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The Times is trying to gaslight you about the summer’s riots

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We should have expected this: Nine months after the death of George Floyd triggered a massive wave of riots and looting, The New York Times has issued a lengthy report about what happened — and blamed it all on the police.

In a recent front-page story headlined, “In City After City, Police Mishandled Black Lives Matter Protests,” the paper predictably lays the entire blame on cops, rather than on radicals who wrecked commercial districts and caused at least 25 deaths and thousands of injuries.

In the heat of the crisis, mainstream outlets called the riots “protests.” It was an eye-wateringly brazen attempt at gaslighting, belied, in some cases, by reporters claiming the “protesters” were “mostly peaceful,” even as the cityscapes behind them were ablaze.

The same outlets, of course, had no trouble using the “r” word about the events of Jan. 6 on Capitol Hill. Indeed, they soon reframed the Trumpian hooligans’ riot in Washington as an “insurrection,” demanding a post-9/11-style response from the government.

We must never forget “1/6,” the Times insists, even as it tries to memory-hole the summer’s anarchic turmoil.

The recent Times story fit neatly into a narrative about police brutality, in which predatory, violent cops are spreading havoc rather than keeping the peace. The report portrays police across the nation as “poorly trained, heavily militarized and unprepared” for mass unrest.

Read More:  Letters to the Editor — Feb. 3, 2021

It’s true that cops need more funding for recruitment and training. They also need better riot equipment, as well as more intelligence about radicals planning mayhem (the role of “protesters” who arrived in armor and prepared for guerrilla warfare was conspicuous by its absence from the Times report).

But whose fault is that? Politicians task police with stopping crime and a host of other jobs, lately including enforcing arbitrary lockdown rules. So it isn’t hard to see why they weren’t prepared for a Black Lives intifada on US streets.

Growing — and successful — calls to “defund” or “reimagine” policing have made things worse, leading to more cutbacks. Blue-state pols’ willingness to betray the police has led to still more resignations. Officers already have a dangerous job; now it’s extra-thankless, too.

Beyond the resources question, the Times narrative blaming the police for the summer riots is pure balderdash.

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For starters, the summer uprising itself was unjustifiable: There is no statistical evidence of an epidemic of police violence; cops aren’t in the business of hunting down and killing unarmed African-Americans. Some cops screw up and overreact in difficult situations, with sometimes tragic consequences. But too often, journalists — the same ones now blaming cops for riots — misreport these incidents, creating martyrdom narratives that can’t withstand factual scrutiny.

The notion that cops brutalized the BLM protesters on a mass scale is equally false. In fact, in many cases, cops were ordered to stand down and let the rioters run wild, rather than risk the kind of mass casualties that might have resulted had they attempted to stop the burning and looting. New Yorkers witnessed this dynamic firsthand, though the Times would insist that they not believe their lying eyes.

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In some instances, police even abandoned police stations and other government facilities rather than defend them. Citizens who lost their businesses or jobs or were injured no doubt regretted the abdication.

Almost everywhere, it was the protesters who initiated violence. Cops showed heroic patience, as they were physically assaulted and subjected to vile, often-racist insults. Who can forget the pair of radicals, including one high-end lawyer, who hurled a Molotov cocktail at an NYPD vehicle, gravely endangering officers?

Cops aren’t perfect, but lawlessness is infinitely worse. The politicians and chattering classes abandoned the men and women who keep evil and chaos at bay. Liberals are using them as scapegoats to radically reorganize our society, so it conforms with the nostrums of critical race theory. It is that toxic ideology that is to blame for a violent summer.

The Times would like us to forget, of course. But again, we New Yorkers saw the savagery of the radicals. We witnessed what they did to our neighborhood stores. We watched the footage of an officer’s body tumbling in the air after being run over in The Bronx. Our city paid the price for this mad fanaticism. We won’t forget.

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

Twitter: @JonathanS_Tobin

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