Driving While White

Social justice replaces equal justice.

Are all bad drivers created equal? Not in Seattle they're not, where the city attorney has made it his goal to reduce prosecutions of drivers caught driving with suspended licenses by 90 percent. Apparently going after drivers with suspended licenses is racist "because blacks and other racial minorities are more likely to be poor than Whites and unable to pay their fines."

You might think that driving with a suspended license is a matter that endangers everyone of all races, colors and creeds. Last year two women in Seattle were killed by a driver with a suspended license who was driving while high on methamphetamines. Both the perpetrator, George A. Ross, and one of his female victims, Kiana Cormier, were African-American.

In 2004 the big issue in Seattle's city council elections was ending the impounding of vehicles from drivers caught driving with suspended licenses. Councilman Richard McIver said that impounding a vehicle was similar to "taking someone's shoes for jaywalking."

Despite a study which showed that drivers with suspended licenses were 2.5 times more likely to get into accidents, Seattle's city government continued pushing a "driver's license optional" policy in the name of racial and economic justice. But where is the racial and economic justice when young black women like Kiana are killed because the authorities would rather pander than enforce the law and do their jobs? As usual the first victims of liberal social justice are the very minority groups they claim to want to help.

But in Seattle, one police officer is speaking out against the tyranny of political correctness.

Officer Pomper wrote an article in The Guardian, a Seattle police newspaper put out by the Seattle Police Officers Guild, titled "Just Shut Up and Be a Good Little Socialist," which addressed the socialist hegemony that officers were expected to endure. "Employing the Race and Social Justice Initiative, the City of Seattle is actually deciding on which people do or do not 'merit punishment' for a crime, based upon their race, ethnic heritage, and/or socio-economic status. So far this only applies to DWLS3, but one has to ask, what's next?"

Seattle's Mayor Mike McGinn responded to police criticism by saying, "I just don’t think there is room for in this city for police officers who think issues of race and social justice aren’t important… and who think addressing the issues of race and social justice is unwarranted."

Although Pomper wrote his article off duty as a private citizen and not as a representative of the SPD, repeated attempts were made to keep him from speaking out against a policy that amounts to racial profiling. By treating a disparity in racial offenses as proof of intolerance, the City of Seattle is racializing even an item of law as objectively color neutral as whether a driver has a valid license or not.

Pomper pointed out that not only has the city attorney decided to reduce prosecutions of suspended licenses, but unlike other traffic offenses which are dealt by the officer, the city attorney has routed these cases through his office to “determine who merits punishment.” If “merit” is determined by race, rather than offense, than “Driving While White” becomes the real crime.

The only way to make crime rates racially equivalent is to juggle enforcement in ways that make "Driving While White" into a serious offense or to stop enforcing the law on classes of offenses or areas with a larger proportion of minority offenders. Neither one can be described as upholding the law. Both amount to racial profiling at the grand statistical level, as officers are being guided to make fewer arrests and prosecutors are being taught to file fewer charges to balance the racial scales.

As Officer Pomper has pointed out, "Don’t you love the irony? After many years of the City and community activist groups unsuccessfully attempting to prove that Seattle police officers are guilty of racially profiling its citizens (and non-citizens), the City offers proof that it’s the one racially profiling, and further, it even wants to pass laws and implement policies to support it. Amazing!"

The Race and Social Justice Initiative's goal of total equity is ironic as Seattle is actually the fifth whitest city in America, and while Asians are its largest minority group, African-Americans are found at a lower percentage than in the country as a whole. Seattle also has one of the lowest crimes rates in the country, rates which rise higher in its minority neighborhoods.

Diminishing law enforcement to maintain statistical racial parity means that the police and prosecutors would have to ignore crime in minority neighborhoods, making those neighborhoods even more dangerous. The more law enforcement is under pressure to look away from minority neighborhoods, the more their residents suffer from crime. And arguably that is one of the reasons for the disparity in racial crime statistics.

If race and ethnicity become the determinants of whether a criminal is charged, then not only does Driving While White become a real offense, taking the place of Driving While Black, but minority communities lose out on law enforcement leading to more tragedies like Kiana's.

"Social justice is not compatible with equal justice," Officer Pomper warned. "In cities run by ideological progressives, there’s a new political machine in town. No longer content to be mainstream lefties who simply want to impose higher taxes on the productive and then spend the money on whomever is the victim class of the moment, they are now openly violating the Constitution with their push for social justice, which, as they practice it, works in direct opposition to equal justice."

Unequal enforcement of the law has the net effect of making the law worthless and increasing crime. Such forms of social justice actually create inequity by turning a blind eye to conditions in minority neighborhoods that make aspiration into a much bigger challenge for its residents. And they also feed racial tensions, as the minority sees things worsening for them without being able to identify the cause, and the majority sees their neighbors as a privileged class who are being given a free pass.

Seattle's liberalism may make it an outlier for some, but programs that take root in one city create pressure for other cities to adopt it as well. As the social justice statisticians take over law enforcement, we can expect that Driving While White will become a crime across America.