Where Is The Good Will To Men?

Dec 28, 2014 by

Instead of having a feeling of peace on earth and good will to men during this holiday season, I was deeply saddened to witness an exchange of accusations, insults and recriminations immediately following the deaths of two New York City police officers. I felt sick to my stomach as I read the politicizing of the tragedy.

After the deaths of a number of unarmed black men in confrontations with police officers, there was growing angst no charges were filed after each case worked its way through the legal system. In two of the most prominent cases — Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York City — a grand jury made the decision. Many felt that justice was not served.

In the Ferguson case, we know that Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown. We don’t know for certain if it was justified as self-defense, with the officer fearing for his life as he stated to the grand jury. Without a trial and the ability to cross-examine witnesses, it was difficult to glean all the facts.

Despite the calls for nonviolence, a small number of thugs destroyed police cars, burned buildings and looted businesses, turning public opinion against the many peaceful protesters.

In New York City a grand jury came back with a similar decision — not to indict. In this case, the nation was stunned. Eric Garner’s death was caught on video showing him pleading with officers who had him in some type of a chokehold. He repeated the words “I can’t breathe.” Peaceful protesters took to the streets to demand justice.

Police officers felt they were being unfairly vilified while minorities felt they were being unfairly targeted. President Obama called for tolerance and mutual respect and formed a task force to address the lack of trust between law enforcement and minority communities.

News coverage was excessive. Political, religious and civic leaders were inciting their respective followers.

It came to a head when two police officers sitting in their police car on patrol in Brooklyn were shot and killed by a 28-year-old with a criminal record and a history of mental illness. The shooter later took his own life. The nation was grief-stricken by the senseless murders of Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu.

A lone shooter was solely responsible for their deaths but that didn’t stop the demagoguery. The shooter had broadcast his plans to kill cops on social media and mentioned Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Protesters, supporters of protesters and anyone who wasn’t firmly and exclusively on the side of law enforcement were considered accomplices.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was criticized for instructing his mixed-race teenage son on how to behave if approached by the police to avoid a confrontation. The police union leader accused him of having blood on his hands. And video showed police officers disrespectfully turning their backs on the mayor as he passed them.

But there was plenty of nastiness for others as well. After falsely accusing President Obama of saying everybody should “hate the police,” former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, on Fox News, said politicians’ rhetoric, as well as protests, exacerbate the tension. He apparently missed the irony.

Former New York Gov. George Pataki felt the need to blame Attorney General Eric Holder of “divisive anti-cop rhetoric.”

And a Fox affiliate in Baltimore edited protesters’ chants so it would appear they were saying, “kill a cop.” The station has since apologized, calling it “an honest misunderstanding.”

But the worst comments came from social media, where some tweeted their glee over death threats on Al Sharpton. Vile insults were exchanged in a highly partisan fashion.

We, as a nation, are better than that.

One shouldn’t feel compelled to choose a side. We all should support law enforcement — with proper funding, training and respect. We should also respect life — regardless of color or class.

Our law enforcement officials should be appreciated for putting their lives in danger every day to keep our communities safe. But those who abuse their power and violate the public trust should be held accountable.

Officers have to make split-second decisions that can result in tragic outcomes. Some deference should be given to mistakes made in good faith, especially when citizens ignore their instructions. A lack of trust and respect has led to a breakdown in the relationship between law enforcement and citizens.

A compassionate and civil society should grieve for the loss of each of these lives and work together to build the trust needed to bridge this gap.

As Christians celebrate the birth of their savior, Jesus Christ, perhaps we should pause and ask ourselves — what would Jesus do? And how would he want us to treat our brothers?

Paula Dockery is a syndicated columnist who served in the Florida Legislature for 16 years as a Republican from Lakeland. She can be reached at PBDockery@gmail.com.



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2 Comments

  1. Kathie Bridges

    Dear Ms. Dockery,

    I was really disappointed in the above column published in the Tampa Tribune last week, “Where Is the Goodwill to Men?” particularly the first several paragraphs. You have joined the rabble-rousing mass media by repeating the hype without truly investigating the witness testimonies presented to grand juries. You might be interested in reading Thomas Sowell’s December 30th column entitled, “Are Facts Obsolete?”

    • Paula Dockery

      You miss the point. Facts come out in trials
      P