Binoy Kampmark, who teaches at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, wrote a piece “analyzing” conservative commentary in the wake of the grand jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson. Kampmark has been associated with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and unsuccessfully ran for the Australian Senate under the Wikileaks Party banner. In addition to taking Larry and I to task, Kampmark also criticizes NRO’s Rich Lowry and Ian Tuttle. Here is what Kampmark writes about Thornberry and me:
The conservative press outlets, and certain commentators, have resorted to various tricks of the debate vocation – attack the dead man Michael Brown and make sure that he is buried again. Hollow him out, mock him for his moral laxness. If such a man be shot, who cares? He did not follow the legal code that is, we are told, colour blind. Certainly, we can expect little by way of sympathy from Aaron Goldstein of The Spectacle BloginThe American Spectator(November 24). Goldstein takes a good dump on President Barack Obama, and in many ways, he will have support for that. “Obama has no credibility when it comes to talking about law enforcement.”
But the concern from Goldstein’s side is that Obama was foolish to bring Michael Brown into his UN General Assembly address two months ago. America’s domestic scene is not worth mentioning in the same breath as other international incidents – we saw that constantly in the propaganda fronts of the Cold War. Jim Crow was the grandest of Achilles heels in the disconcerting slush about one person and one vote. The US could still proclaim civil liberties while many states within it kept segregation alive. Liberty need not be equal to be valid.
This habit was not so easily junked. American exceptionalism has a tendency of winding its way back into the rhetorical battle field about domestic failings. There is only glamor, virtue and wickedness. Why, suggests Goldstein, mix the matter of Brown’s death with Middle East instability and the problems of Ukraine and Russia? Obama should have mentioned that “this young man had robbed a store a short time before his death.”
Keep it simple. Had Brown been compliant, he would still be alive. (The fact that this point is hopelessly moot doesn’t discourage the commentator.) “Perhaps this young man would still be alive had he obeyed Officer Wilson’s commands. Perhaps this young man would still be alive had he not physically accosted Officer Wilson.” Perhaps Brown might be alive if the trigger thrill had not taken hold of Officer Wilson, or the blood mist cloud judgment. In US policing, which is now a pseudo-military affair, the citizen is the problem.
Ditto Larry Thornberry, also writing forThe American Spectator. “Michael Brown orchestrated the circumstances of his own death. He has no claim to our sympathy. He was not a victim.” Thornberry finds a monster before him – not the police officer but a person who “attacked and attempted to kill or do great bodily harm to a police officer who stopped him in relation to a robbery Brown had just committed.” A bit more than an accosting, it seems. With such logical argument, all thieves should be shot. Feel sympathy, instead, for Darren Wilson, who “had his life torn apart for the offenses of doing his duty and being white.” Colour arguments are everywhere, even when cloaked in the serenity of sound judgment.
I’ll let Larry speak for himself concerning Kampmark’s critique of his blog post if he is so inclined. But the above, I think, illustrates the inability of the Left at large to argue in a coherent manner. Kampmark accuses us of attacking a dead man, but he is perfectly happy to engage in character assassination against Wilson. He also equates Brown’s death with Jim Crow. It’s kind of like when Harry Reid compared those who opposed the passage of Obamacare to supporters of slavery. This kind of demagoguery has become de rigueur on the Left.
So where does Kampmark get the idea that Wilson was overcome with “trigger thrill”? Wilson had never used his weapon in the line of duty previously and I seriously doubt he had any plans to do so when he asked Brown to go to the sidewalk. What does Kampmark think Wilson ought to have done when Brown tried to take his gun away from him? For months we have been sold a bill of goods which read, “Hands up, Don’t Shoot”. Had Wilson shot Brown as he had been surrendering then it would warrant criminal charges against Wilson. But the evidence did not support this assertion. Kampmark argues Brown’s non-compliance and initiating a physical confrontation with Wilson is moot. What a load of fatuous nonsense. Whether the Kampmarks of the world like it or not, the police have a right to defend themselves if someone is stupid enough to try to forcibly take their weapon away from them and, if necessary, use lethal force. I have no doubt that Wilson and most police officers in his position would prefer such a confrontation not end in the loss of life. But sometimes this cannot be avoided.
This isn’t to say there aren’t police who abuse the power bestowed upon them or use poor judgment which results in tragic consequences. It will be interesting to see what happens concerning the police shooting which took place the other day in Brooklyn claiming the life of Akai Gurley. At this point, it appears that Gurley had not presented any danger to authorities nor engaged in any criminal activity. But even if the circumstances warrant the NYPD officer to be charged with criminally negligent homicide or some other offense, we cannot then jump to the conclusion that this behavior is representative of law enforcement at large and must vigorously reject such arguments.
Since the grand jury did not see fit to charge Darren Wilson with Michael Brown’s death, the Left not only wants to put a noose around Wilson’s neck, it wishes to delegitimize police officers altogether. This is something for which Larry and I won’t stand and if our stand manages to annoy a left-wing academic half way around the world then we have done our job.