Obama’s Assault on Federalism

Ever since being sworn in as President of the United States, Barack Obama has promoted a false narrative that America’s local cops are racists, systematically biased, and excessively violent in policing black communities.

The reality is just the opposite: America is not significantly racist, and there is more justice and opportunity for America’s black citizens than ever before.  There are more black mayors of large cities, more black cops, and more black police chiefs than ever before.  That a black man was elected President of the United States is powerful evidence that this nation is not racist. 

So why have Obama and his lapdog media been promoting this false narrative of increasing bias in policing?  There are two reasons: (1) he needs to fan the fires of racial division between blacks and whites to ensure that blacks continue to vote tribally, more than 90% Democrat, and (2) he wants to federalize all local police forces in the United States so that they all answer directly to him, and later to his Democratic successors in the office of president.  He is laying the groundwork for a power grab by the central government that would catastrophically damage the system of decentralized government designed by America’s founders.

Why is this a topic for Fulcrum7, a website for content of interest to Seventh-day Adventists?  Because Dan Jackson, president of the North American Division, recently threw the weight and influence of the official Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America behind activism that is designed to weaken and ultimately destroy America’s system of government. 


Today’s Police Forces

a.       Most police are local

The founding fathers of the United States distrusted centralized power.  They designed the federal government to be a government of limited, enumerated powers, and hence it does not have a general police power.  The general police power—the power to regulate health, safety and morals—resides with the state governments. Most cops in America are hired by local municipalities—cities, counties, transit authorities, schools, etc.  The states usually have state police and highway patrols, and many states have special state criminal investigation bureaus that assist local police forces when necessary. 

Until the 20th Century, the only federal “cops” were (1) the federal marshals, who enforced the writ of the federal courts, (2) the secret service, which protected the president and the currency, and (3) the customs officers who collected duties on imported products—the federal government’s main source of revenue until 1913, when the 16th Amendment, allowing for direct taxation of incomes, was passed. 

In the 20th Century, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was established, the first real federal police force.  Regrettably, the 21st Century has seen a proliferation of armed federal law enforcers; it seems that every federal bureaucracy has its own SWAT team, including the Department of Education, the Bureau of Land Management, the Dept. of the Interior, the postal inspection service, the National Park Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and even, incredibly, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—expect a SWAT team from the NOAA to ram open your door if you’re too skeptical of global warming.  But even to this day, the overwhelming majority of law enforcement officers, and there are about a million, are still hired by local municipalities.

b.      Blacks have a voice in governing America’s large cities

Who runs America’s large cities?  From the end of Reconstruction until 1967, when Carl Stokes was elected mayor of Cleveland, there were no black mayors of large U.S. cities.  But 40 years later, in 2007, 39 of the 100 largest cities in America had black mayors. In 2002, 57.1% of black mayors served in cities that did not have a black majority population, and there were 49 black mayors of cities with populations of more than 50,000.  

Large cities that have, or have had, black mayors include Hartford, New Haven, New York, Newark, Camden, Atlantic City, Trenton, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC, Richmond, Charlotte, Columbia, Chicago, Buffalo, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Cleveland, Dayton, Columbus, Toledo, Cincinnati, Kansas City, St. Louis, Denver, Atlanta, Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Memphis, Birmingham, Mobile, Shreveport, Monroe, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Francisco, Oakland, Seattle, and Spokane.  It is much easier to name the large cities that have never had a black mayor: Boston, Pittsburgh, Phoenix, Miami, Salt Lake City, Ft. Worth.

The bottom line is that, in today’s America, blacks run the cities that have a majority black population, and very often cities that have even a substantial black minority.  Now, do you think these black mayor and black city council members would want to operate their police forces to oppress their black constituents?  Does it make any sense that, having overcome centuries of prejudice and discrimination, and at long last gained the levers of municipal power, these black mayors and city councils would use the police force to oppress the black members of their communities? 

There has been a concerted effort to hire more black police officers.  The latest statistics, from 2015, give the percentage of sworn peace officers who are black as 12.2%; the black population of the U.S. is 13.2%, so there is still work to be done in recruiting black police officers, but not nearly as much as has already been done.   Dallas Police Chief David Brown, Jr., who is black, took the occasion of the assassination of five of his officers this past July to broadcast a call for minority applications, “We’re hiring,” he said. “Get out of that protest line and put in an application. We'll put you in your neighborhood and help you resolve some of those problems.”


Blacks are not being policed more harshly than others

a.       Traffic stops racially proportionate

The widespread idea that blacks are disproportionately stopped by the police is not supported by recent statistics.  The 2010 census figures showed that America was 63.7% white, 16.3% Hispanic/Latino, 12.2% black, 4.6% Asian, and .7% American Indian.  According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, traffic stops and pedestrian stops by law enforcement largely fall in line with overall demographics.

In 2011, 65.2% of pedestrians stopped in street stops were white, 15.3% were Hispanic/Latino, 12.4% were black, 3.6& were Asian, 3.1% were two or more races, and .6% were American Indian. 

In vehicular traffic stops, 69.3% stopped were white, 12.6% were black, 12.2% were Hispanic/Latino, 4% were Asian, 1.3% were of two or more races, and .6% were American Indian. 

Traffic stops leading to the issuing of a traffic citation were 65.5% white, 14% Hispanic/Latino, 13.2% black and 7.2% are either Native American, Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian, or other Pacific Islander, and persons of two or more races.

b.      There is no evidence of bias in police shootings

Recently, the Washington Post compiled data showing that 50% of the victims of fatal police shootings were white, while 26% were black.  The Post argued that this was evidence of disparate treatment, because whites are 62% of the population and blacks are only 13 percent.  But this argument ignores the fact that because of a much higher crime rate blacks are far more likely to have an adversarial encounter with police.   

The Bureau of Justice Statistics reveal that, in the nation’s 75 most populous counties, blacks commit 62% of robberies, 57% of murders, and 45% of assaults, despite comprising just 15% of the population in these counties.  Blacks commit homicide at eight times the rate of whites and Hispanics combined, and at about 11 to 12 times the rate of whites alone.

The concentration of criminality in minority communities means that officers will often be confronting suspects in those communities. "Officer use of force will occur where the police interact most often with violent criminals, armed suspects, and those resisting arrest,” writes Heather MacDonald, “and that is in black neighborhoods. The black violent crime rate would actually predict that more than 26% of police victims would be black.”

I saw a statistic stating that there were 4.76 white deaths per 100,000 arrests, and 4.92 black deaths per 100,000 arrests, so deaths pursuant to arrest or while in police custody are at a roughly equal rate for blacks and whites. 

Interestingly, death at the hands of law enforcement is a proportionately greater problem for whites than for blacks—three times greater.  Twelve percent (12%) of white and Hispanic homicide deaths were due to police officers, while only four percent (4%) of black homicide deaths were the result of police officers. Other causes of black mortality are (or at least should be) of much greater concern than police shootings.  According to FBI statistics, of 2,491 blacks murdered in 2013, the killer was also black in 2,245 of those cases—ninety percent (90%) of the cases.    

Hiring more black officers will not lead to fewer police shootings.  According to a 2015 Justice Department report about the Philadelphia Police Department—which was confirmed in a study by University of Pennsylvania criminologist Greg Ridgeway—black cops were more than three times as likely to fire their service pistol as their white counterparts.

Police officers have legitimate concerns in their interactions with black suspects.  According to FBI data, forty percent (40%) of cop killers are black.


Obama’s false narrative of bias

America’s progress toward racial equality and justice during the past half century is an astonishing success story, a solid moral achievement with few parallels in human history.  Yet ever since the first black president was elected, he has acted as if it were 1961 and a quasi-legal system of racial oppression was still in place. 

Obama is president of the federal government.  He is not a state governor, not a mayor, not a police chief.  Most criminal matters, including all routine policing, are within the purview of the states, not the federal government.  Quite literally, they are none of Obama’s business.  And yet he has stuck his nose into local police issues in a way no president has done. 

a.       The “Beer Summit”

In July, 2009, Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates returned home from a trip to China and found his door jammed shut.  He and his driver noisily tried to break in, and a neighbor called the police.  Instead of conceding that it was reasonable for the police to respond to a reported break-in, and calmly cooperating and producing identification when asked, Gates copped an attitude with the responding officer, Sgt. James Crowley, yelling and carrying on, and was arrested for disorderly conduct.  The charges were soon dropped. 

Barack Obama inserted himself into this minor local incident, saying that “the Cambridge Police acted stupidly” and “there's a long history in this country of African Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately." He later invited Gates and Crowley (who share a distant Irish ancestor) to the White House for a “beer summit,” but his gratuitous and wrong-headed comments set the pattern for his presidency. 

b.      The Martin-Zimmerman Case

On February 26, 2012, at an upscale housing development in Sanford, Florida, George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain, was following Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African American whom he found suspicious.  He called police, who told him they would respond and he should break off contact.  But Trayvon Martin doubled back, confronted Zimmerman, assaulted him, and was repeatedly pounding his head into the sidewalk.  Fearing for his life, Zimmerman pulled a pistol and fatally shot Martin.  Zimmerman cooperated with local police who interviewed him for four hours, but did not arrest him.  Local prosecutors declined to prosecute.

Once again Obama inserted himself: “I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this,” Mr. Obama said. “All of us have to do some soul searching to figure out how does something like this happen.”  “When I think about this boy, I think about my own kids. . . . You know, if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”

Florida’s Republican Governor appointed a special prosecutor who bypassed the grand jury indictment process, filing an affidavit of probable cause charging Zimmerman with second degree murder.  After a jury trial, Zimmerman was acquitted based upon un-rebutted evidence of self-defense.  Eric Holder’s Justice Department kept a civil rights investigation open for two more years, but the feds found not one shred of evidence that the mixed-race and mostly Hispanic Zimmerman was biased against the black race. 

c.        The Ferguson Case

On August 9, 2014, 18-year-old Michael Brown and friend Dorian Johnson robbed a convenience store in Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis.  Officer Darren Wilson was notified of the robbery and given a description of the suspects.  Wilson encountered Brown and Johnson walking down the middle of the street and stopped in front of them.  Brown reached into Wilson’s patrol car and grabbed for Wilson’s weapon, which discharged in the ensuing struggle.  Brown and Johnson fled, and officer Wilson pursued on foot.  Brown stopped and turned to face the officer and began moving toward him. Wilson fired at Brown several times killing him.  Some bystanders started a false narrative that Brown had his hands up trying to surrender, but a later Justice Department investigation found that these witnesses had no credibility.  A grand jury cleared officer Wilson of any wrong-doing. 

Soon there was rioting, burning and looting on the streets of Ferguson.  Yet again, President Obama sympathized with, an encouraged, an entirely misguided sense of grievance:  “a community in Ferguson that is rightly hurting and looking for answers . . . The potential of a young man and the sorrows of parents, the frustrations of a community . . . In too many communities, too many young men of color are left behind and seen only as objects of fear.”  Even six months later, after his own Justice Department determined that the “hands up, don’t shoot” narrative was a total fabrication, Obama said that the protesters “had some very legitimate grievances.”

d.      The Freddie Gray Case

On April 12, 2015, 25-year-old Freddie Gray, a career criminal with 20 criminal charges on his adult record, was walking near Baltimore’s Gilmor Homes housing project when he spotted the police and ran.  Because he ran, the cops chased him, tackled him, and cuffed him.  They arrested him for possession of an illegal switchblade, although prosecutors later said the small knife was legal.  Gray died five days later from a spinal cord injury that, according to the medical examiner, was sustained after his arrest while he was riding, un-seat-belted, in a police van.  As usual, rioting, burning and looting ensued.  Six Baltimore police officers were charged in connection with Gray’s death, but none were convicted of criminal misconduct.

The police were at fault in Gray’s death, and Baltimore settled with Gray’s family for $6.4 million.  But the incident was not racial in character.  Although the arresting officers were white, the most serious charge—second degree, “depraved heart” murder—was lodged against Officer Caesar R. Goodson, who is black.  Goodson was driving the police van in which Gray was riding, and was accused of intentionally giving Gray the “rough ride” that caused his injuries. (Goodson was acquitted after a bench trial.) Officer William G. Porter and Sgt. Alicia D. White, who allegedly refused to obtain medical help for Gray despite repeatedly being asked, are also black.  Chief Rodney Hill, the head of BPD’s Internal Affairs Division, which polices the police, is black.  The mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, is black.  The prosecuting attorney, Marilyn Mosby, is black.  The judge who found some of the officers, including Goodson, “not guilty,” Judge Barry Williams, is black.  It turns out that the Freddie Gray case is about how blacks police and govern themselves once they have achieved political dominance in a given jurisdiction, as they have in Baltimore.

Despite the Freddie Gray case being like New Zealand’s national rugby team—All Blacks—Obama nevertheless crammed it into his false narrative of racial bias and injustice:

“We have seen too many instances of . . . police officers interacting with individuals, primarily African-American, often poor, in ways that raise troubling questions.  And it comes up, it seems like, once a week now, or once every couple of weeks.  So I think it’s pretty understandable why the leaders of civil rights organizations, but more importantly moms and dads across the country, might start saying this is a crisis.  What I’d say, this has been a slow-rolling crisis; this has been going on for a long time.  This is not new and we shouldn’t pretend that it’s new.  . . . 

Before he entered politics, Obama was a “community organizer.”  Community organizing was invented by Marxist activist Saul Alinsky (1909-72).  In his book, “Rules for Radicals”—in which he credits Lucifer as the first successful community organizer, having seized a whole world to rule—Alinsky wrote that a community organizer should be “an abrasive agent to rub raw the resentments of the people of the community; to fan latent hostilities of many of the people to the point of overt expressions.” Once such hostilities were “whipped up to a fighting pitch,” the organizer steered his group toward confrontation, in the form of picketing, demonstrating, and general hell-raising.  Sound familiar? Does that sound like what “Black Lives Matter” and President Obama have been up to?

Why the False Narrative?

But to what end?  There are two reasons.  First, Obama needs blacks to continue to vote Democrat as a tribal bloc, at greater than 90% levels.  The truth cannot be counted on to ensure tribal voting by blacks.  The truth is that there is no legal or institutional racism in this country.  The truth is that every institution of government, business, education, the professions, the military, sports, entertainment, and the media is devoted to at least equal opportunity, and often to preferential advancement for blacks to make up for the inequities of the past.  The truth is that in many American cities, blacks are largely in charge of policing themselves.  The truth is that by far the greatest problem for blacks is family breakdown (a 73% illegitimacy rate), matriarchy, a lack of appropriate male role models, black-on-black crime, and a black sub-culture (“hip hop”) that actually glorifies these social pathologies and dysfunctions.

But truth won’t work to further Obama’s ends, so a false narrative of bias and oppression must be created and constantly reinforced that asserts that blacks are under siege by a hostile white establishment and brutal, racist white cops.

There is another motive that is just as important—maybe, in the very long run, more important—to an Alinskyite radical like Obama.  As noted above, the overwhelming majority of law enforcement officers in the United States answer to local governments, not to the federal government.  This is a crucial linchpin in the structure of American ordered liberty and self-government.  There can never be a real tyranny in America until the police forces are effectively centralized and run from Washington.  Just such a centralization is a long-term goal of radicals like Obama.  You cannot “fundamentally transform” America, as Obama promised to do, from Washington, D.C., when all the cops are hired out in the provinces, and answer to local mayors, city councils, and local citizens. 

You can hear this motivation in the speech Obama gave in the Whitehouse rose garden regarding the Freddie Gray case, the same speech quoted above:

Now the challenge for us as the federal government, is that we don’t run these police forces.  I can’t federalize every police force in the country and force them to re-train.  But what I can do is to start working with them, collaboratively, so that they can begin this process of change themselves.  And coming out of the task force that we put together we are now working with local communities.  . . . And we’re going to keep on working with those local jurisdictions so that they can begin to make the changes that are necessary. . . . We’re going to be working systematically with every city and jurisdiction around the country to try to help them implement some solution that we know work.

Translation:  “For the time being, I cannot make every police officer in America a direct employee of the federal government, much as I would love to do just that.  What I can do is start the process of effectively federalizing them by controlling their training and indoctrination, and specifying their policies and procedures.  State and local taxes will still pay their salaries, but their actions will effectively be controlled from Washington.” 

The chief financier of Leftist activism in America today is the Hungarian immigrant George Soros.  Soros has funded “Black Lives Matter” to the tune of $650,000.  His “Open Society Foundation” is attempting to foment a national movement to impose federal guidelines for local police forces.  In the above quote, Obama talks of “the taskforce we put together” to address the manufactured crisis in policing.  This task force, which last May released 60 recommendations to localities on how to modify policing practices, was heavily influenced by Soros-financed groups. 

The Cost of Obama’s Assault on Federalism

The problem with cynically working people up into a frenzy for your own political purposes is that some people will take you much too seriously.  If America’s cops are really waging war on black people, shouldn’t black people fight back?  Some blacks think so, and have started to assassinate police officers.  On July 7, Micah Johnson, a supporter of the “New Black Panther Party,” shot 12 Dallas Police officers, killing five; in the ensuing standoff, he told police he was upset about the recent police shootings, “and wanted to kill white people, especially white officers.” On July 17, Gavin Long, a black veteran, shot six Baton Rouge police officers, killing three, after telling his mother “somebody has to do something.”   

After nearly 8 years of America’s first black president, race relations are far worse than when he took office.  In a telephone poll conducted by NBC News in July, 69% characterized race relations as bad, and only 26% characterized them as good.  The responses of blacks and whites to that question were almost identical.   

Policing is also taking a hit.  Over twice as many cops were killed in the first three months of 2016 (which does not include the Dallas and Baton Rouge massacres) as in the same period the year before.  Cops perceive that they are under assault by “Black Lives Matter” and their Leftist sympathizers. This is causing what St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson calls the "Ferguson Effect”: officers are declining to police aggressively, staying in their squad cars most of the time.  “There’s a perception,” said FBI director James Comey, “that police are less likely to do the marginal additional policing that suppresses crime — the getting out of your car at two in the morning and saying to a group of guys, ‘What are you doing here?’ ” 

The result:  murders have spiked by 17 percent in the 50 largest cities in the U.S., with 10 heavily black cities showing murder spikes above 60 percent.  In Chicago, for example, where police have almost completely ceased to stop pedestrians, homicides this year are up 60 percent compared with the same period last year.  Cops seem to be sending a message to the black community:  if you really don’t want to be policed, then we won’t really try to police you.


Why is this an issue for Fulcrum7?

I would not have bothered to write a column about this were it not for the fact that the President of the North American Division, Dan Jackson, has placed the bully pulpit of Adventism at the disposal of Obama’s false narrative. As we previously noted here, Jackson and several other NAD officials attended a July 9 rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. to protest police shootings:

“If you are in the Washington, DC join us on Saturday, July 9, 2016 at 6:30 pm at the Lincoln Memorial. In solidarity, we will march to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial announcing that not another day will go by without our voices being heard regarding the senseless killings of our fathers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters at the hands of law enforcement.  We're requesting that everyone wear RED symbolizing the innocent blood flowing in the streets."

Is anyone in America in favor of senseless killings by the police? Of course not!  When cops kill without excuse, they should be fired and prosecuted.  But every case is different; every case must be investigated separately, and justice done in each case as its facts require. 

This is a question of justice—carefully investigating the facts and rendering the correct judgment in each case.  It is not a question of “social justice,” which (in the context of the United States, where official and quasi-official racial oppression are decades in the past) effectively means applying Leftist bromides to society.  Justice means doing right in individual cases; “social justice,” in the case of the “black lives matter’ movement, means concentrating power in the hands of the central government so that it can be used as a sledgehammer to smash the society that now exists in order to replace it with a theoretical utopia that crackpot Leftists envision. 

I would suggest that the red color already has a symbolism that predates and preempts the meaning the July 9 protesters would like to invest it with. This is not about race, it is about Left vs. Right.  It is about progressive utopians, who hate the system the founders established, versus conservatives, who revere the founders’ wisdom, and fear the potential tyranny incipient in centralized, concentrated state power. 

Dan Jackson, who is Canadian, does not seem to understand how the founders designed our government to prevent concentrated federal power.  He does not seem to understand what he is doing when he lends the moral authority of our Church to a ginned up racial narrative that is designed to undermine the legitimacy of local control of the police.  He needs to understand that many Adventists are strongly opposed to the Soros-funded nonsense that is the "Black Lives Matter" movement. 

There are Biblical and spiritual principles involved.  As I said here, the lesson from Scripture's depiction of the Centurions, the police officers of their day, is that:

The Christian attitude toward police authority is one of submission.  (Rom. 13:1-7).  Those who intentionally pick fights with the police, or who riot and destroy property, are manifesting a spirit entirely contrary to the spirit of Christianity. . . . Some types of supposedly peaceful protest and demonstration also display a spirit of anti-Christ.  For example, one group of anti-police “activists” was recorded chanting, “pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon.”  This is so far beyond the boundary of acceptable conduct that one can either be involved with these people or one can be a Christian, but not both.

If President Obama and other Leftist radicals want to tear down the structure of American government, they should be able to do so without the blessing of the Adventist Church or any of its constituent parts.