THE TYRANNY OF WORDS.
Police Chief Bill Bratton is in a world of hurt these days for using three words he probably wishes had never been invented. The words were "tribal," "thugs," and "terrorists." He's also on the record for calling Najee Ali a "nitwit." Ali is an activist who is under investigation for a hit-and-run charge and for identity theft. Something which in fact may qualify him as a nitwit. Early on in his tenure, a heckler yelled at Bratton to control his cops. Bratton responded with, "Control your children."
After every one of these incidents, Bratton has apologized. But the apologies only seem to stoke the fires. If I were Bratton, I'd stop apologizing.
Yesterday, July 11, Bratton, David Cunningham and Andre Birotte (both on the Police Commission) attended a meeting in Leimert Park. Also present were Danny Bakewell, Councilman Bernard Parks and Tony Muhammad from the Nation of Islam. During the meeting, they showed the video of car-thief Stanley Miller being tackled and hit with a flashlight.
It was basically Bratton's turn in the barrel where the assembled citizens and activists vented their anger at the LAPD. Among the many unpleasant things hurled at Bratton was Muhammad's claim that Bratton had the mentality of a white supremicist and that the LAPD was rooted in racism. Muhammad also said the LAPD has, "no moral authority."
First of all, anyone from the Nation of Islam should be dis-invited to any future meetings of any kind. NOI is at heart a racist and separatist organization. The fundamental belief of NOI is that at one time, there was only the black race. A black scientist created a white man in his laboratory, the experiment went sideways, the white creature escaped and went on to procreate the white race that eventually subjugated its creators. In the U.S., you're free to believe any fantasy you want. And the rest of us are also free to believe you're full of shit. NOI also despises interracial marriage. And they reserve a special animosity for Jews. Louis Farrakhan has called Judaism a "gutter religion" and is full of interesting theories about Jewish conspiracies for world domination. You know. The stuff that played so well to packed stadiums in Germany in the 1930s. NOI also has proven ties to fun guys like Lybian psycho Muammar Qaddafi. In 1987 NOI leader Louis Farrakhan introduced Jeff Fort, leader of Chicago's Blackstone Rangers gang, to Qaddafi. As a token of esteem, Qaddafi gave Fort a surface to air missile which Fort smuggled back to Chicago. No doubt it was to help bring "peace" to the streets.
If I were Bratton, I would never appear on the same stage with the Nation of Islam. Their agenda is to separate the races. Their beliefs are the mirror image of the Aryan Nations and other white supremists. They both want a final "purifying" race war and the ultimate devolution of the U.S. into what? Tribal states segrated by race.
And if I were Bratton, I would not apologize for using those three words. I don't believe Bratton has a racist cell in his body. And let's face it, "tribal" "thugs" and "terrorists" is fairly apt. In his book ALWAYS RUNNING, Luis Rodriguez' first gang was called "The Animal Tribe." They not only considered themselves tribal but also less than human. And you guys reading this know as well as anybody the names homies choose for their sets -- Locos, Diablos, Killers, Assassins, Winos, Mob and even Crazy Ass.
As for Thugs, a lot of you guys reading this hang that name on yourselves with a certain machismo pride. Some guys I know would be insulted if you didn't think were thugs. Anybody remember THUG LIFE? And KNIGHTOWL has a romantic ballad with the chorus that goes, "Daddy I'm in love with a thug, don't be mad 'cause I'm in love with a gangster." Cool song by the way. But it's self-descriptive. Nobody hung that on him.
As to terrorists, there's no doubt that doing crimes in the neighborhood terrorizes the innocent and the law-abiding. Why do cops have a hard time finding wits after a homicide or a shooting? Because the wits are afraid. And another word for fear is terror. So yeah. It fits.
The word thing cuts both ways, however. There's plenty of name calling to go around on both sides of the law. There are special police units in this city and all over the state that give themselves macho names -- GRIM REAPERS comes to mind -- that don't look so good. My sense is that they'd be a lot better off if they stuck to simple stuff like SPECIAL ENFORCEMENT UNIT and OPERATION SAFE STREETS. I mean, who could find fault with SAFE STREETS?
I can appreciate the fact that high-risk door-buster units need to create unit esprit and a cool moniker helps build the necessary cohesion. There's no argument that law enforcement is a paramilitary enterprise and trigger pullers and dynamic entry teams need more than a paycheck to get their race face on and do a job that can get them killed. Let's be honest. Most civilians would not put their skins on the line every day for the kind of money cops make. You can make a lot more money in office work and never risk anything more serious than a paper cut. But at the same time, if a cop doesn't want to be called a storm trooper, it might be a good idea to drop the unit names that would imply that kind of mentality.