When political correctness endangers the community
The Kansas City Star recently reported on a minor incident at the Country Club Plaza, a popular upscale shopping area. Someone fired a shot in a public square full of citizens. Police immediately responded and tweeted a warning to people in the area. Based on witness reports, they described the suspect with the only information that they had at the time as being a "black male." Thirty-three minutes later, police apprehended the suspect, who fit the description.
Unfortunately, the story did not end there. Activists who saw the tweet complained that it unfairly profiled the suspect. One said that for 33 minutes, 64,000 black males in the surrounding area became suspects. The absurd commentary claimed that all these suspects were endangered because of the institutional racism inside police departments. Police officers were more likely to shoot a suspect based on this description than any other.
The minor incident is a typical indication of just how far political correctness has gone. Now even the endangerment of residents is allowable. Police can no longer describe the threat to an area packed with shoppers who are oblivious to the danger of a shooter. In these cases, immediate action is needed, and there is no time to be politically correct. The police have a duty to protect people and property. They need to warn people in real time with the information at hand.
Any description of an alleged criminal will necessarily create categories of suspects. When there is no description, everyone becomes a suspect. By describing a suspect as white or black, male or female, young or old, police create fewer suspects, not more.
Following the incident, the police were asked to take measures so that the same "mistake" would not be repeated. What makes it even more bizarre is that the operation was completely successful, and the suspect description was entirely accurate.
The error involved in this case is not on the part of the police. They did their job. Rather, it is on the part of activists who have imposed their narrative upon the incident to the detriment of those endangered by violence.
Ironically, the activists are guilty of the same thing they accused the police of: the use of generic classifications. In the case of the police, this use of generic descriptions (supported by witnesses) worked to catch the suspect. In the case of the activists it only served an agenda and endangered the public.
They made the general assumption that all police are racists – even African-American officers. They assumed that all police would use violence against black male suspects, which is also not the case and indeed did not happen with the suspect. They dramatized the incident by claiming that police created tens of thousands of suspects, yet all of those involved were oblivious to their 33-minute status as suspects. While using generic affirmations, they will also use isolated episodic incidents of violence as proof that their generic assertions are always correct. According to their logic, one unarmed black male was shot. Therefore, all will be shot by police.
Behind the activists' narrative is a class struggle mentality. It pits rich against poor, black against white, liberal against conservative. It is part of the Marxist dialectic philosophy that claims that struggle is necessary and desirable to bring about revolution. That is why they lose no opportunity to take advantage of a crisis or an isolated incident to fit their narrative and advance their agenda.
That is not to say that injustices do not happen or that bias cannot exist. However, the Christian approach is to acknowledge that man is fallen and there will always be injustice in the world. The Christian works together with others (not against others) to minimize these injustices in an atmosphere of Christian social harmony and charity.
The solution is not to use politically correct formulas that endanger the public.
John Horvat II is a scholar, researcher, educator, international speaker, and author of the book Return to Order, as well as the author of hundreds of published articles. He lives in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania, where he is the vice president of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property.