This is a list of truths so basic it's almost embarrassing that they must be delineated here. But alas we must, because so much of the world has worked itself into a quasi-political tizzy Monday over Sunday night's Super Bowl halftime show featuring Beyoncé.
Art can be political and, as such, not everyone will appreciate or enjoy every piece of art. Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) is an expert in neither art nor policing. Police in the United States kill more people than those in almost any other developed country in the world. Of those killed, a disproportionately large share are people of color. That's especially true for black men. Police officers do dangerous and important work that should be done lawfully, and their deaths in the line of duty should always be taken seriously.
Sometimes none of that trio seems true. But, it's the last of that trio -- respect for lost police lives -- that is typically the most secure.
Last year, an increasingly number of people publicly protested police misconduct, but police interests did not go utterly unrepresented either. And despite wild claims of a so-called "war on cops," the job did not become demonstrably more dangerous for police. In fact, 2015 turned out to be one of the safest years in recent history for law enforcement officers. Finally, while many civilians were killed by police, very, very few law enforcement officers faced any criminal prosecution in connection with those deaths.
Each and everyone of those things are facts. Still, in the content-hungry hours after the Super Bowl, much of the media was preoccupied with what was allegedly wrong, offensive, inappropriate, upsetting and so on and so forth about Beyonce's halftime show, which The Post's Niraj Chokshi writes, featured "a strong theme of black empowerment, featuring Beyoncé flanked by women dressed in what was clearly a nod to the fashion of the Black Panther Party of the 1960s and 1970s. At one point, her crew of backup dancers formed an X, which some interpreted as a reference to civil rights leader Malcolm X."
Many seemed to think that their coverage would be enriched by giving a few minutes to Giuliani to critique and describe the show and/or the Black Lives Matter movement. And those not fortunate enough to feature Giuliani in the flesh chewed over his comments. Here's what he said, from Chokshi:
“This is football, not Hollywood, and I thought it was really outrageous that she used it as a platform to attack police officers who are the people who protect her and protect us, and keep us alive,” he said during an appearance on the Fox News channel. “And what we should be doing in the African American community, and all communities, is build up respect for police officers. And focus on the fact that when something does go wrong, okay. We’ll work on that. But the vast majority of police officers risk their lives to keep us safe.”
Unfortunately for all of us, much of what Giuliani said Monday and has said in the past about related issues is so vastly obtuse and hyperbolic that it should not be taken seriously. They extend into the realm of the intentionally misleading. They seek to misdirect people from legitimate questions about the use of deadly force in a democracy and to what standard those given the legal authority to use deadly force should be held.
Giuliani's Monday comments featured his usual prescription for the United States (show greater respect for police), his sense that any and all questions about police conduct are somehow wrong, and Giuliani's read on the halftime show and who it should be crafted to please. In Giuliani's world, the halftime show is for "middle America," a place he seems to presume has no interest in or concern about the issues raised by the Black Lives Matter moment and only hinted at in Beyoncé's show.
That, we must point out, is a pretty odd and bold assumption given that, in Cleveland, people are still trying to make sense of the police-involved shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. Note: a grand jury has decided there will be no state prosecution. It's an odd assumption and assertion given that Chicago has had to pay out a multi-million-dollar settlement for allowing an officer to torture false confessions out of suspects for decades, and its mayor may not survive an effort to push him out of office due to other incidents of alleged police misconduct and coordinated cover-ups.
It's a very odd assumption and assertion indeed unless one assumes that the middle of the United States is full of white people who don't care much at all about justice, child safety, police conduct or any other number of related issues. Of course, that all assumes that "middle America" wasn't really just Giuliani's code for white America -- or the portion of the United States that he believes matters.
If Giuliani is right about any of that, then we are in trouble as a country. Fortunately, more than a few recent polls indicate that he is not. It's true that black Americans seem to feel more strongly about a host of policy and political issues related to alleged police misconduct. But no one can look at the data below and say that white Americans do not care at all. And given that, even Giuliani's artistic review amounts to a fail.
Truthfully, there are a whole string of occasions in which Giuliani has made the same claims that he did Monday and offered up the same advice, usually directed specifically at black America. We need not list them all here. These kinds of comments have helped Giuliani craft a kind of second-act media career, something to do since Giuliani's attempts to leverage his view of his unique 9/11 heroism into the White House failed. But there is one previous set of Giuliani comments on issues connected to alleged police misconduct that really should never ever be forgotten.
In the wake of the death of an unarmed African immigrant named Amadou Diallo -- killed in a hail of 41 bullets fired by New York City police -- and a state court's decision not to convict the officers involved in the man's death, Giuliani said the officers followed "standard procedure." Yes, "standard procedure" left a man with no criminal record and no weapon with no life left in his body. But according to Giuliani -- while still mayor and ostensibly the boss of a police force with its share of known problems and a series of high-profile shooting deaths and alleged police abuses in its record-- that was not something about which to be alarmed.
We would invite lots of people to contemplate that.