There’s nothing quite like the fury of a cornered political hack. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio gave a remarkable press conference on Monday afternoon where he blamed the media for creating the air of paranoia and racial tension currently hanging heavy over the Big Apple:
“What are you guys gonna do? Are you gonna keep dividing us?” de Blasio demanded of reporters, angry at them for daring to report the ugly behavior of certain demonstrators. You can tell from his body language that de Blasio feels the wall pressing hard against his back. He needed a scapegoat, fast, and chose one of the few institutions less respected than he is at the moment. That might not have been a smart pick, as politicians often learn when picking fights with the folks who buy ink by the barrel and pixels by the gigabyte.
A bizarre whiff of de Blasio’s authoritarian socialism hangs over even his last-ditch desperation plays. He’s not even really accusing the media of lying about anything here; he’s castigating them for daring to tell a truth he now finds politically inconvenient. He was, of course, singing a very different tune before the murders of Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos on Saturday afternoon. For the benefit of liberals frantically seeking to memory-hole the past month of incendiary rhetoric of their political leaders, here’s what prompted an NYPD police union to circulate a petition officially asking de Blasio to stay away from cop funerals, as reported by a decidedly non-right-wing source, the Huffington Post:
In his remarks Wednesday, the mayor, who is white, mentioned his son Dante, who is 16 and biracial. He spoke about the dangers Dante may face when interacting with police.
“This is profoundly personal to me,” de Blasio said. “I was at the White House the other day, and the president of the United States turned to me, and he met Dante a few months ago, and he said that Dante reminded him of what he looked like as a teenager. And he said, ‘I know you see this crisis through a very personal lens.’ And I said to him, I did.”
De Blasio went on to note that he and his wife, Chirlane McCray, who is black, “have had to talk to Dante for years about the dangers that he may face.”
The mayor described his son as “a good young man, [a] law-abiding young man who would never think to do anything wrong” — but he noted that “because of a history that still hangs over us, the dangers he may face, we’ve had to literally train him, as families have all over this city for decades, in how to take special care in any encounter he has with the police officers who are there to protect him.”
De Blasio’s remarks echoed the anxiety many families feel as police tactics across the country grow increasingly militarized and as officers continue to exercise lethal force on black men, women and children.
The mayor described “that painful sense of contradiction that our young people see first, that our police are here to protect us, and we honor that, and at the same time, there’s a history we have to overcome.”
“For so many of our young people, there’s a fear,” de Blasio said. “And for so many of our families, there’s a fear.”
Note the boldfaced editorial insertion from the Huffington Post. Nobody was having any trouble picking up the very lightly-encoded message of distrust for the police de Blasio was sending. Note also the White House connection. If de Blasio was recounting this encounter truthfully, it looks like Dante became an honorary stand-in for Barack Obama’s fabled Imaginary Son.
Those incendiary comments from de Blasio were uttered on December 3rd. He was still defiantly standing by them several days later, after an outcry from New York’s finest, as once again chronicled at HuffPo:
Speaking on ABC’s “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday, de Blasio said there was “so much misunderstanding” about what he meant.
“What parents have done for decades who have children of color, especially young men of color, is train them to be very careful when they have a connection with a police officer,” de Blasio said.
“It’s different for a white child. That’s just the reality in this country,” de Blasio went on. “And with Dante, very early on with my son, we said, look, if a police officer stops you, do everything he tells you to do, don’t move suddenly, don’t reach for your cell phone, because we knew, sadly, there’s a greater chance it might be misinterpreted if it was a young man of color.”
The lack of indictments in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner has led to widespread protests and sparked a national conversation on police use of force, particularly when it comes to African-American men.
“I’m just saying what people are actually experiencing and have been for decades,” de Blasio said Sunday. “I’ve talked to a lot of families of color, well before this time, because I’ve said things like this before. And they’ve said to me over and over and over again that they appreciate someone finally acknowledging that they have that conversation with their sons. It’s a painful conversation. You can sense there’s a contradiction in that conversation.”
He also blamed the rest of America for a legacy of systemic racism, a sin that only top liberal clergy like Bill de Blasio can ever absolve. (Hint: they never will, although they’ve got plenty of expensive ideas for penance.) “We have a whole series of things we have to do to change the dynamics in our city. This is true all over the country,” he said in a December 7 interview. “We have to re-train police forces in how to work with communities differently. We have to work on things like body cameras that would provide different levels of transparency and accountability. This is something systemic. And we bluntly have to talk about the historic racial dynamics underlie this.”
He also pulled back the tab on the canned liberal bleat about needing “an honest conversation in this country about the history of racism,” a conversation the left instantly loses its taste for the instant one side begins talking back. “Honest conversation” is a phrase almost universally employed as code for “shut up while we lecture you.”
But now, with the blood of slain officers pooling at his feet, de Blasio wants you to forget he said all that stuff and acknowledge him as a stalwart champion of the wonderful police officers he had to train his son to approach very carefully, lest they randomly gun him down in a way they would never dream of slaughtering a white kid.
He was nowhere to be found when the police needed his support, but now that he senses he’s gone too far and needs a thin blue line to hide behind, de Blasio is suddenly all about respect for the tough job law enforcement is called upon to perform. Oddly enough, he still doesn’t seem to be rushing to take responsibility for the cigarette laws the police were enforcing when Eric Garner chose to resist arrest.
Is there anyone foolish enough to swallow de Blasio’s act? He was one of numerous Democrat political figures who wanted to ride the tide of anti-police sentiment on a rhetorical surfboard, eager to make the demonstrators think he was ready to whip off his jacket and march right alongside them, no matter how… aggressive their critique of law enforcement might be. He’s validated all of their most disruptive paranoid fantasies. Now that his surfboard ride is at an end, and he’s wiping out on the blood-dimmed tide, it’s time to reinvent himself as a law-and-order guy who has the highest respect for the police… while ordering the media, in so may words, to airbrush the worst excesses of the mob out of their reporting, reinventing the Michael Brown and Eric Garner protests into something akin to a Tea Party rally.
Oddly enough, de Blasio is also calling for protests to be put “on hold” until after the funerals of Liu and Ramos. Why should that be necessary, Mr. Mayor, if they’re the well-behaved, constructive expressions of robust democracy you claim they are?
If the mainstream press is tempted to follow de Blasio’s orders instead of pushing back against his bullying, let me remind you ladies and gentlemen of the newsroom that the Internet never forgets.