American Elephants


A College President Had to Apologize for Saying “All Lives Matter” by The Elephant's Child

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Smith College President Kathleen McCartney believed she was showing solidarity with students, protesting racism and police brutality when she sent out an email to the entire campus with the subject line: “All Lives Matter.”

The slogan preferred by Smith College students was the more exclusionary “Black Lives Matter.” Have to show our solidarity with the protesters half a continent away who are burning up the town of Ferguson, Missouri because of a tragic incident that had nothing whatsoever to do with race.

Students were not only furious, but offended, according to Fox News.

mccartneysmithPresident McCartney apologized profusely in a second email, saying she had made a mistake “despite my best intentions. I regret that I was unaware the phrase/hashtag “all lives matter” has been used by some to draw attention away from the focus on institutional violence against Black people,”

Well, Ms McCarthy was right in the first place. Our college campuses are well-known as centers of political correctness. Students are there to study because they are young and short on knowledge and experience. The evidence shows that Michael Brown’s killing was not a racial event, nor was the death of Eric Garner. Tragic indeed, but not about race.

Black communities are inclined to have a higher incidence of crime, and the police trying to protect the community are at much higher risk. Crime is decreasing. Most young black men who are killed are killed by other young black men − not by police. Sure there are some bad apples in the nation’s police forces, but for the most part their training emphasizes ways to avoid harm and any excessive use of force. It’s a tough job.

Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) says the silencing of McCartney is just one more example of the grip of political correctness on college campuses. Increasing numbers of teenagers are learning the wrong lessons about speech. They believe they have a right not to encounter ideas that might conflict with their feelings. They need to learn that not every hashtag that comes over the internet is a valid battlecry, and the difference between propaganda and reality.



War, Torture, Brutality and Feinstein. by The Elephant's Child

About-The-Department-of-Veterans-Affairs-resized-6001Wars are about killing people and breaking things until the other side is utterly defeated, ready to give up so totally that they cannot and will not fight any more. To say that war is ugly is a dreadful understatement.

It has always seemed to me that those who have not been to war have an obligation to study war — to try to understand what others have done and gone through on their behalf. It has been a long time since Americans have had a war on their homeland. When the Civil War broke out in 1860, some of the citizens of Washington DC, men and the ladies, drove out in their carriages with picnic lunches to see the war in Virginia.

Public understanding is often a long time coming.

One of the leftist media’s favorite terms is “war weary.” I suspect it had its origin in public dissatisfaction with the Vietnam War, but I don’t know that to be the case. World War II is supposed to be “the Good War,” partly because the public was deeply involved, with rationing and war-work when ordinary people went to factories to build tanks and airplanes and ships, bought war bonds, and hungered for more news to see if their loved ones were still safe. Never mind that it was a long, desperate bloody awful mess for which we were unprepared, but VE Day and the day of the Japanese surrender were huge celebrations.

Vietnam was deeply unpopular until the danger of being drafted was over, and then the protesters lost interest. The good war only lasted for  four years, which has become the acceptable length for a war.

There’s  lot of hangover from those war-weary Democrats. I think they were astounded at the backlash to Dianne Feinstein’s one-sided release of a classified CIA torture report. She has been called a traitor, among other things.

The late Fouad Ajami wrote in the Wall Street Journal in March of 2013:

Nowadays, few people step forth to speak well of the Iraq War, to own up to the support they gave that American campaign in the Arab world. Yet Operation Iraqi Freedom, launched 10 years ago this week, was once a popular war. We had struck into Afghanistan in 2001 to rout al Qaeda and the terrorists’ Taliban hosts—but the 9/11 killers who brought ruin onto American soil were not Afghan. They were young Arabs, forged in the crucible of Arab society, in the dictators’ prisons and torture chambers. Arab financiers and preachers gave them the means and the warrant for their horrific deeds. …

On the eve of Operation Iraqi Freedom—the first bombs fell on March 19—well over 70% of the American public supported upending the Saddam regime. The temptation to depict the war as George W. Bush’s and Dick Cheney’s is convenient but utterly false. This was a war waged with congressional authorization, with the endorsement of popular acceptance, and with the sanction of more than a dozen United Nations Security Council resolutions calling for Iraq’s disarmament. …

It was no fault of the soldiers who fought this war, or of the leaders who launched it, that their successors lacked the patience to stick around Iraq and safekeep what had been gained at an incalculable cost in blood and treasure.

Headline from a June 7, 2014 piece by Walter Russell Mead, a Professor of Foreign Affairs at Bard College and Editor-at-Large at the American Interest Magazine: “Have We Gone From a Post-War to a Pre-War World?”

Reason magazine’s upcoming January issue has a picture of the Islamic State terrorist who beheaded American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotioff on the cover. The media has blurred videos of the beheadings and in another case, a picture of a small ISIS child holding the head of a victim to spare the sensitivities of the American public. Is this right? Do we need protection from reality, or in sparing us do they deprive us of understanding?

Speaking of torture — Islamic State terrorists are trying to sell the headless body of James Foley to his parents for $1 million. The Islamic State, al Qaeda and other radical Middle East groups have long grotesque records of torture.

Major General Scales was the commandant of the Army War College, now retired. He wrote in the Wall Street Journal about the ISIS Way of War. We know that brutality, but we have trouble facing up to it.

Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster wrote recently about “Thinking Clearly About War and the Future of Warfare−The US Army Operating Concept. It’s worth your time.



A Steady Decrease In Numbers of People Who Have Interactions With Police by The Elephant's Child

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In 1994, Congress passed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. The law mandated that the attorney general begin studying the excessive use of force by police, and reporting on their findings. The Bureau of Justice Statistics developed a series of ongoing statistics that measured police behavior in specific situations and incidents in which police use force—like riots and mob behavior. Much of the data was based on direct surveys of citizens rather than reports by local police departments. These surveys and statistics have provided two decades of information on how the police interact with American citizens and how American citizens interact with police.

If it was presumed that the statistics would provide insight for national debates about the use of force by police, the presumption was apparently wrong. When the grand jury reached its decision not to indict police officer Darrell Wilson, the President of the United States jumped into the Missouri debate and told the nation that “the law too often feels like it’s being applied in a discriminatory fashion.”

The New York Times published stories about communities where minorities get stopped more frequently than whites, completely ignoring the statistics from the Bureau of Justice that show that crime victims identify minorities as more frequent perpetrators of crime. There has also been a steady decrease in numbers of people who have interactions with the police. There has been a drop in crime as well. The numbers of people who report crimes to the police  has fallen from 664,000 in 2002 to 574,000 in a 2010 report. The number of African-Americans who reported that police had used force against them fell from 173,000 to 130,000, for whites the number dropped from 374,000 to 347,000. The situations which caused the use of force were not listed.

President Obama helpfully added to the debate, saying that “bad training” and “a fear of folks who look different” in some police departments has contributed to the  ongoing mistrust between law enforcement and minority communities. He claimed that “this is a national problem that’s going to require a national solution.”

The president has announced a new task force on policing that will examine “how to promote effective crime reduction while building public trust” according to the White House. A task force focused on police behavior is really not what is called for.

Michael Brown and Eric Garner’s deaths are human tragedies, but they are not emblematic of police overreach or abuse. Grand juries, in both cases examined all the evidence and declined to bring charges against the police. Young black men are far more likely to be shot by one another than by a police officer. Jason Riley adds:

There were about 6,300 black homicides in the U.S. last year, according to the FBI, and 85% involved black civilian perpetrators. Police officers, by contrast, were responsible for 3% of deaths, which in most cases resulted from the victim assaulting the officer (Brown) or resisting arrest (Garner). Nor do the data suggest that trigger-happy officers are gunning down black men for minor offenses.

Street protests continue, egged on by professional protesters, and universities like Columbia and Harvard which have encouraged students to work through their trauma from the two cases and postpone exams if they were too upset. Professional  protesters, anarchists, socialist activists and a lot of useful idiots from assorted colleges. The more dramatic protests are in all the usual cities, and “Die-Ins” seem to be the preferred mode. Kind of embarrassing.




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