Once in a while there’s a moment of transparency that lays bare for all to see how an influential institution “thinks.” For me one came Sunday, when Keven Ann Willey of The Dallas Morning News wrote about how the paper’s editorial board had come to name its 2016 Texan of the Year. (The winner was a federal judge for the southern part of Texas named Janis Jack, by the way.) To those, like me, who’d assumed that former Dallas Police Chief David Brown would be sort of a shoo-in—and rightfully so—for the designation this year, Willey’s explanation was like a slap in the face.
“The most vigorous discussion about representation was around the Dallas ambush that left five law enforcement officers dead,” Willey wrote. “Should we single out Chief David Brown to represent that issue? What about the Black Lives Matter protest that was breaking up when the deranged sniper began firing into the crowds? Do we have to pick one to the exclusion of the other?” In the end the paper chose magnanimously to focus on Brown, although the ex-chief wound up as just one of 11 “finalists” for the honor.
What was most telling about his treatment by the editorial board was that, in considering Chief Brown’s calm, wise, deeply felt, universally praised response to the havoc wrought by a twisted killer, the DMN gave equal weight to a group whose “protest” march attracted the cop-hating psychopath to the streets of downtown Dallas in the first place. All in all, I’d say, the board’s deliberation was a demonstration of vacuous moral relativism at its finest. Then again, when you have a close relative who serves as a policeman—not in Texas, in another state—you tend to be a little bit sensitive about this sort of lame and, yes, potentially dangerous “thinking.”