Thursday, January 08, 2015

rule of law: is the NYPD under the control of its democratically elected civilian commander-in-chief or not?

Lynch on NPR again demanding an apology from De Blasio

NYTimes |  Who is to apologize for bias in policing in general, and generations of racially biased criminal justice, both of which have contributed to mass incarceration?

This isn’t only about where the apologies should begin, but where they should end.

Sure, we can search for ways to rationalize behaviors and responses, talking about personal choices, culture, crime and family structures, but those discussions mustn’t be — can’t be — separated from the context of history and the confines of institutional structures.

Lift that rock and all sorts of uncomfortable things come crawling out — a privilege made possible by plunder and oppression, intergenerational transfers of hopelessness bred by intergenerational societal exclusions — truly ugly things.

We have to decide what racial conciliation should look like in this country. Does it look like avoidance and go-along-to-get-along obsequiousness, or does it look like justice and acknowledgment of both the personal parts we play and the noxious structural bias enveloping us?

How is mutual understanding achieved without mutual respect being given and blame taken?
How do we reconcile ourselves to one another without the failures of the systems that govern us being laid bare before us?

It seems to me, in the New York standoff, that the mayor owes no apology for fighting to overturn stop-and-frisk, disclosing that he talked to his son about encounters with police officers, or being compassionate to protesters. That is the man New Yorkers elected.

This, to my mind, is an attack on him as an agent of change. It is a battle to see which arm has the most muscle: the one that wants to deny bias, explicit or implicit, in the exercise of its power while simultaneously clinging to that bias; or the one committed to questioning the power and acknowledging the bias. Eventually, we will have to wrestle with the question of which of those forces must win for us to be true and whole.