Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on Police Unions and the "Anti-Cop" Smear. Works for School Reform and Teachers Unions, Too


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as Roger Murdock

In his latest column, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the former six-time NBA champ turned political pundit, takes on the idea that police reform protesters are "anti-cop" and responsible for the murder of two police officers in New York City this weekend.

Jabbar identifies the purpose of trying to connect the murders to the protesters. Via Time:

Those who are trying to connect the murders of the officers with the thousands of articulate and peaceful protestors across America are being deliberately misleading in a cynical and selfish effort to turn public sentiment against the protestors. This is the same strategy used when trying to lump in the violence and looting with the legitimate protestors, who have disavowed that behavior. They hope to misdirect public attention and emotion in order to stop the protests and the progressive changes that have already resulted. Shaming and blaming is a lot easier than addressing legitimate claims.

Although this tactic may be a new feeling for the protesters being targeted, it's not a  new tactic itself. Conservatives may be much more aware of it giving its deployment over the least three to six years to tie the right-wing to every lone white nut who commits a sufficiently prominent crime. Sarah Palin was blamed for Jared Loughner, Glenn Beck was blamed for the nut who tried to shoot up the Tide Foundation, and so forth. It's such a systematic tactic it's hard to believe it's been anything other than intentional.

Here's Media Matters tying two nuts who adopted "Tea Party" insignia and slogans before killing two cops in Las Vegas to other isolated incidents in an effort to paint the broader conservative movement with the extremist brush. But just as those nuts had little to do with the broader movement they tried to claim, so did Ismaayil Brinsley, the New York cop killer, who posted about getting vengeance for Michael Brown and Eric Garner, two people who were killed by police and have become together rallying points for many progressives in the police reform movement.

Abdul-Jabbar continues:

This shrill cry of "policism" (a form of reverse racism) by [Former New York Gov. George] Pataki and the police unions is a hollow and false whine born of financial self-interest (unions) or party politics (Republican Pataki besmirching Democrat de Blasio) rather than social justice. These tragic murders now become a bargaining chip in whatever contract negotiations or political aspirations they have…

Police are not under attack, institutionalized racism is. Trying to remove sexually abusive priests is not an attack on Catholicism, nor is removing ineffective teachers an attack on education. Bad apples, bad training, and bad officials who blindly protect them, are the enemy. And any institution worth saving should want to eliminate them, too.

Abdul-Jabbar is right, and again, it's not new. Advocates of school reform are regularly called "anti-schools" by opponents. "Bad apples, bad training, and bad officials who blindly protect them" exist in the public schools and every government enterprise. And, as with police, in every enterprise the financial self-interest of unions and their members, and the party politics unions play to build their influence, act to thwart legitimate efforts at reforming and improving the product, be it policing or education. Even the charge of institutional racism works in education. Public school systems are more prone to be treated as jobs programs as opposed to centers of education in poor and marginalized communities. Sacrificing the education of minority children for the financial and political interests of adults, black, white, or otherwise, seems pretty racist, even institutionally so.

Since the issue of police reform catapulted onto the national stage this summer, I've been wondering when the role of police unions, which clearly protect bad actors, will be explored by that part of the establishment that's adopted the police reform agenda as their own. I've suspected the mainstream left isn't interested in engaging this problem, no matter the potential for improving respect for civil liberties such an engagement creates, precisely because the same ideas apply elsewhere. Police unions negotiate rules that protect bad cops who are more likely to use excessive force just as teachers unions negotiate rules that protect bad teachers who are more likely to fail to educate the children put under their care. In the first case, the damage is physical—injury or even loss of life. In the latter the damage is more subtle, in the form of lost income earning potential and maladjustment to school for the miseducated students

School reform, like police reform, is a "social justice" issue. Police unions, like teachers unions, exist to prevent reforms because their role is to protect their members, good and bad, not the quality of the system that employs them. Police unions have not tried to infiltrate the police reform movement to keep it away from the kinds of reforms that would threaten bad cops. Teachers unions have. But in both cases the idea that a union meant to protect the employees of a system would have any incentive to support reforms that would improve the system by improving the quality of employees is ridiculous on its face.

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  1. I’ve suspected the mainstream left isn’t interested in engaging this problem, no matter the potential for improving respect for civil liberties such an engagement creates, precisely because the same ideas apply elsewhere.

    That would be honest. And if there’s one thing the left isn’t interested in, it’s honesty.

    1. I’d qualify that by saying neither side is interested in honesty, or truth, when it works against their own interests or requires them to admit to their own mistakes, failure, and/or negligence.

      1. Not nearly to the same extent.

        The left cares only for stated intentions. The truth, like the results of their policies for example, is abhorrent to them because it contradicts their intentions.

        I think the right will at least entertain the truth from time to time. The left despises it.

        1. You may be right – certainly the left despises honesty and truth as they frequently gets in the way of their progressive mindset and their feelings.

          I was only pointing out that when it comes to politicians, truth and honesty aren’t values to be held above others but instead are tools to be used to get/stay in/acquire more power.

          1. With politicians, yes. I was speaking more of the people who follow them.

    2. This is in no way isolated (or even biased) to the left, as this article makes clear. Most people (right, left or center) have no binding principles and fail miserably to maintain consistent stances on pretty much every issue.

      Generally, libertarians are pretty good at identifying this, but the conservative leaning cognitive dissonance on sites like this poisons the discussion.

  2. Abdul-Jabbar’s comments regarding this are quite eloquent, and particularly unexpected from a sports celebrity.

    1. And a ninny at that.

      1. Wait, that’s not racist is it? Different times, so I’m not sure.

    2. Roger, Roger.

    3. Especially one that doesn’t get back on defense.

      1. And who sometimes doesn’t try all that hard. 🙂

  3. I thinl if we call.the problem “institutionalized racism” and not a problem of an overabundance of small laws and a plice force that seems ever more quick to resort to deadly force in a confrontation with a citizen. The latter are solvable by levelheaded policy changes. The former is jist stirtinh the emotional pot to little good purpose.

    1. The death by a thousand small laws isn’t exclusive of institutional racism. The idea that a poor person can’t buy or sell a cigarette without it being taxed and in a pack is more than a little racist/classist/whatever

      1. I’ll never buy into the argument that just because laws have a disparate impact on the lower classes, and therefore by economic circumstance black people, therefore the laws are “racist”. It’s at best a class issue, and at worst it’s just institutionalized dickery towards anybody who doesn’t “look right”, black, white or brown.

        1. The larger point is that the left is not talking about lessening the number of laws that impact everyone. Instead it’s all about now mean cops are to blacks. As if there’s some kind way to enforce laws and arrest people.

          I’ve shut up a number of progtards by observing that they are fine with Garner getting arrested dozens of times for selling a cigarette for a buck; and only got upset when the police encounter led to his death. The other encounters were within the prog enforcement “sweet-spot” but this one was slightly over the line, which is the problem that they see. Apparently they’d have be fine with him getting arrested innumerable times in the future.

      2. I don’t think the law applies ecclusively to poor people. Nor was it sold with that kind of motivation. It was sold as a a way to morally improve the population and a revenue stream and needs to be attacked on those grounds.

        1. To morally improve the population: https://reason.com/archives/201…..r-us-the-p

        2. You know who else wanted to morally improve the population?

          1. Billy Graham?

  4. Everything he says makes sense, but I could wish he hadn’t used the term “Social Justice”, since 90% of the time when it is invoked it proves on examination to mean “Social claptrap”.

    It is the cry of the meddlers, the ones who pass law after law, attempting to make society perfect, with the inevitable consequence of oppressing the poor and giving the police far too much power to harass.

    1. Call me an optimist but I think it’s possible for this to become a more mainstream view. Not every “social justice” advocate is a worshipper of the state. Just the loudest ones. Libertarianism is all about social justice b/c government is the biggest purveyor of social injustice in the world. That kind of change in perspective won’t happen overnight but I think it’s worth trying to push.

      1. Then why not just say, “justice”? No one has been able to yet explain to me what benefit the modifier “social” brings to the table. It’s meaningless.

        1. The modifier “social” turns the definition of “justice” on its head. It completely negates it. Social justice is about fairness, not justice. And when fairness becomes institutionalized, it becomes injustice. So social justice is institutionalized injustice. It’s just another ploy by the left to take a word (like liberal which once meant someone who loves liberty) and erase its true meaning. Once the word justice becomes a synonym for fairness through force, the concept of justice will disappear.

          1. It’s an alienans adjective.

        2. For example lets say you have three cars and I have only one. That’s not fair. Social justice demands that we both have two. If I go and steal one of your cars, that is an injustice and you can go to the government to get justice. If I have the government steal your car for me in the name of social justice, then you have no way to get justice. The goal of social justice is to eliminate actual justice, because justice sometimes isn’t fair.

          1. I like to advocate “social justice” because it gets the attention of those who think they are for it. I then define it as “getting what one deserves from other people; that is, respect for individual rights as set forth in the Declaration of Independence.” One can then discuss the evil of coerced re-distribution and the other “rights denying” aspects of what SJW types believe.

        3. It seems to usually mean redistribution of wealth. Or is that “economic justice”?

      2. As Sowell writrs there is justice and injustice. Social justice is a bastardizaton of the basic concept into group rights and group guilt. It is not a concept that respects individualism.

    2. Yeah, and add to that, if he wouldn’t have also used the words ‘racism’ and ‘progressive’ several times, what he said might have actually had some value. As it is, it’s just the random babbling of another useful idiot.

  5. Well, the problem for the establishment here is that they’ve too often used the shortening public attention span to their benefit to make stories they don’t like disappear as “old news”.

    So now the shine is off this story for them even while they’re still warming up the band for all their touching memorial service pieces. They’re barely a quarter of the way through their propaganda and the story is already running out of gas.

    You live by the news cycle, you die by the news cycle.

  6. Krayewski is confusing me, if police reform is a “social justice” issue? “Social justice” means unrefined bullshit, does it not?

    1. If social justice wasn’t already established as bullshit term which really means socialist injustice, then I would think that police reform would fall under social justice. But that’s not what it means now.

  7. Abdul-Jabbar is right

    Actually, he’s quite wrong. He’s doing exactly what the statist authorities want him to do, blame this on racism and get the focus off the real issue.

    Police are not under attack, institutionalized racism is

    Yeah, right, pea brain, this is all about race, cops NEVER murder white people.

    Also, what is all the drivel about this being a ‘progressive’ movement? Progressives do not give a shit about police brutality. In fact, they want more of it, they just want it directed against people who don’t agree with them politically.

    This article is weak and the assessment of what Jabbar is saying is way off.

    1. Well, he’s still more sensible than most.

      And a lot of people seems to think of leftist, liberal and progressive as synonyms these days, for some strange reason. I just can’t fathom why anyone would want to identify as Progressive, since the originals were pretty much American Fascists.

  8. You know what else links protest movements to acts of violence?

    Large mobs chaning What do we want: DEAD COPS; When do we want the: NOW

    1. And as explained in the article, it would be just as wrong to tie those people to the larger movement as it would to tie Jared Loughner to Sarah Palin. Reading comprehension, how does it work?

      1. Yes it’s unfair to tie the several thousand people in NYC that were chanting that, and the millions of people around the country that were nodding their heads in approval to the theoretical peaceful protesters that opposed them.

        BTW the analogy to Sarah Palin and Jared Loughner is idiotic. Palin never lead a mob in chants of killing congresscritters.

        1. Yeah, this. The comparison to Palin is bizarre. Did anyone not in the fever swamps of the Left think crosshairs = I want these people murdered?

          Whereas, you know, “kill cops” means “kill cops.” Words have meanings.

          1. Were people saying “kill cops” or “we want dead cops”? Words have meanings, you know. There is a big difference between those two.

          2. Mobs chanting “What do we want: DEAD COPS” would be in the minority. The VAST majority of protestors are peaceful and protesting what they see as an unaccountable police force. Conservatives are trying to equate ALL protestors to those calling for violence…which has been a tactic used by the left against firearms after just about every major shooting.

        2. Millions? I guess there’s no arguing with “facts” you get ex rectum. A winner is you.

    2. What do we want: DEAD COPS; When do we want the: NOW

      There are definitely some cops in the United States that deserve violence. Out of any group of people that large, there have to be at least some who have committed crimes for which they haven’t been punished.

      Just maybe not these two individual cops.

      It’s certainly possible for someone to want some dead cops and not want these dead cops.

      1. IME mobs are not capable of that level of nuance.


    3. You know what? Fuck the cops and their hurt little feelings. If people want to chant that they want dead cops, they can have at it. A lot of cops do deserve to die. That doesn’t mean that killing random police is OK. But calling for the deaths of bad cops is no worse than calling for the death of a serial killer or terrorist or something like that.
      When the response of the cops is to double down on their anti-everyone-else bullshit, I lose all sympathy. When cops start to do some serious work on reforming their own shit, then maybe I’ll care.

  9. Those who are trying to connect the murders of the officers with the thousands of articulate and peaceful protestors across America are being deliberately misleading in a cynical and selfish effort to turn public sentiment against the protestors.

    Only no one’s doing this. People ARE connecting the murders to the rhetoric that HAS demostrably come from some protesters that ARE calling for cop killing. This is not supposition, this is fact.


    Protesters are not a monolith. Cops are not a monolith.

    1. Well, no…most people are not being that precise.

  10. I agree that some policemen are bad actors, but the number of blacks killed by police is much lower that the number of blacks killed by other blacks. I also believe that the ugliness of some of the protests, including looting and violence, and chants of “what do we want – dead cops” do contribute directly to a climate of hatred.

    1. Good. The police deserve a lot more hatred. Most of them don’t deserve to die. And there has not been a rash of people killing cops, just one isolated incident. So I fail to see the problem.

  11. Police unions have not tried to infiltrate the police reform movement

    You can’t be serious.

    Just last week a cop union thug whined to a newspaper demanding they retract an editorial. And then we find the guy has done this multiple times.

    1. Also, the two cops who were “outed” by the protesters, and attacked.
      That’s where we got that lovely image of the cop wildly waving his gun at the crowd.

  12. The problem is not one of “institutionalized racism” (whatever that means), or of racist cops (there are probably a lot of them). The problem is that police officers, many of whom are weak men, suddenly given power for which they are not mentally or morally fit to possess, will exert that power to prey on people they perceive as weaker than them.

    So why do we see the cops picking on black people so much? First, let me point out that for the Eric Garners, Michael Browns, Remarley Grahams, and Jonthan Farrells, there are the Kelly Thomases, Angel Mendezes, James Boyds, and Samantha Ramseys as well. The reason that the police tend to prey on black people more often is that they (rightly) perceive black people in America as weak (by weak, I mean lacking in the power to legally or politically retaliate against them). The police know that when they take liberties with the young black man, there will likely be few to no repercussions, much the same as if they beat a homeless man to death while he cries for his father (Thomas), kick in an indigent’s shack and open fire on the man and his pregnant wife (Mendez), toss a grenade and open fire for camping without a permit and arguing with the police (Boyd), or attempting to flee a party in which minors consuming alcohol (Ramsey).

    The police in America prey on the weak. Wolves with badges and the only apparent defense is to either defang the wolves or for the sheep to arm themselves.

    1. Whatever. Does any of that sell more papers than “institutionalized racism”?

    2. Do you really, “see” cops picking on black people much? I mean, you are there, watching, unbiased, able to make a, “reasoned” judgement?

  13. Skimming through the comments, I can only conclude that this is not the 7 blind men touching the elephant, but 7 blind men who cannot even find the elephant.

  14. “Police are not under attack, institutionalized racism is. Trying to remove sexually abusive priests is not an attack on Catholicism, nor is removing ineffective teachers an attack on education. Bad apples, bad training, and bad officials who blindly protect them, are the enemy. And any institution worth saving should want to eliminate them, too.”

    Well stated, but I’d argue that NO government agency is worth saving.

  15. I think that most parents don’t care about all these reforms and unions they just want their kids to feel comfortable at school and get quality knowledge. We, certainly, want teachers to have comfortable conditions and be satisfied with their job, because, it definitely, influence on their desire to be more efficient. As we can notice the authority of teachers decreases and students prefer applying to British Essay Writer in order to cope with their papers, instead of asking advice of their educator. Anyway, there are still some teachers, who work hard, despite all problems and those, who hate their work and children.

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