Another day, another killing in America, another depressingly instant social-media argument over the perpetrator’s skin color. This time a man rammed his car into two Capitol Hill police officers in Washington DC. One, Officer William Evans, died. The other is seriously injured. The attacker then emerged from his car wielding a knife at other officers before he was shot and killed.
Once again, various blue-checked Twitterers decided to assume that the killer must be some angry white Trump supporter, presumably because the last time the Capitol was attacked it was by a horde of angry Trumpists.
But there was no evidence to suggest the killer was white. Indeed, in a video clip of the man being wheeled away having his chest pumped, his skin appeared dark. He’s been identified online and by NBC as Noah Green, a black man and Nation of Islam follower whose Facebook profile has just been removed.
Sure enough, conservative media have fired up their online apoplexy engines — and endless right-wingers are now saying that the media will now drop the story because the bad man isn’t white. The worst part is they might be right.
But it’s all so premature, vapid and disgusting — the ridiculous game of ‘Guess the Killer’s Race’ that greets every awful crime these days. It shows no empathy, scant concern at best for the victims. It is merely the same everyday tendency to throw everything on to the moronic political inferno we all dance around and for some reason still call the culture wars. Only on these occasions the tendency is a little uglier since the circumstances are so grim.
Police have said they have no reason to believe the killing was an act of terrorism. It’s true the perimeter fence around the Capitol — which had been up since ‘the storming of Congress’ in January — was removed last week. There may now be calls to resurrect the fence over the Easter weekend, but that would be hasty. Central Washington has effectively resembled a war zone for long enough. Violence wins when it turns civilized urban life into a nightmare.
For now, could we not stop bickering at each other while pretending to vent your angry grief? Cut the demented race stuff. Put down the phones and spare a thought for poor Officer Evans and his family.