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Why can’t we talk about ideology’s role when killers aren’t white?

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Why can’t we talk about ideology’s role when killers aren’t white?

When mental illness leads unstable individuals to commit crimes, it’s best to avoid drawing quick political conclusions about their motives. Yet that didn’t stop the media from speculating feverishly about “white supremacy” when a man went on a shooting rampage in Atlanta last month that left eight people dead, including six Asian women.

Numerous commentators and at least two Democratic senators, Tammy Duckworth and Raphael Warnock, immediately jumped to the conclusion that he was motivated by race hatred. With race being almost the sole obsession of our political class, the search for a motive often begins and ends with that catch-all explanation — that is, so long as the racial dynamics fit the intersectional narratives of the cultural left.

In fact, mental illness is often key to understanding mass shootings, but far too often the discussion veers off into attempts to blame them exclusively on ideology, especially far-right ideology. The result is an impoverished national conversation — and an inability to understand how extremist ideology can catastrophically unhinge men and women who are already half-unhinged.

That seems to have been what occurred last week when another disturbed individual attacked the US Capitol. Twenty-five-year-old Noah Green drove his car into two officers of the Capitol Police, killing one and injuring another, before getting out and brandishing a knife; cops then fatally shot him.

The more we learn about Green, a once-promising former college football player and aspiring financial adviser, the more it seems that his actions flowed from a volatile admixture of severe mental illness and toxic indoctrination.

Green reportedly believed that the CIA was controlling his mind. He blamed his former football teammates for drugging him. He suffered hallucinations and illnesses related to drug use. His social-media posts spoke of mysterious home invasions and unauthorized hospital operations. His writings bespeak a tortured mind desperately in need of help.

But it’s also impossible to ignore the fact that in recent years, Green had fallen under the spell of Louis Farrakhan. Indeed, just hours before he drove his car into those Capitol cops, he was posting links to the Nation of Islam leader’s maniacal speeches and writings (“The US government is the No. 1 enemy of black people!”).

Though Green’s problems didn’t begin with a belief that Farrakhan was “Jesus, the Messiah,” the Nation of Islam’s paranoiac, anti-white and anti-Semitic ideology may have tipped him into taking violent action.

A lack of corroborating evidence didn’t stop the elite blue-check class from attributing the Atlanta killings to white supremacy. Yet those same talking heads appear to be completely uninterested in whether Farrakhan’s bigotry may have been a factor in Green’s motivations.

True, the presence of Farrakhan’s hateful ideology in his life shouldn’t lead us to brush aside Green’s illness. But we also shouldn’t quickly consign to the memory-hole the killer’s interest in the Nation of Islam.

Our media betters wouldn’t hesitate to focus exclusively on white racist groups if Green had been one of their adherents. But the Nation of Islam receives different treatment.

The New York Times, for example, almost instantly cast doubt on any links between Farrakhan’s hate and violence. The paper quoted an “expert” who dismissed the connection, noting that the Nation of Islam has a lower “body count” than white racists.

The problem here isn’t just that society still doesn’t prioritize helping the mentally ill. Our mainstream media and pop culture continue to give a pass to Farrakhan, a man with a following of hundreds of thousands. With statistics showing that most hate crimes against Jews and Asians are committed by African Americans, it’s time to start treating his widespread influence as a serious problem.

Yet the Grammy telecast recently featured the Farrakhan supporter and Black Lives Matter advocate Tamika Mallory, and mainstream political figures like former President Bill Clinton have no problem sharing a stage with the Farrakhan.

As the probe proceeds, it may well turn out that Farrakhan’s hate triggered Green’s final descent into violent madness. The old bigot doesn’t deserve the free pass he still receives from a media establishment that believes racism is worth discussing only when it comes from one direction.

Jonathan S. Tobin is editor in chief of JNS.org.

Twitter: @JonathanS_Tobin

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Opinion

NY’s mad criminal ‘reforms’ are now claiming the lives of babies

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NY’s mad criminal ‘reforms’ are now claiming the lives of babies

Let’s start with a truth: Neither the police nor our other criminal-justices institutions are perfect. Their imperfections are worth the attention of those in a position to address them. But that effort must be undertaken without losing sight of another truth: Imperfect though they may be, these institutions are also essential to protecting communities from crime, particularly violent crime.

In recent years, New York leaders have turned their focus almost entirely to reforming the system’s imperfections, and they have lost sight of their public-safety mission. This has constrained the ability of the system to protect the public safety, which has dramatically declined the past year, judging by rising shootings and homicides across the state.

The price is high. Heartrending recent stories involving young children here remind us that, too often, it is the most vulnerable among us who suffer the burden of increased violence.

Take Dior Harris, an 11-month-old baby who had her life snatched from her this week in a drive-by shooting in Syracuse, where homicides are up again so far this year, after a 55 percent spike in 2020. The shooting also wounded two other girls, ages 3 and 8. The police have made an arrest in the case: Chavez R. Ocasio, 23. In addition to murder, he’s been charged with a parole violation, according to The Post.

That he was charged with a parole violation tells us something important: This was someone the system chose to release. Those who make a habit of keeping up with some of the horrific stories of criminal violence in New York and elsewhere know the pattern and its lesson: It’s repeat offenders — often out on bail, probation or parole — who are frequently behind the scourge of violence.

Or consider the story of 10-year-old Ayden Wolfe, who police allege was beaten to death in Gotham by his mother’s boyfriend, Ryan Cato, who was arrested and charged in the child’s murder. Cato, it turned out, had at least one open criminal case (and multiple priors) for a December arrest involving allegations of domestic violence.

Police haven’t yet been able to make an arrest in the shooting of a 12-year-old boy in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, last week. When interviewed by The Post, the boy’s grandmother said of the gun violence in the neighborhood, “It happens all the time.” She added, “Now in this city, it’s kill or be killed.”

Bed-Stuy is where 1-year-old Davell Gardner Jr. was shot and killed last summer while in his stroller at a neighborhood park. Police haven’t been able to make an arrest in that case, either. But a recent gun-trafficking indictment of four men reveals that repeat offenders may have played a role in the neighborhood’s summer violence.

Among those indicted was a New York City MTA worker, 49-year-old Vernal Douglas, who was allegedly heard on wiretaps discussing Gardner’s murder. He seemed to be lamenting the heat the case had brought to his alleged gun-trafficking business. One of Douglas’ codefendants is another 49-year-old, named Montoun Hart, who, according to news reports, narrowly dodged a 1997 murder charge after the judge tossed a confession he had allegedly given while under the influence.

Citing an NYPD spokesperson, Oxygen.com reported that in the years since that case, Hart has racked up a number of arrests involving drugs and firearms.

It’s not just New York, either. In Chicago, Kayden Swann, a 1-year-old boy, was shot in the head on April 6 in what police say was a road-rage incident. Swann was riding in the backseat of a car driven by an acquaintance of his grandmother, Jushawn Brown, who was arrested later that day on felony gun charges but released on bond.

Just outside Houston, in Passadena, Texas, Raymeon Means stands accused of shooting a 6-year-old girl. According to local reports, Means had at least two prior convictions involving children.

While the harms associated with the crime spike many American cities are still experiencing extend to victims of all ages, children are among the least capable of defending themselves and, therefore, among the most vulnerable. Unfortunately, none of these stories seems to have caused policymakers to second-guess their commitment to “reform” for its own sake, leaving us with a troubling question: If the murders and shootings of infants, toddlers, and preteens can’t shame lawmakers into rededicating themselves to safety, what will?

Rafael A. Mangual is a senior fellow and deputy director of legal policy at the Manhattan Institute.

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Opinion

NY Times wants to defund the police — except the one in its lobby

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NY Times wants to defund the police — except the one in its lobby

Last year, The New York Times ran an opinion piece titled “Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish The Police,” as well an editorial claiming “. . . too often in recent months, instead of a balm, the Police Department has become another source of trauma.”

These were an ugly par for the course regarding the Gray Lady’s regular mistreatment of New York’s Finest.

So why is a member of the NYPD patrolling the lobby of the Times’ office building? Isn’t the editorial board worried about this cop inflicting trauma on its workforce?

Scratch an advocate who favors defunding the police and you usually find someone with private armed security. In this case, a company such as The Times writes a check to the NYPD, which pays the officer, minus an administrative fee, to provide protection in full police regalia.

As accustomed as we are these days to rank hypocrisy, this example is particularly dangerous. The New York Times has regularly thrown gasoline on the fire of “defund the police,” suggesting the NYPD is a force for bad. Yet faced with worry that someone might slip through their lobby and into the newsroom, who do they turn to?

At least the Times has finally caught up with the opinion of black and Hispanic communities as far as policing goes. Polling has shown, for example, that huge majorities of black Americans absolutely do not want diminished police presence.

And now we know, no matter what fills the pages of their paper, that the Times doesn’t want that either.

As far as the billowing broadsheet is concerned, we should consider turning our neighborhoods into a cop-free social experiment, while its employees enjoy protection their own building. Stop lecturing us.

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Opinion

Harris’ hopeless ‘root cause’ prescription for the border

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Harris’ hopeless ‘root cause’ prescription for the border

It’s worse than we thought: Vice President Kamala Harris just identified the “root cause” of the surge in illegal migrants at the southern border: climate change.

There’s “the need for economic development” and “a need for resilience around extreme climate” because “severe climate experiences” have been “dampening” agriculture in the Northern Triangle nations where most of the border-crossers come from, she said.

Not a mention of the corrupt governments that prevent economic progress — and are sure to pocket the bulk of any foreign aid meant to develop those economies or make their farms more “resilient.”

Nor did she touch on the gangs that terrorize the common people there, giving them more urgent reason to flee.

Seems like the Biden administration’s strategy isn’t to back more competent leadership and tie aid to real-world results. It will be to pour even more cash into the Green New Deal and throw another billion at bad governments. 

This isn’t an answer, it’s a recipe for burning money.

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