Police targeted journalists who had clearly identified themselves. Journalist Linda Tirado is permanently blind in her left eye now. |Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images 

NOTE: In the interest of full disclosure, I am a biracial Chinese-American with Black family and family in law enforcement. 

Law enforcement officers differ as much as any massive group of people. Generalizing them is not reasonable, just as it would not be for groups like medical doctors and nurses, for example. Though I have both in my family, it troubles me not at all to condemn bad actors. 

Some of this I suspect is the culture of science where you won’t make it long without embracing blunt criticism, on what you thought was perfect. 

I must rein it in sometimes—not everyone enjoys impromptu peer-review. 

It is unspeakably freeing though, saying exactly what you think and see, knowing your peer won’t misunderstand because you’ve handed them the precise means by which their work will be even better. 

Take the case of Dr. Christopher Duntsch, who repeatedly practiced while intoxicated. He maimed and killed people, and when no one stopped him, he kept going. Those around him covered it up, said nothing, or fired him with no formal action. 

 

 

One man hurt so many people, and he could not have done it without the many silent approvals from peers. The people he hurt might have been spared if his peers had done the tough thing and stopped him. That failure cost lives, as it so often does when we stay silent in the face of corruption.

Not everyone is cut out for calling people out on unacceptable behavior. That’s OK; don’t take a position where lives depend on it, though. Accepting power means accepting that duty. 

Police officers, like medical doctors, have a responsibility to use their power honorably. Accepting power and hurting those helpless to stop it is perverse, regardless of who does it. 

 

An elderly man bleeds from his ears after being shoved by riot police. (WBFO via Reuters TV)

 

It is precisely because of decent people who share the same title, that those sullying the entire field infuriate me. I expect good medical doctors to be angrier still—not less.

A doctor defending a dereliction of duty, while expecting unconditional support from the people at their mercy, is jarringly selfish. It says a person lacks empathy and maturity, that they think little of their peers, and that neither the bad actors nor the enablers believe they should be capable of more. 

It is for honorable people I have known that I will never lump them together.

What does it say when someone expects blind support, even when they have been wrong? What does it say if they expect your defense for their reprehensible peers? 

That you think as little of me as you do yourself, it would seem.

 

Protesters walked arm-in-arm with police in Detroit, Michigan

 

It is a sad reality that we have become so unable to admit we have been wrong that we will demand those around us to stoop down with us. Not holding people accountable is ultimately an act of selfishness that hurts everyone.

For the people of good moral character, especially principled police officers and medical doctors alike, I will never accept less, nor will I allow corrupt people to use respectable individuals as a shield, manipulating us into thinking opposition to depraved acts equals opposition to all.

It doesn’t; that’s obvious.

 

The choice isn’t between police and people who suffered injustice. It’s between honorable people who stand against abuse of power, and those seeking to manipulate us into standing in the way of them receiving justice. 

 

This is the opposite of saying all police are bad. It is the people who lash out at those who distinguish good police from the bad that implies they are all the same. Why else would you defend it? I will not allow lesser people incapable of taking personal responsibility to define the good people I have known. 

 

Will you?

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In memory of countless men, women, children, and infants ripped from their families and taken to a land where their human dignity was denied, where they lived bearing the names of arrogant men who claimed to own them.

So egregious was their treatment that it reverberates to today. We would rather pretend it never happened, but for Black Americans that luxury does not exist. Our country must own its atrocities, or we mock ourselves when we proclaim this nation’s greatness.

Greatness isn’t something we claim; it’s something we do.


#SayTheirNames

I would also like to recall the memory of Vincent Chin, an Asian-American who died after two white men brutally beat him to death because they mistook him for Japanese.

For killing Vincent, a 27-year-old man, days before his wedding, the court fined his confessed murderers $3000.

Vincent was buried on the day he meant to marry the love of his life. Many in the Asian community have begun to feel his story sounds more like a modern headline than one from times long since past. 

The mural displays figures from both Asian and Black civil rights movements: Vincent Chin, depicted in a portrait held by his mother; American Citizens for Justice, Helen Zia; and Dr. Martin Luther King who first said “I have a dream.” 

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