When it comes to the linkage between violence and rhetoric, I abide by a fairly simple rule: If you're not advocating violence, you're not responsible for violence. That doesn't mean your rhetoric is decent or appropriate; it may be vile, awful and factually incorrect. But it isn't the cause for violence.
President Barack Obama also abides by a simple rule when it comes to linking violence and rhetoric: If he doesn't like the rhetoric, it's responsible for violence. And if there's violence associated with rhetoric he likes, then the violence must have been caused by something else.
This shining double standard was on full display this week after an anti-white racist black man shot 14 police officers in Dallas just hours after Obama appeared on national television explaining that alleged instances of police brutality and racism were "not isolated incidents" but rather "symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system." Obama was happy to label the shootings of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota, without evidence, as part of a broader racist trend in law enforcement across the country.
Then Micah Xavier Johnson opened fire on white police officers — and anti-police racist radicals attacked officers in Minnesota, Tennessee, Missouri, Georgia and Texas again — and Obama suddenly got amnesia. Now, it turned out, rhetoric had nothing to do with their actions. In fact, said Obama, he had no idea why Johnson — who explicitly said he wanted to murder white cops — would do such a thing. "I think it's very hard to untangle the motives of this shooter," Obama said while in Poland. "What triggers that, what feeds it, what sets it off — I'll leave that to psychologists and people who study these kinds of incidents." He did blame one element for the attack, however: lack of gun control. "If you care about the safety of our police officers," he lied, "you can't set aside the gun issue and pretend that that's irrelevant."
Odd how this works. When a white racist shoots up a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, Obama targets America's legacy of racism, and the entire media call for a national fight against Confederate flags; when a nut tries to shoot up a Planned Parenthood building in Colorado, the left emerges to claim that the pro-life movement bears culpability. But when an Orlando jihadi shoots up a gay nightclub, Obama and company declare the motives totally mysterious and then impugn Christian social conservatives and the National Rifle Association.
Here's the truth: Obama's rhetoric isn't responsible for murder, but it's certainly responsible for death. That's because Obama's racist rhetoric has led to the greatest rise in racial polarization since the 1970s. In 2010, just 13 percent of Americans worried about race relations, whereas in April 2016, 35 percent of Americans did. That racial polarization has, in turn, led to distrust of police officers, many of whom respond by pulling out of the communities that need their help most. Crime rates go up, including murder rates. Ironically, Obama's supposed rage at white officers killing blacks leads to more blacks killing blacks in cities no longer policed by whites.
But there's good news: Obama can always blame everyone else. When you're held responsible for your feelings rather than your actions, it's always simple to direct attention toward the evil conservatives who insist that all lives matter rather than care enough about black lives to save them by endorsing the police who work to protect black men and women every day.
Ben Shapiro, 32, is a graduate of UCLA and Harvard Law School, a radio host on KRLA 870 Los Angeles and KTIE 590 Orange County, host of "The Ben Shapiro Show" and editor-in-chief of DailyWire.com. He is the New York Times best-selling author of "Bullies." He lives with his wife and two children in Los Angeles.