A friend on Facebook recently reminded me there is a thin line between “justice” and “vengeance.”
Over the past two weeks, peaceful protests for justice have descended into little more than violent mobs destroying property, beating, and at times killing, people, and causing mayhem, all in the name of JUSTICE.
That is not justice. It is vengeance.
When innocent people are made to suffer because of the actions of another, it is not a form of justice, but a form of vengeance.
When private property is defaced and destroyed, not because the owners participated in, or were accessories to, or even complacent about the injustice that needs to be corrected, then it is done so as an act of vengeance, not justice.
While many Americans stand appalled at the actions of the police which lead to the death of George Floyd, they too stand appalled at the actions of mobs roaming the streets of American cities seeking vengeance, not justice.
While many of Americans, of all races, colors, creeds, and political spectrums rightfully condemn the violence, we are seeing more and more from the left statements justifying the violence, to excuse the mob. The justification in grounded in false narratives about “400 years of racism,” an all too often used phrase that even Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey employed to show solidarity with those committing violence.
The left has been so pervasive in their efforts to sow these seeds of racial discord, that their promotion of ideas of “white privilege” and “systematic racism” has resulted in “righteous indignation” exploding into justified anger at society. Even some members of my own church community have excused the rioters on social media, one even posting on Facebook, “ Condemning the riots in the same breath as condemning what happened to George Floyd dilutes the real issue of inequitable racial issues. Imagine being unheard (unseen, disregarded, looked past, ignored, unloved) for a lifetime. What voice do you have? What language do you have? None except acting out loudly, aggressively, and even violently. This language of rioting is a demand to be heard, seen, and regarded.”
Unfortunately, this is not a unique or isolated way of thinking in many church communities. It almost seems as if “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” is somehow justified, if within the context of “social justice.” More so, if you perceive to have a long-standing grievance against society, then it is even more justified to take any eye or tooth that can be found, even if it is the eye or tooth of a minority business owner who sunk his life-savings into the enterprise and, after struggling to hold on to his dream through COVID-19, is now watching that dream vanish in flames . That is not justice. That is vengeance.
What is more, it is a fabrication.
Zaid Jilani, a freelance journalist and a Pakistani American Muslim, writes recently in a column for The Tablet titled “ We are Individuals, not Victims ,” that he finds the left’s notion that members of ethnic minority groups are simply “virtuous victims, cast adrift on a plank in an ocean of white supremacy over which [they] have no control” as problematic. Jilani notes that under the left’s perception of the world, “basically everything in our lives is determined by the Leviathan of structural racism, a term that is both increasingly vague and ever more expansively used to explain every feature of the social conditions of America.”
Jilani wonders what has happened to the left which, in the 1960’s, demanded that everyone be seen as an individual, not of a race, religion, creed, color, or ethnicity. It was the liberal idea that was so eloquently expressed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1963 when he stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and said he had a dream that one day, his little children, would be judged, “not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
This past week, in the name of “justice,” the Lincoln Memorial was vandalized .
When we make every law enforcement officer answer for the actions of the four offices in Minneapolis, then we are judging as a group, not looking at the actions of the individuals involved. We know there are bad police officers, just like there are bad lawyers, bad teachers, bad waiters, bad accountants, bad doctors, and bad politicians. In other words, some people are rotten apples and they can be found in every sector of our society. That does not make every other member of their profession bad by association. Rotten apples only spoil the bunch if they are left with the other apples.
But the Minneapolis PD acted swiftly, firing the four officers involved and criminally charging them for George Floyd’s death. That is how justice is upheld. However, the antifa backed looters and rioters are not actually seeking justice…they are seeking vengeance.
Recently, I have seen protestors carrying signs with what the left sees as a solution to the policing problem. Their demand is simple enough: DEFUND THE POLICE.
Isaac Bryan, the director of UCLA's Black Policy Center, explained why to CNN , “Law enforcement in the South began as slave patrol, a team of vigilantes hired to recapture escaped slaves. Then, when slavery was abolished, police enforced Jim Crow laws -- even the most minor infractions.”
A whole Chairman’s Corner could be written on the absurdity of that statement, but CNN does not even question the validity. At this point, a majority of the Minneapolis City Council has agreed to "dismantle" the city's police department.
The idea that there is something wrong with every police department in America and that unarmed blacks are 2.5 to 3.5 times more likely than unarmed whites to be killed by police is how that stereotype is justified. Forbes staff writer Jack Brewster in his column, “ Conservative Commentators Suggest Protests Are Based On A ‘Lie’—Here’s Why That’s Misleading ,” provides the left’s thought process:
“As Philip Bump of the [Washington] Post points out, according to the same statistic category, twice as many unarmed white people (20) were shot and killed by police as black people (10) last year, but whites make up almost five times as much of the population (blacks were also much more likely to be arrested than whites in every year since 2012, for which data are available).”
In May 2019, the same Minneapolis Police Department that touched off the recent protests, settled with the family of Justine Damond Ruszczyk for $20 million in her death by one of their department's officers, who was convicted of her murder. Ruszczyk was white. The cop who shot her is black. In addition to the officer's conviction, the case also led to the resignation of the Chief of Police.
While there is racial stereotyping by police, the statistic that if you are black, you are much more likely to be shot and killed by a police officer is based on the manipulation of that statistic. In 2019, forty-one unarmed people were shot and killed by police nationwide, nine (21.9%) were black. But that nuance is lost on that reporting. Instead, it seems like there is an epidemic of police shooting unarmed black suspects. What that statistic does not look at either is the situation.
In 2017, I was in a store in Buckhead when a naked, unarmed black man broke into the store, using a brick to shatter the glass storefront and proceeded to assault the store’s armed security guard, who was also black, throwing everything in reach, and sometimes coming close to hitting the other employees and customers, who I was trying to move out of harm’s way and towards the exit at the back of the store. The guard used so much pepper spray that I was affected by it, but it did not slow down the assailant. Eventually the guard had to draw his gun and was begging the man not to make him use it.
Most suspects shot and killed by police are armed and the killing of unarmed suspects is extremely rare, about 1% and 63% of those killed by police were in possession of a firearm .
What no one on the left seems to care about is more police officers died in the line of duty last year than suspects who were killed by police. According to the FBI , forty-eight police officers were killed in 2019. Of these, 40 were white, 7 were black, and 1 was Asian. This is eight less than 2018 when 56 officers were killed. Forty-nine suspects were associated with those forty-eight killings. Of those suspects, twenty-eight were white (40.8%), fifteen (30.6%) were black, and six (12.2%) were other races or the race was not reported. Using the left’s definitions and reasoning, that would also mean a law enforcement officer is 2.5 times more likely to be killed by a black suspect than a white one.
The problem with the manipulation of statics like the left is doing, is that it puts a higher distrust between blacks and law enforcement. People are less likely to act rationally if they are in fear of their lives and law enforcement is more likely to wrongly judge the situation when someone is not acting rationally because they have been constantly reinforced the fallacy that their situation is more likely than average to end in their unjust incarceration, or even their death.
Thus, it becomes a needless, self-fulfilling prophecy, which the left then jumps on to justify the fallacy and create division and demand vengeance in the name of justice.
In Kirsten Weir's article, Policing in Black & White , she highlights one study that notes the problem this can become. "Social media has turned a spotlight on cases of racial discrimination. As the list of black citizens killed by nonblack officers grows, tensions between black communities and police are running high. 'It's a nuanced problem but people continue to take a polarized view,' says Jack Glaser, PhD, a social psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley. 'It's not productive to demonize police.'"
The left’s social failure by their justification of the violence, including the defence of antifa activists who are helping to fuel it, lies in the fact that it is up to society to police itself and dispense justice under the rule of law. A mob is the ultimate expression of democracy. Whatever the majority of the mob wants, it gets, especially in dispensing its own brand of "justice."
However, as a constitutional republic, justice means due process and upholding the rule of law, not the rule of the mob. We must stand in unity on this, or be torn apart as a nation in a wave of vengeance.
The officers on trial will get what they denied George Floyd...justice. When the mob demands vengeance, it is up to society to stand on the right side of that thin line between vengeance and justice and uphold justice.
In doing so, we find, more often than not, that the thin line is, indeed, a thin blue line.