OK with you, the reader, if I have a different take on the Tyre Nichols killing in Memphis?
First, for the record: the guy sustained a criminally wrongful death, and the family should sue and collect a bundle from that wonderful liberal city that has had only one Republican mayor in the past 55 years. In 2020, Memphis had the second-worst crime record in the United States and was beaten only by Detroit. By the following year, Memphis had improved to being the No. 1 most dangerous city in America. Go Grizzlies! According to more recent FBI data, the total crime rate in Memphis is 237 percent higher than the national rate and 150 percent higher than the state’s crime rate.
Crime has gotten so bad under enlightened Democrat liberal woke leadership that the city started offering $15,000 signing bonuses to masochists willing to apply for police work. Not quite Aaron Judge signing numbers, but still a chunk of change. Quite an inducement: become a cop in the No. 1 crime capital of America and aim for glory. The average pay for a Memphis cop is $57,000, but rookies start at around $50K plus the bonus.
Now we come to the late Tyre Nichols. Never met the guy. Feel sorry for what happened to him. That should not happen to most people. A real tragedy. But…
I have reared four kids. I taught them many things. I taught them Torah. I taught them to recite prayers and blessings to thank G-d for their food and related gifts He showers upon us. I taught them how to play board games like checkers, chess, Taboo, Apples to Apples, Monopoly, and Risk. I taught them not to say the filthy and vile words that comprise so much of contemporary hip-hop and rap “music” lyrics. I taught them to say “please” and “thank you.” I encouraged them to do their homework every night. I taught them how to throw a ball “not like a girl” and how to bat.
And I taught them how to deal with police officers.
I taught my kids never, ever, ever to open their mouths disrespectfully to a cop. If a cop stops you unfairly for allegedly speeding or going through a stop sign or failing to have your headlights on at night, or whatever, you act respectfully, no matter how wrong the officer is. I double-stressed that to my son because, like me, his yarmulka would mark him as a Jew. Most cops are OK with that, but I know from personal experience that some cops are Nazis. OK? I know. There was the Huntington Beach officer who made outright Hitler comments to me when she perceived I ran a stop sign. At a political demonstration during my college years — 50 years ago — for freedom for Soviet Jewry from communist Russia, I was arrested and handcuffed. That part was fair because I was among several scores of us who were making a ruckus outside the Soviet Union’s U.N. Mission in Manhattan, and we got feisty. Fair is fair. But after the cop handcuffed me, he started scratching a small swastika into my arm with his fingernail. So I know about bad-apple cops.
But I taught my kids: You never argue with a cop. You never start up with a police officer. If the cop asks for your driver’s license and auto registration, and if it is in your glove compartment, ask the cop’s permission to open the glove compartment before you do it. He or she may be antsy or poorly trained, and may get the idea that you are going for a pistol. So ask permission first. Do whatever he or she says. Speak respectfully. If he or she tells you to get out of the car, get out. If he or she says to stay in the car, stay in. If the cop says to shut up, then stop talking. There will always be an opportunity later for you to come home, tell Daddy, and let’s figure out whether the stop was your bad, or whether we should make a “tzimmes” — a big to-do — about it. We can plead you to some dopey charge, and then you do Comedy Traffic School (which usually is not as funny as your Aba (Dad)), and it all is history, forgotten. Or we can fight it in traffic court. Or we can try some of the strategies that Uncle So-and-So has offered for beating a ticket legally.
But, whatever else you do, make the cop feel like you regard him as King Tut.
It strikes me that every single time there is another George Floyd — SAY HIS NAME (and also say Sandy Koufax, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Ted Williams, and Whitey Ford while you’re at it) — or Tyre Nichols or any of these other characters, the story always is identical after the screaming of “Racism! Racism!”: the victim tried running away from the police, wrestled with them, and went for their guns. Rodney King got tased, but he kept getting up and fighting like some Taser-Proof Zombie. George Floyd — SAY HIS NAME (and also say Ben Hecht and Mario Puzo and Tom Wolfe and Ayn Rand) — just would not get into that car. Michael Brown of Ferguson — “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot … While I Try Wresting the Cop’s Gun from His Holster So I Can Kill Him” — just would not comply with police orders and instead fought Officer Darren Wilson for his pistol. The result too often is a tire fire.
Our society does Black Americans no favors by reacting to each of these tragedies by screaming “Racism! Racism!” and “Black Lives Matter” and demanding we defund the police. The Left-Woke obsession with victimhood sends a message to fools that the cops do not deserve respect and that greater society will back up anyone who defies the cops at a traffic stop, particularly if he or she is DWB, Driving While Black. So defy the cop and run. We’ve got your back. And no bail.
Good luck to the Nichols family as they soon collect on Tyre’s wrongful death. Good luck to the Black Americans in San Francisco and their $5 million reparations. I have had to earn my living the old-fashioned way. Went to college. Went to grad school. Went to rabbinical school. Went to law school. Earned more degrees than a thermometer. Worked my way up one ladder after another. Sustained all kinds of abuse on the way up: (i) from isolated congregants who took out their pathologies, life failures, miserable marriages, and disappointments over their kids on their rabbi; (ii) from abusive law firm partners, one abuser per large firm of 100 or more decent attorneys; (iii) from Jew-haters who paths intersected with mine; and (iv) from law school administrators whose cancel cultures are so suffocating that I had to walk on eggshells for 20 years while rising to be one of the two most popular professors there.
That’s how I did it as the son of a wonderful father who worked 10 hours a day, six days a week, for his brother as a middleman at a stationery supplies store, and who died at 45 from leukemia before they developed marrow transplants. The son of a paternal grandfather who made matching vests a century ago for men with two-piece suits when the style changed to three-piece suits … and who then shifted to a pushcart when clothing styles changed back. The son of a maternal grandfather who hand-sewed dolls’ shoes until he no longer was needed. And then his immigrant wife, my grandmother, sold eggs on a street corner during the Depression. Later, my housewife Mom had to become a bookkeeper to support us four kids when my father unexpectedly died so young. That’s how we did it.
I am third-generation American. My grandparents all fled to America from Jew-hating muzhiks, pogromists, and tsars in Galicia and Russia. We all struggled in different ways to move up the ladder. None of us ever presented as victims, though we all could have devoted a lifetime to complaining about how life was unfair to us. We did it by following the rules, loving the kishkes (intestines) out of this wonderful country, and never arguing with the cops. No one in my extended family ever was shot by a cop. The skin of the swastika scratch has long since healed without a trace. The Nazi cop was suspended, and one day perhaps one of my kids will encounter one of his by circumstance and hopefully will drive that kid into bankruptcy or homelessness…
As long as the parents of the George Floyds — SAY HIS NAME (and also say Spartacus, Rick Blaine, George Bailey, Atticus Finch, and John McClane) — and Michael Browns and Tyre Nicholses fail to rear children to fear cops and never to run away when a cop says “Halt!” we will continue reading these Made-for-Antifa fiascoes. And when they scream “Racism! Racism!”, don’t break their concentration — bless their hearts — by telling them that all five cops who killed Nichols were Black. Diversity. Equality. Inclusion. That’s the ticket.