After police killing, ‘the power of self-interested reasoning’

Slate’s Leon Neyfakh writes today that the killing of Justine Damond (nee: Ruszczyk) has illustrated “the kind of flawed, ideological thinking that shows through when people need to protect their preexisting beliefs and irrational biases.”

People who have been silent about police shootings in the past have spoken up now. Why? The shooter was black, he suggests.

At a speech in Waconia, a city about 30 miles outside of Minneapolis, former Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann gave a speech in which she expressed outrage over Damond’s death and zeroed in on the ethnicity of the police officer who killed her. She called him an “affirmative-action hire” and invited audience members to consider the possibility that Noor had shot Damond for “cultural” reasons. Later, in an interview with WorldNetDaily, Bachman was quoted as saying, “Noor comes from the mandated cover-up women culture. That’s why I’m wondering if they’ll ask whether his cultural views led him to shoot her. That’s something, if true, I can’t imagine the progressives would allow to get out.” As far as I can tell, this was the first time in recent years that Bachmann had commented on police violence, unless you count the “All Labs Matter” dog meme she tweeted two weeks after Castile’s death.

“Faced with an opportunity to advance an argument about the dangers of diversity, and of Islam in particular, people whose politics typically incline them to defend police officers at all costs are willing to criticize an embattled cop—as long as he’s of Somali heritage and his victim is white,” he writes.

“What real people really believe is that a police officer is more likely to shoot an innocent woman because he’s a Somali American zealot than because of improper training that makes him and many of his colleagues in law enforcement scared of everything that moves.”

Related: Fear as an element of police culture (MPR News)

Fast-track training put officer Mohamed Noor on Minneapolis police force (Star Tribune)

  • Gary F

    I don’t think the shooter had personal religious beliefs behind the shooting. I do think that fast tracking targeted minority groups and sending them out in the field with another inexperienced officer is bad management and asking for trouble.

    I just asked a couple of St Paul cops at the gas station this morning if St Paul sends two inexperienced cops out in the same car. She said she didn’t think they had any internal policy against it and she didn’t know but it could be happening in St Paul too.

    • Tim Nelson’s interview with the former st. Paul cop this morning was illuminating.

      • Gary F

        Cops have to make split decisions in tense situations in order to protect themselves or the public. Sure, we get to arm chair quarterback this after the event happens.

        • lusophone

          If they think their first job is to protect themselves, then they really ought to find another profession that isn’t so dangerous.

          • Gary F

            Tell their spouses that their first job isn’t to protect themselves.

          • asiljoy

            so “Protect and Serve” really means “Protect Officers and Serve the Force”? That explains so much.

          • To protect and sever.

          • AL287

            When you marry a law enforcement officer, you accept the risk they might get killed in the line of duty. It goes with the territory.

            If you’re worried about your husband/wife being killed on the job, you probably need to marry somebody else who is in a less dangerous profession.

          • Jerry

            Being a police officer is not in the top ten of most dangerous jobs in America. My job is significantly more dangerous than being a police officer. Police deaths are just more visible.

          • AL287

            You’re right about that. Police officer doesn’t even rank in the top 10 most dangerous jobs according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics

          • Pre-emptive killings is probably not really an appropriate response . To the extent some police officers think itis, it might be a good time for the spouses to have a long chat with the career choice of their partners.

          • X.A. Smith

            It’s the Bush doctrine gone domestic.

        • I’ve always been taught to identify my target before shooting. I guess the police academy doesn’t teach that any longer.

          • Jerry

            Identify your target and what is behind your target, I hope.

          • Well yes, of course…but that’s only if you’re a bad shot.


      • MarkUp

        “We are not paid, nor is it our job, to be murdered.”

        I guess I feel the same way.

        • jon

          “We are not paid, nor is it our job, to be murderers.”

          I see no reason why both statements can’t be true.

      • theoacme

        I’m frightened by Tim Nelson’s interview…how many police officers have publicly condemned the murders * of Philando Castile and Justine Damond? The former officer certainly sounded like she cheered their deaths.

        * – Just because Bob Kroll, the BCA, juries, handmaiden prosecutors and legislators, and the US Supreme Court, don’t permit Damond’s and Castile’s deaths, and others unjustly killed, to be called “murder”, doesn’t mean that they are not murder.

    • Kassie

      MPD has stated a number of times this week there is NO fast track process. There are two processes any new police officer must take and neither of them is a fast track.

  • BJ

    The amount on conjecture in Bachman’s statement is insane.

    >Noor comes from the mandated cover-up women culture.

    I assume the the congresswoman knows Noor and what culture he grew up in.

    >That’s why I’m wondering if they’ll ask whether his cultural views led him to shoot her.

    The culture he grew up in was american. So probably.

    >That’s something, if true, I can’t imagine the progressives would allow to get out.

    So if it doesn’t turn out the way Bachman wants it is a cover up. Hard to disprove.

    • Gary F

      Until Officer Noor speaks, we won’t know. Your opinion is just the same as hers, its just an opinion.

      • Except that we have a little context and history that reveals what Mrs. Bachmann truly is. In the same speech, she referred to the “hijab wearing mayor.” She was offering red meat to the Islamaphobic crowd that was only too happy to devour it.

        That’s her thing. That’s their thing.

        • Gary F

          Yup, she hasn’t had any attention lately, so why not create some outrage. Trump has been the Emmanuel Goldstein of late, Bachmann misses her days as the focus of outrage. Back to Russia conspiracy folks. As Van Jones called it, “a big nothing burger”.

          • He’s seen Mueller’s investigation? Or are people concluding there’s no there there because they don’t want there to be a there there?

          • Gary F

            He would of found something by now. So what it is now, is a fishing expedition to find something, and it doesn’t have to be a Russia thing, but find something, to nail Trump with. Question for you…. Can Mueller, in your opinion, announce that the investigation is over, we didn’t find anything. Or must he find SOMETHING! Van Jones is a big a Trump hating leftist there is, and he says it a big nothing burger, but its good for media business, and it keeps the center left in a constant stage of out rage. I say keep it up, it will only hurt the left in the next election.

          • Just because he has not announced anything yet does not mean he hasn’t found anything.

            Also, Van Jones said that video is bogus:

          • RBHolb

            “He would of found something by now.” Investigations like this are complex affairs, and it should not surprise anyone that it would take a long time. It’s not just a matter of dusting for fingerprints, or having someone blow into a Breathalyzer.

          • Seems pretty early in the investigation. We’re still in the “oh, did I forget to mention my Russian contacts that I had previously said I didn’t have” stage of things.


          • X.A. Smith

            He’s still staffing up. The investigation is likely to go on into 2018.

          • Gary F

            Maybe they’ll find something non related like they did with Scooter Libby.

          • They could find conspiracy, obstruction of justice and treason and this Congress wouldn’t impeach a Republican. John McCain would hit all the network TV shows and talk about the president being unfit to serve, then go and vote against impeachment.

          • So sad, but so true.

          • X.A. Smith

            My guess is that Manafort was involved in some money laundering, at minimum.

          • jon

            The president himself disagrees with your assessment that 3 months is plenty of time to find something.

            He has been reported to say that the russian hackers are so good that we’ll never find anything (not that he’d know having never had contact with the russians or their hackers…) suggesting that the complexities of the investigation are going to be time consuming.

            He has a election fraud commission that has been running for more than 3 months with no findings… and he hasn’t shut it down admitting that he isn’t going to find anything.

            He is still claiming that there needs to be more investigation on Clinton’s emails after an investigation that lasted over a year already, and has been closed already (twice.)

          • Really. I mean, Watergate took, what, all of two months before
            “the smoking gun” was discovered. /sarcasm off

          • Wayne

            You’ve said this before about Trump being the Emmanuel GoldStein, but this seems like a false analogy to me.

            I assume you’re saying this because you believe that the press is giving him a raw deal, but Trump is the one in charge of the executive branch, not the press.
            He’s the one who can’t keep his message straight, doubles down when called on it, and constantly lines up straw-men (straw-people?) to knock down: Obama, Crooked Hillary, the Secret Service, Susan Rice, Democrats, illegal immigrants.
            What did he think being President was going to be like? Of course he’s going to get constant media attention and scrutiny for what he says or does. See the last 8 years for example (terrorist fist bump, anyone?). Part of the job of the President is to not take the bait.

            He’s seems to be constantly comparing himself or his positions against false projections, just like Bachman is doing in this case. It’s just rhetoric to boost their image as the ones with the “answers” and it hinges on having someone else to blame. And, it seems to always boil down to “Things would be so much better without ‘those people’ around.”

            Would it kill them to be a little introspective once in a while?

          • AL287

            Well said, sir. Well said!

            Now if we could just get Donald Trump to stop taking the bait. That is appearing more and more like a very tall order.

      • BJ

        I believe the only thing you could take as my opinion in what I wrote was that he grew up as an american, in american culture. Ok maybe it’s my opinion that if it doesn’t turn out she is implying a cover up, I don’t think so though her words are seem clear. As far as the culture I don’t believe is an opinion – it’s well documented that he came to america as a YOUNG boy.

        Her conjecture is that because he may have grown up in a religious house (I don’t know that she knows that) and her conjecture is that because some religious women in the region he was born cover themselves that her next implied conjecture is that that means he may not respect women as people.

  • >>“What real people really believe is that a police officer is more likely to shoot an innocent woman because he’s a Somali American zealot than because of improper training that makes him and many of his colleagues in law enforcement scared of everything that moves.”<<

    I'm a real person and I don't believe that for one minute. I'm pretty sure most real people I know would agree with me.

    • Barton

      I’m real and agree.

      That said, I’ve verbally slapped down quite a few people I know making these ridiculous statements in the last week.

    • AL287

      I am ashamed to admit that the thought did cross my mind but only briefly and that was before additional information came out. My thoughts went back to the Somali men who were tried and convicted of attempting to fight for ISIS in Syria.

      Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter what kind of training a police officer has. How s/he reacts in any given situation varies greatly from individual to individual as this sad event illustrates.

      Wearing a hijab is a mark of respect, not a political ploy but we are so divided in this country, we don’t seem to be able to see it as such because we no longer show each other respect.

      • JamieHX

        >> “Wearing a hijab is a mark of respect, not a political ploy but…”<<

        Bad example. Faulty premise. Don't get me started.

    • X.A. Smith

      He didn’t say all real people. I’m sure there are real people who believe it. Like Michelle Bachmann, who is a real person.

      • Jerry

        “Like Michelle Bachmann, who is a real person”*

        *Citation needed

        ; )

  • Jerry

    “What real people really believe is that a police officer is more likely to shoot an innocent woman because he’s a Somali American zealot than because of improper training that makes him and many of his colleagues in law enforcement scared of everything that moves.”

    Does he have any real people to use as evidence for this? Michele Bachmann doesn’t count.

    More to the point, I fail to see the purpose of vilifying new allies in the fight against police violence. It strikes me as a kind of political hipsterism, like looking down on somebody who started getting into your favorite band only after you perceived that they had “sold out”. Yeah, it was cool to be outraged when white police were killing minorities, but now that those races are reversed, it’s kind of lost its luster.

    The bottom line is, police violence is a very real and pervasive issue, and if we as a community can’t get it together and accept that some people who weren’t paying attention before are paying attention now, then we only have ourselves to blame for the lost opportunity.

  • kennedy

    Is it also ‘self interested reasoning’ for Mr. Neyfakh to use the purposefully divisive rhetoric of a politician to paint ‘real people’ as racists? Using politics as a wedge to separate himself from the rest of society may feel good in anger, but is not real. The anger is real. The divisions among us we create on our own, to the benefit of those who profit from a divided people.

  • lindblomeagles

    We all know who Michelle Bachmann is. None of us should be surprised Michelle said something like this. While in Washington, Bachmann condemned the GLBT Community, attacked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s aide, a woman, for her Muslim beliefs, and supported “patriotism tests.” She frequently misrepresented American History and was lauded by her district for continuously divisive rhetoric. The fact any magazine and news’ outlet still interviews and quotes her illustrates the degree to which our common sense has fluttered away. That said, American Race Relations and Police Training have needed improvement for awhile. We shouldn’t be surprised police shootings finally claimed the life of an innocent white person nor should we be surprised some whites ARE NOW interested in holding police accountable when the officer who shot an innocent person is Black, Muslim, Hispanic, or GLBT. This is who we are. This is what we’ve been. And no, America hasn’t changed all that much.