Race-Baiting Scott Walker Blames President Obama For Murders Of Police Officers

One of the persistent themes of the Republican Party since President Obama has been in the White House is that he has inflamed racial tensions and divided the country along racial lines. Thanks to the recent shootings of white police officers by black suspects, Republicans have been out in force, claiming that those shootings have been inspired by the president’s rhetoric about race. The latest Republican to point his finger at the president is Wisconsin governor, and presidential candidate, Scott Walker.

In an editorial at the appropriately named Hot Air, Walker, apparently channeling George W. Bush, says “we need a uniter-in-chief, not a divider-in-chief.” In his commentary, Walker rehashes every accusation about President Obama’s record on race.

He starts his essay by saying, “Over the last week, we’ve seen a disturbing trend of police officers being murdered on the job.” Maybe if Walker had finished college, he would know that a week is not enough time to establish a “trend.” In fact, if you look at the officers who have been killed in the line of duty in recent months, you will find that the murders of Deputy Goforth in Texas, and Lt. Gliniewicz in Illinois are the exception, not the rule.

Most officers who have been killed by gunfire in recent times were killed while responding to calls. Some were killed by white suspects, and some of the officers who were shot were black. But Walker doesn’t want to talk about those murders. It’s easier to focus on the small group of white police officers who were killed by black suspects, in order to point the finger of blame at the president. (Note: The suspects in Lt. Gliniewicz’s murder were two white men and one black man, Walker chose to focus solely on the one that fit his narrative.)

Walker says that there has been a “rise in anti-police rhetoric” over the past few years. Somehow that’s the president’s fault, even though he doesn’t point to a single instance where the president inspired or was involved in that rhetoric.

Contrary to what Walker and other Republicans would have you think, the president has strongly condemned attacks on police. In a statement following the murder of Deputy Goforth, President Obama said,

“[Police officers] put their lives on the line for our safety. Targeting police officers is completely unacceptable — an affront to civilized society.”

Walker seems to think that crowds of protesters calling police “pigs” and other inflammatory names is a recent phenomenon. Since he was born in 1967, he may have missed that those were terms that were frequently hurled at police in the 60’s and 70’s. It’s kind of hard to blame that on the president, who was in grade school at that time.

He also seems to have missed that there are fewer police officers being murdered now than just a few years ago. The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund keeps a record of every law enforcement officer who has been killed in the U.S., going all the way back to 1791. The 107 officers killed in 2013 is the lowest number since 1949. Over the first half of 2015, fewer officers were killed than during the first half of 2014. And it’s not execution-style shootings that have claimed the lives of most of the police who have been shot. The data says that an officer is most likely to be killed when responding to a domestic violence call.

On average, almost 172 police officers were killed per year while George W. Bush was president. So far, not counting the current year, that average is down to just shy of 135 per year during the presidency of Barack Obama. Of course, those numbers are for deaths while on duty, from all causes. But the number of officers who have been shot in the line of duty is also down.

So who is bringing race into this conversation? Is it President Obama, who is on record calling the killing of police officers “an affront to civilized society?” Or is it people like Scott Walker, who ignore all evidence to the contrary, and claim that the murder of police officers is inspired by the president’s supposed desire to divide the nation over race? The answer to that seems pretty clear.

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