What do domestic terrorism and white vigilante justice in the 1800’s have to do with today’s professional police force?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
But don’t think for one minute that this fact would stop Adam Malka from stating that they have everything to do with each other. In fact, he goes so far as to say that current day law enforcement turns a blind eye to white male violence, and it all started in the 1800’s in Baltimore.
A little background on Malka. He is a professor form the University of Oklahoma.
His bio on the History Department site reads:
Professor Malka is a historian of the 19th century United States. His research interests include the early U.S. republic, slavery and emancipation, liberalism, and policing and punishment.
He is the author of The Men of Mobtown: Policing Baltimore in the Age of Slavery and Emancipation (UNC Press, 2018), as well as the recent article “The Open Violence of Desperate Men: Rethinking Property and Power in the 1835 Baltimore Bank Riot,” which appeared in The Journal of the Early Republic.
He teaches courses on a wide range of topics, from The Age of Jefferson and Jackson to Slavery and Emancipation in the Atlantic World, American Capitalism, and Mass Incarceration. Professor Malka received his PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The professor recently wrote a perspective piece for the Washington Post. It was entitled ‘Why Law Enforcement Has a Blind Spot for White Male Violence.’
Those of you that are currently active in the law enforcement community, buckle up. Malka’s arguments create a bumpy ride.
While he does state facts, he also wanders through a myriad of opinionated suppositions.
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In his opening paragraph, he reminds us that the shooters in El Paso and Dayton were both white males. So was the shooter in the Pittsburgh synagogue, as was the man who killed 9 people at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina. All true statements.
He could have also included the Las Vegas shooter, the pair that started the modern mass shooting era at Columbine High School, and numerous other mass casualty events.
He was very specific in choosing the ones he did, because there are numerous other events that he could have used, but none of them would have supported his hypothesis.
What is Malka’s central thought? White male violence continues to thrive without a sustained response.
And the reason the Oklahoma educator provides for this: It is because of:
“The central role that white male vigilantes have played in the official policing process from the beginning, and particularly in the policing of racial minorities. Because violent white men have historically been the policing authorities, not the criminals, they helped to create a racialized legal system sympathetic to them and hostile to minorities — one that has proved deadly.”
Why aren’t all of these mass shootings treated as acts of domestic terrorism? The United States is a country where terrorism has long triggered fear and invasive policies, yet law enforcement agencies have shown a persistent blind spot for white men’s violence.
First, Mr. Malka. They are considered acts of domestic terror. In fact, one of the shooters you didn’t mention was the man who shot up the Pulse Nightclub. Why did he not make the cut? Because he was neither white nor a white supremacist. He was indeed a domestic terrorist.
Likewise, the brothers who planted the bombs during the Boston Marathon. They were also not white supremacist.
Let’s throw in the mass shooting in San Bernardino that was carried out in 2015. Not only were the shooters not white, they were not even all male.
How about the black man that starting sniping police who were on the streets in Dallas, providing security at a Black Lives Matters rally? How much of a white male violent offender was he?
Second, I believe that the members of the law enforcement community that run towards the shots and the danger and the uncertain outcome to protect the lives of people in the community that they serve would take extreme exception to your conclusion.
I look at video shot from cell phones on the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, showing officers running towards the sound of gun fire.
I look at the event you mentioned in your first paragraph, in Dayton, where police officers were able to locate the shooter and eliminate him within 30 seconds of the first shot he fired.
But luckily, we have folks like Mr. Malka who are at the ready to help us understand how life in Baltimore in 1830 shaped how police respond to violence today. In fact, Malka spends 9 paragraphs and 680 words explaining how life was in Baltimore almost 200 years ago.
He does try to come full circle for us. Of Baltimore’s connection to today’s societal woes, Malka concludes:
These trends continue in today’s policing. They are most apparent in the over-policing of communities of color — and in the blind spot our authorities have for angry white men.
White men don’t face the same degree of surveillance and scrutiny as minority populations. This helps to explain why U.S. law enforcement failed to see the threat of white supremacy and why it doesn’t know how to stop the increasing number of violent white men who kill.
White men’s vigilantism has advanced a form of domestic terrorism over the past two centuries: it has been central to the state’s humiliation, condemnation and subjugation of minority communities.
The links these perpetrators have had to the police establishment have thus muddied our definition of legitimate force, allowing white men to continue to inflict violence on society.
We would do well to reckon with such history so that we may finally see the face of modern terror for what it is, and for what color it so often wears.
But why does Malka believe that law enforcement has a blind spot? It is because he believes that cops are all made up of angry white men. He believes that white supremacy is at the heart of all the violent crimes in the U.S.
The fact that in Chicago alone, 71% of murders are carried out by people of color is completely lost on the scholar for the Sooner state.
The fact is Adam, that white men will enact violence. Black men will enact violence. Men of all colors will enact violence.
Racial tension is not the recurring reason for their outburst of violence. Until it is, stop race baiting. Stop leading people to believe that cops look the other way when the perpetrator of violence is white. Stop hiding behind your shield of intellectualism and see the real world as our law enforcement officers do.
You are in Norman, which is a suburb of Oklahoma City. I can get you hooked up to do a few weeks’ worth of ride-alongs with OKCPD. Let’s see if your perspective changes. I will bet it does.