Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and some other Republicans are making that provocative charge. If nothing else, the allegation seems sure to heighten the national debate about Ferguson, Mo., and stoke relations between the police and minorities to a new level of intensity.
“It’s a pretty safe bet that issues of race and police will gain even more immediacy in the days and weeks ahead,” noted Aaron Blake at the "The Fix" political blog of The Washington Post on Monday morning.
As a mayor, Mr. Giuliani was a staunch law-and-order politician who defended police and fought back against New York City’s rising crime rate. Now he says that protests of police misconduct in regard to the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in Staten Island have fueled a national climate that led to the execution-style killings of New York police officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.
Here’s Giuliani on Fox News on Sunday describing this belief at length:
“We’ve had four months of propaganda starting with the president that everybody should hate the police,” Giuliani said. “The protests are being embraced, the protests are being encouraged. The protests, even the ones that don’t lead to violence, a lot of them lead to violence; all of them lead to a conclusion: The police are bad, the police are racist. That is completely wrong.”
He’s not the only voice on the right saying this. At the conservative National Review Online this morning Peter Kirsanow makes a similar assertion even more forcefully.
“The responsibility for the shootings in New York rests with the shooter,” writes Mr. Kirsanow. “But the responsibility for the worst racial climate in two generations lies largely with the demagogues in our nation’s leadership who are too busy whining about the horrors of being mistaken for a valet to do the hard work of confronting the country’s toughest challenges.”
The “valet” phrase there is a reference to Mr. Obama, who noted in recent interview with People Magazine that he’s been mistaken for a waiter and a car valet on occasion at black-tie events.
This assertion of blame is far from universal on the right. Others say it goes much too far to blame individual criminality on a vague collective climate of hate.
But there’s a double standard at work here, some conservatives say, as Democrats charged that a climate of hate from Republicans such as Sarah Palin led to the shooting former US Representative Gabby Giffords.
“Every group, of course, has some bad actors. But we should be on guard against developing bigoted responses that apply to groups instead of individuals,” writes Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist.
Democrats and those further left on the political spectrum have reacted differently to these statements from Giuliani and others. Some say they’re outraged that Giuliani in particular has linked Obama with any irresponsible rabble-rousing, given that Obama, in their view, has made nothing but mild and fact-based racial references since the Ferguson riots began.
There’s a reason Giuliani et al. don’t actually mention any of Obama’s actual words when making their charges, adds Paul Waldman at The Washington Post’s left-leaning "Plum Line" blog. That’s because they’d undercut the assertion, according to Mr. Waldman.
Every time he’s spoken about these recent racial issues, Obama has stressed that violence of any kind is unacceptable, even in response to legitimate grievances. In every public statement he includes praise of the police, says Waldman.
Polls show racial issues are weighing on the minds of the public, both blacks and whites, as much as they have in decades. That’s one undeniable result of Ferguson and related incidents. Giuliani’s words show how far apart the sides are in their perceptions of the problems underlying this situation.