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December 26th 2014 print

Peter Smith

Throttling Truth Time and Again

White police officers encounter black miscreants and the latter come off second best. Cue protests, riots, calls for vengeance and the cold-blooded murder of two New York City policeman after a deluge of inflammatory rhetoric from the likes of Al Sharpton and, to his shame, President Obama

sharpton and BHOWhat duty do we owe each other during the Festive Season and at other times? If asked, many people might respond by saying that we should respect one another. That seems fine to me; though it is not something that can be pinned down necessarily. People are likely to have different views about how it finds expression in different circumstances. However, beneath this subjectivity an objective duty is ever present. That is a duty to seek and tell the truth. Peddling lies is the antithesis of respecting others.

Eric Garner, a black man, dies at the hands of police officers in New York. A grand jury convenes and decides not to indict the cop who grabbed Mr Garner around his neck. Disgracefully, President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio jump to conclusions and make racially charged statements about the police. Inevitably, Obama’s and de Blasio’s buddy, race-hustler Al Sharpton is part of the mix.

Protests break out on the streets replete with hateful signs directed at the police. Two NYPD cops (Wenjian Lu and Rafael Ramos) are subsequently assassinated, while sitting in their squad car, by a black criminal. Apparently he was ‘deranged’, as if anybody capriciously killing others isn’t. Police officers turn their backs on de Blasio as he visits the hospital where the two cops have been pronounced dead. How these events are linked exactly is a matter of conjecture.

What we know is that in another time Obama, Holder and de Blasio would have been investigated by the House Committee on Un-American Activities, long before being elevated to high office and given the chance to wreak havoc on American values. But, beyond that, where is the truth hiding?

Unlike the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, the incident is recorded on video. All can see it. Most people form the view, including conservative commentators like Charles Krauthammer, that an injustice has probably been done. The injustice turns on whether an illegal chokehold has been applied to Mr Garner.

Initially, I formed the same view as Krauthammer and others. Like them I suffer from not knowing what a chokehold is and reach a hasty conclusion. If you also don’t know, and are interested in the truth, I recommend that you read an article by Jack Dunphy on PJ Media, “Eric Garner sealed his own fate”. A chokehold is when pressure is applied to the throat to cut off oxygen with the objective of producing a temporary blackout. Before its use was outlawed in New York it was used by police as one technique to subdue those violently resisting arrest.

Now that I look at the video more carefully in an effort to find the truth, it is clear that a chokehold is not used. The grand jury undoubtedly came to the same and correct view.

The problem for the police was how to arrest a 350-pound man who didn’t want to be arrested. A greater use of Tasers has been suggested as a solution in these situations. Maybe, but is it safe to use a taser on a man with asthma and a heart condition?

It is clear that one policeman grabbed Garner by the side of his neck while others grabbed his body. Eventually he was brought to the ground. I’m not at all sure how else the arrest could have been tackled given Garner’s size.

Garner can be heard saying that couldn’t breathe while on the ground. In the best of all worlds that is a cry for help which should not go unheeded. The question you have to ask is how many suspects when being held make the same claim. Police are not super human. We have to put ourselves in their situation. It may be difficult to take in all relevant information and form an accurate assessment when grappling with a 350-pound man.

Garner had an option before the grappling began. That option was to be arrested without fuss. After all it had happened to him many times before.

In searching for the truth, what is also patently clear is the absence of any evident racial motive. Garner was selling illicit cigarettes on the street. That is why he was arrested. In the other case, Michael Brown attacked police officer Darren Wilson. That is why he was shot.

The Michael Brown case, which caused rioting and mayhem, turned out to be clear-cut. Consistent with the forensic evidence, six black witnesses in front of the grand jury testified that the 292-pound Brown had charged at the cop.  Beforehand he had robbed a store and bullied the counter clerk half his size. He punched the cop. He tried to grab his gun. He walked away before charging. He did not put his hands up and surrender. But that did not stop ‘hands in the air’ becoming a motif for the racial-grievance industry. Nor did it stop the ridiculous and repetitive referrals to Brown being unarmed as an implied indictment of Wilson.

In each of these cases the truth proved to be inconvenient to those with a tale to tell – Obama, Holding, de Blasio, Sharpton and the rest of the carpetbaggers living parasitically off the lives of the disadvantaged by creating a sense of grievance and victimhood. Is it an accident that these pathetic purveyors of fiction are on the political left? I think not.

Peter Smith, a frequent Quadrant Online contributor, is the author of Bad Economics