Three important things happened this week. Two were insufficiently noted.
Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, fallen three years ago to Islamic State, was liberated by forces of the Iraqi government. Not long ago ISIS, the first and true sustained scum of the 21st century, was seen as militarily formidable and ideologically perhaps indomitable. Now they’ve disappeared into the hills. The fall of Mosul is a blow to their mystique, and that of radical Islam. As for the Iraqi military, not long ago it was derided as unprofessional and barely loyal to its own country. Now it has succeeded, with the help and encouragement of the U.S., including its special forces.
Whatever your convictions about America’s presence and policy in the Mideast, whether you trend nationalist or neoconservative, America First or Lead From Behind; whatever your personal disposition, be it bitterness over the blunders of the past or half-mad with schemes for the future; and whether you judge the ultimate beneficiary of Mosul’s liberation to be the current Iraqi government, the idea of a stable democracy, or the schemers of Iran, we should pause to recognize what just occurred and say:
This is a victory. For what? Civilization.***
The second story too involves admirable people in uniform.
This week the New York City Police Department buried one of its own, also one of our own. We should put aside a moment to mourn.
The murdered officer was Miosotis Familia, 48, reportedly the youngest of 10 children of Dominican immigrants and the first in her family to attend college. She had three children and cared for her own ailing mother. She’d been a cop for 12 years. She was one of the people who keep my city of 8.5 million up and operating each day, in both its personal and public spheres.
She was on the midnight shift in the Bronx on Wednesday, July 5. Her killer, 34-year-old Alexander Bonds, was a lowlife and prison parolee with untreated mental illness. He posted threatening anticop rants on Facebook. The night of the murder he walked up to her police vehicle and fired once through the window, shooting Officer Familia in the head. Police shot him dead soon after.
Here is NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill at her funeral this week at the World Changers Church: “Let me tell you something. Regular people sign up to be cops. They sign up for this job of protecting strangers knowing the inherent risks. . . . But not one of us ever agreed to be murdered in an act of indefensible hate. Not one of us signed up to never return to our family or loved ones. So where are the demonstrations for this single mom who cared for her elderly mother and her own three children?”
The 4,000 mourners stood and burst into sustained applause. Mr. O’Neill continued: “There is anger and sorrow, but why is there no outrage? Because Miosotis was wearing a uniform? Because it was her job? I simply do not accept that. Miosotis was targeted, ambushed and assassinated. She wasn’t given a chance to defend herself. That should matter to every single person who can hear my voice in New York City and beyond.”
Unnamed but a clear focus of Mr. O’Neill’s remarks was the radicalism and rage of the Black Lives Matter movement, coupled with a national media too often willing to paint the police, in any given incident, as guilty until proven innocent. This sets a mood that both excites and inspires the unsteady and unstable.
Mr. O’Neill: “When we demonize a whole group of people, whether that group is defined by race, by religion or by occupation, this is the result. I don’t know how else to say it. This was an act of hate, in this case against police officers—the very people who stepped forward and made a promise to protect you day and night.”
We are not paying enough attention to what is happening to the police throughout the country. As this was being written, Newsweek reported the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund claims that the number of officers killed in the line of duty was up 30% for the 12 months ending June 30, compared with the preceding year. That number doesn’t include Miosotis Familia. The head of the Memorial Fund said: “Officers have been targeted for the job they do, shot and killed, or hit with vehicles.”
It should be a major, sustained national story when cops are killed for being cops. Yet each incident never gels into a theme. The media caravan moves on.
Orwell spoke of forcing inconvenient stories down the memory hole. It is a feature of our age that we now force them down the hole before they’ve had a chance to become a memory.***
Now to the story that did get attention. Can you hear your columnist sigh?
Donald Trump Jr. ’s adventure with sketchy characters claiming to represent Russia made me think of a quote from a deadly old 19th-century European diplomat. It’s no trick to fool a man who thinks himself clever, he said, but a plain, honest man—that can be a challenge.
One of the things campaigns always have to watch out for is bumptious oafs who think themselves sophisticated.
The White House defense of the Trump Jr. meeting is essentially a question: Who wouldn’t take a meeting with someone who has negative information on your political opponent?
But that’s not the question. This someone was purportedly representing a foreign government. And that government was an adversary of the U.S.
Who wouldn’t take that meeting? Anyone with a brain and a gut. Anyone who didn’t think “House of Cards” is a moral template for modern political behavior.
Former opposition researchers are angry. I asked one, who worked in George H.W. Bush’s 1988 campaign: Suppose a representative of a foreign state, or a person claiming ties to that state, contacted you and said: “We have some dirt on your opponent.” What would your reaction have been?
“Immediately we would have walked away,” he said.
What if the foreign government was an adversary of the U.S.? “Hell no. You don’t go there.”
He recalled there was chatter in 1988 that the Stasi, East Germany’s domestic spy agency, had dirt on the Democratic presidential nominee. The Bush campaign rejected any possible contact out of hand. “There’s such a thing as self-discipline,” he said.
It is wrong to let another nation take an active role in a campaign for the U.S. presidency. It is imprudent, and also rather unpatriotic. It’s not their government, it’s ours. It can be assumed that we will attempt to look out for America’s interests, and they will not.
What should Donald Trump Jr. have done when the music promoter urged him to meet with the representative of the Russian government who had secret, big-league, deep, dark info on Hillary Clinton ?
As Sen. Lindsey Graham told President Trump’s FBI nominee: “If you get a call from somebody suggesting that a foreign government wants to help you by disparaging your opponent, tell us all to call the FBI.”
I add: And send word of the contact to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, with the information that you have not and will not respond. Because that would have helped our political civilization.
Was it collusion? It was worse, it was classless.