Police Brutality and “The Great White Bigot”

by | Jan 18, 1999

“Larry, How do you feel about Tyisha Miller?” asked the radio critic during our interview. “Who?” I said. Wrong answer. “What do you mean, who?” she said. “Everyone’s talking about it.” “Well,” I said, “I’ve been on vacation. I’ve heard about her, but I don’t know enough yet to form an opinion.” “You don’t know […]
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

“Larry, How do you feel about Tyisha Miller?” asked the radio critic during our interview.

“Who?” I said.

Wrong answer.

“What do you mean, who?” she said. “Everyone’s talking about it.”

“Well,” I said, “I’ve been on vacation. I’ve heard about her, but I don’t know enough yet to form an opinion.”

“You don’t know enough yet to form an opinion!?” She sounded almost indignant.

“No, and I’m not gonna make one up just because you asked.”

Tyisha Miller is a 19-year-old black woman shot to death by the police.

Responding to a 911 call, four white Riverside, Calif., police officers (one Hispanic) found her locked in a car with a gun. (The autopsy determined her 50 percent above the legal limit of alcohol, with traces of marijuana in her system.)

The facts remain under investigation, but Miller might have been asleep, or in a coma, or experiencing a seizure. To retrieve the gun, the cops smashed the driver’s side window. Then, something went seriously wrong. Did she reach for her gun? Did she shoot? In any case, the police fired more than two dozen times, striking her 12 times. She died. The department placed the four officers on paid leave pending the department’s investigation, and the FBI also launched a review. At this point, this looks like excessive police force by fidgety officers.

Now back to the radio critic’s indignation at my failure to deliver an opinion on demand. This irritated me. Why? Guilt-ridden white liberals and black “activists” embrace a bogey man — “The Great White Bigot.” This worldview says, “We trace everything wrong with the ‘plight of minorities’ to white bigotry.” It’s the Johnnie Cochran Doctrine — “Race plays a part of everything in America.”

A serious issue, police brutality. But overall, racism in America is very much on the run. Many cities have black police chiefs and diverse forces. In Los Angeles, 50 percent of the street cops consist of women and minorities. But the “activists'” almost pathological focus on racism obscures the real, day-to-day assaults on our quality of life through failed policies.

Take schools. The Democratic Party, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the National Organization for Women all oppose vouchers, although “choice” seems effective, and urban parents want it.

Take crime. University of Chicago economist John Lott estimates that citizens use guns to thwart would-be attackers perhaps as often as 2 million times per year! Yet liberals and black leaders continue to decry the “proliferation” of guns in our society, demanding yet more restrictive gun-control laws. Might as well prescribe a pack of Marlboros to a lung cancer patient.

Take the “war on drugs.” Attorney General Janet Reno blames the drug trade for perhaps as much as half of all street crime. Columnist William F. Buckley says the drug war costs Americans more than $200 billion a year. High taxes, excessive regulation and silly licensing laws conspire to sneak-hike the cost to operate businesses in our cities.

This destroys jobs and erodes the tax base. Where is the anger? Where is the podium-thumping press conference by outraged politicians? Why does a black woman need to get a beautician’s license to braid hair? Why can’t a guy start a jitney service without an expensive government issued license?

But police brutality? Let’s march! String ’em up — trial to follow!

Note how loud the noise with a black victim and white cop. A couple of years ago in Compton, Calif., a videotape caught a black cop taking a nightstick to an Hispanic suspect. A two-day story. See, the perp’s “wrong color” failed to give the story legs.

And, a few years ago in Atlanta, some cops on a stakeout got involved in a wild shoot-out. An investigation later called the death of a suspect tantamount to an execution. Again, minor story. Why? The cops were black. The suspects were black. And the police chief of Atlanta is black.


Many “activists” use alleged police brutality to stir up emotion, thus creating the illusion of problem-solving, of being “down with the people.”

(Do “activists” take out malpractice insurance?) And white liberals focus on police brutality because it shows that they “feel our pain.”

Yes, we have bad cops, and they must be rooted out. But considering the problems facing urban America — illegitimacy, bad schools, crime, lack of business opportunities — Mark Fuhrman falls way down on the list.

Attacking bad cops, well, that’s easy. But attacking big government and the regulatory tax-and-spend mind-set that creates or makes worse many of our problems, well, that’s hard. That requires rethinking assumptions, naming names and running the risk of getting accused of “blaming the victim.”

That requires courage. But, then, isn’t that why we call them leaders?

This editorial is made available through Creator's Syndicate. Best-selling author, radio and TV talk show host, Larry Elder has a take-no-prisoners style, using such old-fashioned things as evidence and logic. His books include: The 10 Things You Can’t Say in America, Showdown: Confronting Bias, Lies and the Special Interests That Divide America, and What’s Race Got to Do with It? Why it’s Time to Stop the Stupidest Argument in America,.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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