When Maxine Waters puts willful ignorance on display, she doesn’t go halfway.
As a Democratic California congresswoman who now chairs the House Financial Services Committee after 30 years as a federal lawmaker, it might seem Waters would know better than most Americans how much different the country is since the Civil War ended slavery more than 150 years ago.
But that doesn’t stop her from claiming that, when it comes to the nation’s police forces, not much has changed at all for black people since the plantations of the antebellum South.
In an interview Sunday with NY1-TV, Waters was asked “why this country has such difficulty learning from history, and making real changes when it comes to violence and injustice done to black people?”
“I believe that it stems from the history of this country,” Waters said. “It stems from slavery, when whites were absolutely in charge, and they absolutely controlled the lives of people and their families.
“If they decided to separate families, and send the boys in one direction, the girls in another direction, the mothers to the big house.
“I mean, they’ve always been in charge. And I think that this thinking about the need to control, the need to, you know, make sure that people ‘stay in their place’ — so-called — has been, you know, what has been basically what has happened in America for all of these years, and I think it continues in various ways, sometimes a little bit more sophisticated ways.
“But the police, I think, really believe — and in some ways are led to believe — that their greatest challenge and their greatest chore is to keep, you know, black people in their place.”
An honest woman would have questioned the basic premise of the question.
First of all, the liberal narrative that police are engaged in unremitting violence against black Americans is a myth, as the invaluable Heather MacDonald of the Manhattan Institute has pointed out repeatedly.
In a June 2020 Wall Street Journal piece, for instance, MacDonald wrote:
“In 2019 police officers fatally shot 1,004 people, most of whom were armed or otherwise dangerous. African-Americans were about a quarter of those killed by cops last year (235), a ratio that has remained stable since 2015.
“That share of black victims is less than what the black crime rate would predict, since police shootings are a function of how often officers encounter armed and violent suspects. In 2018, the latest year for which such data have been published, African-Americans made up 53% of known homicide offenders in the U.S. and commit about 60% of robberies, though they are 13% of the population.”
Democratic propaganda notwithstanding, it would be difficult to find a country on earth that has made more of an effort to learn from its past than the United States — to live up to the ideals that it was founded upon. The civil rights movement of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — a law more than a half-century old at this point — is proof that the country takes steps to correct itself.
Is the country perfect in race relations? Of course not. No human institution ever will be perfect, in any area. But to pretend it’s governed, even implicitly, by the mores of generations past is to live a lie.
Waters’ own life, as a black woman living as a privileged member of the Washington establishment, is proof a country that once enslaved African-Americans has taken strides toward equality that would have been undreamed of only a century ago.
But this is Maxine Waters we’re talking about — a duplicitous Democrat with a vested interest in preserving a country divided along racial lines because her party depends on division for power.
So naturally, she reached back more than 150 years, to the days of the very slavery the Republican Party was founded to destroy.
The interview was in the context, of course, of the trial in Minneapolis for former police Officer Derek Chauvin, who is charged with murder in the death of counterfeiting suspect George Floyd during Floyd’s arrest on May 25, 2020.
The death sparked the national frenzy of rioting, looting and destruction that will likely leave its physical and psychological marks on the country even after the coronavirus pandemic passes.
But in any context, Waters’ words would be an odd thing to say for any American who has watched a black man become the president of the United States, who has watched black men and women become secretaries of state, senators and congressmen (and women), generals, governors, mayors, police commissioners — filling just about any position of power in the United States.
Sometimes they’re machine politicians and closet totalitarians who have successfully played the political game but damaged the country in the process — like former President Barack Obama or former Attorney General Eric Holder.
But most often, they’re American men and women holding jobs that are open to almost any adult capable of performing the necessary duties — like being a police officer. It might come as an unwelcome surprise to anti-police liberals like Waters, but the percentage of police officers who are non-Hispanic black people is roughly equal to the black percentage of the population.
According to DataUSA, in 2019, about 12 percent of the nation’s police force was black. Fourteen percent of the country’s population as a whole self-identified as black the same year, according to the Pew Research Center.
Claiming that those officers, and those police commissioners and chiefs, dedicated their lives to a system based on the idea of oppression of black Americans is not only an insult, but it’s also dangerously corrosive to the country’s social fabric.
It’s a truth that’s so self-evident that only liberals can deny it still, but the United States isn’t the country it was when the Democratic, slave-holding South was conquered by the Republican, abolitionist north, and the institution of slavery was destroyed.
But for Democrats in the 21st century, holding power means pretending the United States — the richest, most powerful and most generous nation the world has ever seen — remains frozen in the amber of history, to be punished perpetually for the sins of previous generations.
Waters has to know good and well how little of what she says is true. A woman who’s been a federal lawmaker since the presidency of George H.W. Bush cannot help but know how much has changed just in the past 30 years, much less the past 150 — and that includes the country’s police forces.
But it serves her political agenda to pretend otherwise, to maintain willful ignorance of what the whole world knows to be true.
And when Maxine Waters puts willful ignorance on display, she doesn’t go halfway.
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