Oh by the way, there's absolutely no data to back up the idea that racist cops are brutalizing black men

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Published by: Dan Calabrese on Tuesday October 18th, 2016

Says none other than FBI Director Jim Comey.

Just in case you've forgotten, or never realized, we're having the wrong debate over this whole national anthem nonsense. What we keep debating is whether it's appropriate for athletes, led by crappy 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick, to sit or take a knee during the anthem as a way of protesting racist police brutality against blacks.

What should they do to take their oh-so-brave stand? Should they sit? Take a knee? Lock arms together? How should these heroic truthtellers draw attention to the plight of black men at the hands of bigoted white cops?

Those are the questions we've been debating ever since Kaepernick started this nonsense during the NFL preseason. What we should be asking is why anyone thinks there's an epidemic of racist police brutality toward black men at all. Yes, I know about the news reports you've seen, although I bet you haven't heard how discredited some of them turned out to be.

But aren't liberals the people who claim to be all about data? Aren't they the ones who always tell us anecdotal evidence is worthless because you have to really look at the numbers to find out the incidents you've heard about are any indicator of a larger trend? Well, they say that when they think it advances their cause to say that. In the case of this issue, I've been saying all along that the media are creating a narrative without any real evidence that there's a significant increase in real incidents of white cops shooting blacks inappropriately for racist reasons.

And now, guess who else is saying that. Why if it isn't Hillary Clinton's legal protector, FBI Director James Comey:

FBI Director James B. Comey told a gathering of police chiefs that despite a wave of protests prompted by fatal police shootings of black men and boys, “Americans actually have no idea” about how often police use force because nobody has collected enough data.

Comey praised police officers who he said were serving during “a uniquely difficult time,” but said that the steady stream of videos showing police officers using deadly force — a series of widely seen recordings that have stretched from the death of Eric Garner in New York two years ago to the killing, last month, of Keith Scott in Charlotte — has helped fuel a bleak perception of law enforcement.

“It is a narrative that has formed, in the absence of good information and in the absence of actual data, and it is this: Biased police are killing black men at epidemic rates,” Comey told the International Association of Chiefs of Police on Sunday at the group’s annual conference in San Diego “That is the narrative. It is a narrative driven by video images of real misconduct, possible misconduct, and perceived misconduct.”

However, Comey once again decried the lack of information gathered nationally about police encounters with civilians, saying that in the absence of better data, Americans who see such videos “over and over and over again” take them as “further proof of nationwide police brutality.” And he again linked these videos and the unrest to the increasing homicide numbers in many major American cities.

“In a nation of almost a million law enforcement officers and tens of millions of police encounters each year, a small group of videos serve as proof of an epidemic,” he said, according to a transcript of his remarks released by the FBI.

There's such a thing as a moral panic, which has a cousin called a social panic. This is when people hear stories of things that are going on, and without ever ascertaining the accuracy of what they heard - or quite understanding what they mean - they pass these stories along until people go into a panic because they think the incidents are widespread. If you're old enough, you might remember stories of people putting razor blades in Halloween candy. Everyone heard these stories, and an awful lot of people believed there were really horrible adults who were trying to hurt random children by weaponizing Snickers bars. It wasn't true. It was a social panic. But just about everyone believed it.

In more recent years, there were stories of so-called "rainbow parties," and I'll do you a favor and spare you the details - but suffice it to say people were convinced that teenage girls were engaged in some pretty lewd and quite creative sexual misconduct. Now I'm not suggesting teenage girls in America are pure as the wind-driven snow, but these stories about "rainbow parties" were nothing more than a moral panic caused by stories a few people told and a lot of people believed. There was nothing to them.

People will believe just about anything.

The news media know this very well. So if you want to feed a narrative of racist cops going hog-wild across the nation gunning down innocent black men for no reason whatsoever, what you do is jump all over every amateur video someone brings you - without knowing the context of the incident, without getting all sides of the story. You just run it, baby. And you be sure to put the race of the participants front and center in your story to drop the strongest implication you can that it was a race-driven incident, even if you have no idea.

Create the narrative and before long it feeds itself. Once you've established the idea in people's minds that white racist cops are murdering innocent black men, you don't even have to look around for video. People send it to you unsolicited. Occasionally you might have something that remotely fits the narrative, but more often you end up pushing a story like "hands up, don't shoot" that turns out to be a complete lie.

But it doesn't matter. You get five or six incidents over the course of a couple years, run nonstop coverage of them for weeks on end, and people will really start to believe this is a problem of epidemic proportions. Soon, cops are afraid to do their jobs because the last thing they want after a confrontation with a suspect is for the damn news truck to show up.

So in the midst of all this, the director of the FBI points out that no data exists to back up the claims people are making, and you'd think that would garner some coverage. But it won't. We'll hear all about the so-called bravery of Colin Kaepernick. And now that the NBA season is starting, we'll hear heartwarming stories of what each team is doing to highlight this horrible injustice. An injustice that, as far as any available evidence can demonstrate, does not even exist.

By the way, just to be clear, there's a difference between claiming no cop ever shoots a suspect wrongly. It would be crazy to claim that, and I am certainly not doing so. People do bad things. All kinds of people. But the Kaepernick-led protests are not against individual wrongdoing. Kaepernick is indicting the entire nation for, according to him, accepting and countenencing this on a widespread basis. And there is absolutely no evidence this is happening.

And for the record, I don't think Kaepernick understands that. I don't think he's knowingly slandering the police. I just think he's gullible and easily manipulated by the mass media. They're the ones who put the idea in his head, and now they're treating him like some sort of leader of men when he's really nothing more than an easily led fool who has no idea what he's talking about.

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