Brian Kilmeade predictably shared in the mock outrage. “I couldn’t really make out what Beyoncé was saying,” he said. “[T]he song, the lyrics, which I couldn’t make out a syllable, were basically telling cops to stop shooting blacks!” Kilmeade was literally outraged at the suggestion that African-Americans shouldn’t be shot. This, despite the reality that 1 in every 65 deaths of young African-American men is at the hands of police, a trend that continues unabated.
Meanwhile, Long Island Rep. Pete King (R) also stood up for unaccountable homicidal cops. “[H]er pro-Black Panther and anti-cop video ‘Formation’ and her Super Bowl appearance is just one more example of how acceptable it has become to be anti-police when it is the men and women in blue who put their lives on the line for all of us and deserve our strong support,” he said.
The best way to support police is to weed out the bad apples that undermine public trust in their profession. Yet conservatives seem hell-bent on enabling the worst elements in America’s police departments, further alienating them from their communities.
Giuliani continued: “This is a political position, and she’s probably going to take advantage of it. You’re talking to middle America when you have the Super Bowl. So if you’re going to have entertainment, let’s have decent, wholesome entertainment.”
Seventy percent of NFL players are African-American men. Not only is Black Lives Matter one of the defining issues of our time, it is one of particular relevance in the context of professional football. The players may be providing “wholesome entertainment,” but their communities are bleeding. This crisis matters, and it demands attention, even in Giuliani’s implicitly white “middle America.” (The residents of Ferguson, Mo., are certainly in middle America and likely approved of Beyoncé’s message.)
There was simply no better place for Beyoncé to perform her new anthem than the Super Bowl. And there was simply no better message for Super Bowl viewers to hear in 2016 than a clarion call to stop state-sponsored killings of young African-Americans.
Moulitsas is the founder and publisher of Daily Kos.