Backlash Notes, Cruz Edition

Ever since the virtual strike of cops in New York and Baltimore in conjunction with protests against police shootings of unarmed African-Americans, I’ve been concerned that on the brink of potential bipartisan action on criminal justice reform we’d see a 1960s-1970s style backlash fed by vote hungry conservative politicians. The recent spikein some forms of violent crime after decades of gradually declining rates struck me as likely to create some ugly racial dynamics as well, or at least “buyer’s remorse” among conservatives for police or criminal justice reform.

With his usual lack of inhibition, Donald Trump was first to get in touch with his inner Frank Rizzo, arguing that even if police were unjustly targeting African-Americans it was important to “give back power to the police” to deal with the “crime wave.”

Now Trump’s buddy Ted Cruz is climbing on board the same old twentieth century law-and-order bandwagon after the shooting of a police officer in Houston (as reported by TPM’s Allegra Kirkland:

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) suggested President Obama bore some of the blame for Friday’s fatal shooting of a sheriff’s deputy in Houston, Texas. During a campaign stop in New Hampshire, Cruz told reporters that “cops across this country are feeling the assault” thanks to the “vilification” of law enforcement by administration officials, the Dallas Morning News reported.

“These are brave heroes who risk their lives keeping us safe,” Cruz said. “And I do think we’re seeing the manifestation of the rhetoric and vilification of law enforcement, of police, that is coming from the president of the United States and it’s coming from senior officials.”

Cruz’s comments come just days after Harris County deputy Darren Goforth was shot 15 times while pumping gas at a Houston Chevron station. No motive has yet been found for the killing, but the alleged shooter, Shannon Miles, has been charged with capital murder.

Local authorities, including Harris County Sherriff Ron Hickman, believe Goforth “was a target because he wore a uniform.”

Cruz suggested President Obama’s condemnation of the fatal shootings of unarmed black teenagers in cities including Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland helped to inflame anti-cop sentiment.

There you have it: express concern about the police shooting black people without cause and you are inciting cop-killers. Yet in the same breath Cruz accuses of Obama of inflaming “racial divisions.”

Yeah, it’s feeling mighty 1970 out there.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.