Black men gunned down in Louisiana and Minnesota. Men in blue gunned down in Texas. What did they all have in common? None deserved to die.
The ease in which violence can generate violence and hatred can generate hatred was demonstrated with bloody precision Thursday night when five police officers were shot to death by a sniper at a demonstration in Dallas. The crowd was gathered in protest of the shooting deaths of two African-American men on Tuesday and Wednesday by police officers. The police officers in Dallas were there to assure safety for the demonstrators.
The sniper, who was eventually killed in a standoff following the attacks, had said that he was upset about the recent shootings and wanted to "kill white people, especially white officers," according to Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown. Killing in the name of killing almost invariably leads to more killing, but that is nonetheless the pattern that repeats itself over and over again around the globe.
The latest pattern began Tuesday in Baton Rouge with the shooting of a 37-year-old Alton Sterling during an altercation outside of a convenience store. The incident was of course recorded on video and Mr. Sterling did not appear to be in a position to harm the police officers. A day later, in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, Philando Castile was shot to death at a traffic stop. Mr. Castile's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, streamed his dying moments live. She said he was reaching for his wallet to provide identification.
The shootings horrified Americans, but for African-Americans they have a special resonance following incidents in Cleveland, Baltimore, Ferguson, Missouri, Charleston, South Carolina and elsewhere they have a very specific resonance. Out of this violence targeted at African-Americans arose the "Black Lives Matter" movement in protest.
Then came Dallas, in which it appears that several shooters decided that the proper response to the attacks on African-Americans by police officers was to attack police officers. The murdered police officers in Dallas were victims as surely as were Mr. Sterling and Mr. Castile, their deaths as pointless, the heartache of friends and families left behind as real.
The shootings in Dallas offered a reminder of why police officers and police associations are so often represented in Washington, D.C., at rallies for tougher gun laws. They put their lives on the line daily in a nation that is riddled with firearms as is no other civilized nation on earth. It won't matter if the guns used to kill the officers are found to have been obtained legally or illegally. The shooters shouldn't have had them.
That gun-plagued nation horrified by the deaths of so many blacks, some at the hands of police officers, now reels from the deaths of police officers at the hands of misguided avengers. "All I know is that this must stop, this divisiveness between our police and our citizens," said a grieving Chief Brown. That, and so much hatred, has to stop.