Appearing on NJTV's with Steve Abubato last night, Governor Chris Christie answered one question in particular without the usual partisan cheapshot. It was refreshing to hear the Governor speak without the audacious and vilifying tone that most in the state have grown tired of.
The answer was in response to a question posed (10:35 mark) by Mr. Abubato in regards to comments made by partisans suggesting prominent activists have created an environment that encourages and propagates violence against police officers that results in things like the murder of two Brooklyn police officers by a deranged and suicidal gunman.
One of the things that disturbs me about the entire conversation that we're having right now is it seems like lots of people are trying to score political points here," Christie said when asked about the same issue. "And, what I'm thinking about as we sit three days away from Christmas, are those two families of those two police officers who will not have them at their dinner tables at Christmas time, who won't have them there to open up present under the Christmas tree, who will not have them, not only this Christmas, but every Christmas going forward. And I think before we get into that analysis, it may be time for everybody in this region and around this country to take a deep breath and to think about the loss that's been suffered by these two families.
Despite differences between left and right, the Governor changed pace by using this opportunity to transcend partisan divide and request that we focus on what truly matters: life, family, and respect. While some may consider this site partisan, I think it's better to describe it as political. We applaud messages and policy we feel are right and just-not simply by our political allies. Chris Christie's thoughtfulness is correct here and deserves praise. However, despite the Governor's thoughtful and kind remarks on the issue, I wish the Governor would have went further and offered the eloquence penned by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Time on Monday.
According to Ecclesiastes, "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose." For me, today, that means a time to seek justice and a time to mourn the dead.
And a time to shut the hell up.
The recent brutal murder of two Brooklyn police officers, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, is a national tragedy that should inspire nationwide mourning. Both my grandfather and father were police officers, so I appreciate what a difficult and dangerous profession law enforcement is. We need to value and celebrate the many officers dedicated to protecting the public and nourishing our justice system. It's a job most of us don't have the courage to do.
At the same time, however, we need to understand that their deaths are in no way related to the massive protests against systemic abuses of the justice system as symbolized by the recent deaths-also national tragedies-of Eric Garner, Akai Gurley, and Michael Brown. Ismaaiyl Brinsley, the suicidal killer, wasn't an impassioned activist expressing political frustration, he was a troubled man who had shot his girlfriend earlier that same day. He even Instagrammed warnings of his violent intentions. None of this is the behavior of a sane man or rational activist. The protests are no more to blame for his actions than The Catcher in the Rye was for the murder of John Lennon or the movie Taxi Driver for the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan. Crazy has its own twisted logic and it is in no way related to the rational cause-and-effect world the rest of us attempt to create.
Unjust killing is inexcusable and wrong. It doesn't matter where it comes from. And a hugely important distinction to remember when listening to arguments of others is that a couple bad actors in the police force or in the conservative movement or in the mostly peaceful protests calling for reforms to our Justice system to protect everyone-not just some of us-does not make the vast majority of police officers, or most of the conservative movement, or most protesters evil, wrong, violent, or misguided.
Justice is supposed to be blind. And the Justice system usually works that way. When a person is murdered, the perpetrator is punished by the State. But occasionally, this isn't the case. The protests around this country are standing up to perceived issues of injustice. Bravo to our Governor for not succumbing to the worst of partisan politics when it comes to our Justice system. But I know he can do better. Despite the political consequences of questioning the laissez faire attitude of guns in America, there's a lot we could do to reduce homicide rates without offending 2nd Amendment rights. Making these changes requires standing up to powerful partisans and saying "enough is enough."
Like the Governor, I know I will be thinking about the tragic and senseless losses we hear about each year. However, I am also ready to embrace changes to our system that would objectively reduce gun violence in our nation. Let's hope our political antagonists will be ready to hold a thoughtful conversation on that in 2015.
UPDATE: At 49:08, Christie criticizes NJ Gun laws as too strict. So maybe the praise for the Governor was a bit premature.