New York's Foulest

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

The Times looks at a Facebook page and finds a bunch of New York cops being racist. Yawn:


The comments in the online group, which grew over a few days to some 1,200 members, were at times so offensive in referring to West Indian and African-American neighborhoods that some participants warned others to beware how their words might be taken in a public setting open to Internal Affairs "rats." 

But some of the people who posted comments seemed emboldened by Facebook's freewheeling atmosphere. "Let them kill each other," wrote one of the Facebook members who posted comments under a name that matched that of a police officer. 

 "Filth," wrote a commenter who identified himself as Nick Virgilio, another participant whose name matched that of a police officer. 

"It's not racist if it's true," yet another wrote.

And if armed with the lethal power of the state, it's most certainly true. People should think about this sort of attitude in conjunction with stop and frisk.

I keep going back that John Q Adams quote which Louis Menand highlighted -- "Power always thinks it has a great soul." It's very difficult for us to grasp the notion that cops are human beings, subject to the same racial biases and flaws of other human beings. This is not a plea for mercy on their behalf. It's a plea for understanding that abuse will happen. A gun and a badge do not confer a "great soul."

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/12/new-yorks-foulest/249566/