After Dallas: We Must Find a Clear Perspective on Race, Policing and Guns

As President Barack Obama eloquently reminded us Tuesday, it is vital that we recall exactly what actually occurred in Dallas Thursday night, before these tragic events slide into the meat grinder of electoral politics where the blades of heedless partisanship will render them into unintelligible rhetorical sausage. Hundreds of people, mostly African American, had peaceably assembled and were exercising their democratic right to march in protest, the city’s police force was guarding their route and ensuring their constitutional right to petition for redress of grievance. A troubled and isolated young man—who was dishonorably discharged from the Army reserve and  intermittently employed—apparently ...

Fifty more are dead from gun violence and nothing remotely constructive will be done

Kenneth Rexroth began his beautiful 1952 elegy to the old Wobblie Eli Jacobson this way: "There are few of us now, soon there will be none. We were comrades together, we believed we would see with our own eyes the new world where man was no longer wolf to man, but men and women were all brothers and lovers together. We will not see it. We will not see it, none of us. It is farther off than we thought."   These days, those bleak opening lines frequently come to mind when I consider the situation of America’s gun control advocates—of whom I have long been one. I have ...

In much of America, it’s more dangerous to be policed than to be a police officer

When he spoke to civic or church groups about the law and policing, the late Johnnie Cochran often would pose this question: “Who do you think is the most powerful person in the criminal justice system?” Inevitably, most people would respond, “the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.” “Wrong,” Johnnie would respond. “The most powerful single person in the entire criminal justice system is the cop on the street, because only he has the power to summarily execute you—and get away with it.” In the months since Ferguson, I’ve thought a great deal about Johnnie’s question and about his views on abusive ...