As the nation reeled following the killings of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and five police officers in Dallas, Texas, two prominent conservative media outlets published thoughtful essays examining how police interact with communities of color.
In The Daily Caller, senior contributor Matt K. Lewis wrote about how the advent of smart phones and instant live streaming has made it impossible to deny that black people are disproportionately subjected to police violence.
“In the era of Facebook Live and smart phones, it’s hard to come to any conclusion other than the fact that police brutality toward African-Americans is a pervasive problem that has been going on for generations,” Lewis wrote. “Seriously, absent video proof, how many innocent African-Americans have been beaten or killed over the last hundred years by the police—with little or no media coverage or scrutiny?”
In his piece, Lewis recognizes that growing up with the white privilege of unquestionably trusting the cops blinds people to the reality of police discrimination and brutality.
“If there’s any good to come from this horrible trend, it may be that the scales are coming off the eyes of a lot of well meaning, if naive, white Americans,” he wrote. “My hope is that this will change public opinion to the point that we can change public policy.”
Read Lewis’ essay in the Daily Caller here.
On RedState.com, managing editor Leon H. Wolf also recognized how his own privilege shaped his view of the cops.
“As the child of white parents who grew up in the rural panhandle of Texas, I was taught that police were there to help, any time I had a problem I should go to them,” he wrote. “Now imagine, for a minute, that your parents instead grew up as black people in the 50s or 60s in one of the many areas where police were often the agents of ― let’s call it what it was ― white oppression. How might that have changed, for understandable reasons, the way not only those people but also their children and their children’s children interact with the police?”
The distrust of police in communities of color, Wolf argued, is compounded by the fact that very few cops are convicted of a crime after using deadly force.
“I don’t think reasonable people can disagree that excessive police force is punished way less often than it actually happens,” Wolf wrote. “And that’s the kind of problem that leads to people taking up guns and committing acts of violence - tragically (and with evil intent) against cops who as far as we know have done nothing wrong.”
Read Wolf’s essay in RedState here.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R), whom presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump is reportedly considering as a running mate, also addressed the “everyday danger” faced by black Americans.
“Sometimes, for white people, it’s difficult to appreciate how real that is,” Gingrich said Friday. “It took me a long time, and a lot of people talking to me, to understand that if you are a normal white American, the truth is that you don’t understand being black in America.”
Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) also offered some empathetic thoughts on the root causes of the country’s racial divisions during a Friday interview with Fox News, urging communities to “come together” and try to understand one another better in the wake of the shootings.
“There are huge undercurrents in this country, and you have seen it with people who have been left out, people who do not have jobs, people who don’t perceive they could have a job in the future,” he said. “These divides are not being answered properly by our country, so we’re going to have to go back at it and understand what are the reasons why we have so many people unemployed and who consider themselves to be on the outs.”
Of course, these are just a few perspectives, and both the Daily Caller and RedState have previously criticized Black Lives Matter and the notion that police racism is a widespread, deadly problem. Last year, the Daily Caller published an op-ed by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) that claimed Martin Luther King Jr. “would be appalled” by the movement. RedState has also published contributions denying that the deaths of unarmed black men like Michael Brown and Eric Garner suggest a wider problem with law enforcement.
But these comments suggest that the pattern of violence against black Americans at the hands of police is just too clear to ignore, even for some of the nation’s most conservative publications and politicians.