The details of what happened in the Dallas deadly shooting of an innocent black man are still being looked at, but a local police officer named Amber Guyger mistakenly went into her neighbor’s apartment, and then shot and killed him. The officer is of course white, while the victim of this murder, Botham Shem Jean, was black.
A few days following the slaying, Guyger got charged with manslaughter (not murder, which is still so typical for America), but soon after, the local officials started to smear Jean by telling the media that he had 10 grams of marijuana stashed in his apartment when he got killed, as though that justifies his murder.
Unsurprisingly, this is now an important election-year issue for candidates running in Texas, and Senator Ted Cruz (R), during his first debate Friday with Representative Beto O’Rourke (D), criticized his rival over his reasonable remarks about the officer who murdered her unarmed neighbor. Like the Washington Post reported, following the debate, Cruz went even further in his support of a police officer who murdered an African-American for no reason.
Sen. Ted Cruz’s most popular tweet Friday night – the one with tens of thousands of likes, retweets and comments – ostensibly was meant to slam his Democratic opponent, U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke.
“In Beto O’Rourke’s own words,” tweeted the Texas Republican, who has found himself in the midst of a surprisingly tight reelection race for his U.S. Senate seat in a formerly solid-red state.
Cruz then linked to a video of a speech O’Rourke gave at a Dallas church in which he discussed the death of a local resident named Botham Shem Jean…. “How can it be – in this day and age, in this very year, in this community – that a young man, African American, in his own apartment, is shot and killed by a police officer?” O’Rourke asked the congregation, which grew increasingly animated.
The fact that Ted Cruz was eager to promote Beto O’Rourke’s compassionate remarks seemed baffling: he didn’t say anything that was controversial. Indeed, it was not at all clear what O’Rourke said that the racist far-right senator disagreed so much with.
It seemed like it was destined to backfire: that tweet showed Cruz’s opponent making very sensible observations while in a Baptist church regarding a tragic shooting, and the congregation agreed with what Beto O’Rourke had to say.
But there’s a lot more behind this, and it has to do with Republican racism and white supremacy.
Jon Chait’s incisive analysis of Cruz’s strategy is as follows:
The element that Cruz considers damning is O’Rourke campaigning against police injustice (even a very clear one) before a heavily black audience. Cruz understands that his victory requires overwhelming support and turnout from whites, and he believes that if his opponent is seen as representing African-Americans and their dismay with the system, it will cause a white backlash from which he will benefit.
This is not Trump-style overt racism. It is old-fashioned conservative wink-and-nod Willie Horton racism, leading the audience toward the desired conclusion without shouting it out for them like Trump does.
Cruz’s strategy is simple enough. If O’Rourke had some made anti-police comments, then the current senator’s effort would be much easier to defend. But Beto O’Rourke said nothing that was anti-police, he just lamented that an innocent man died.
Rather, this is just an example of Cruz wanting Texas voters to see his liberal challenger talking to a predominantly African-American audience, in a prominent African-American church, regarding the injustice of an African-American man who lived in the community being shot and killed while in his own apartment, for no reason.
Just five years ago, Cruz said that the first political contribution that he ever made was 10 years ago – when he sent Senator Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) a 10 dollar contribution. “We need 100 more like Jesse Helms,” Ted Cruz said in 2013, which is extremely ominous.
Helms was notorious for running shamelessly racist campaign ads on TV. Let’s hope Cruz does not continue down a similar racist road.