[A]n unarmed woman was gunned down on the streets of Washington for no apparent crime other than driving too near Barackingham Palace and thereby posing a threat to national security. As disturbing as Miriam Carey’s bullet-riddled body and vehicle were, the public indifference to it is even worse. Ms. Carey does not appear to be guilty of any act other than a panic attack when the heavy-handed and heavier-armed palace guard began yelling at her. Much of what was reported in the hours after her death seems dubious: We are told Ms. Carey was “mentally ill,” although she had no medications in her vehicle and those at her home back in Connecticut are sufficiently routine as to put millions of other Americans in the category of legitimate target. We are assured that she suffered from post-partum depression, as if the inability to distinguish between a depressed mom and a suicide bomber testifies to the officers’ professionalism. Under D.C. police rules, cops are not permitted to fire on a moving vehicle, because of the risk to pedestrians and other drivers. But the Secret Service and the Capitol Police enjoy no such restraints, so the car doors are full of bullet holes. The final moments of the encounter remain a mystery, but police were supposedly able to extract Ms. Carey’s baby from the back of a two-door vehicle before dispatching the defenseless mother to meet her maker.
Did I mention she was African American? When a black teen dies in a late-night one-on-one encounter with a fellow citizen on the streets of Sanford, Fla., it’s the biggest thing since Selma. But when a defenseless black woman is gunned down by a posse of robocops in broad daylight on the streets of the capital, the Reverend Jackson and the Reverend Sharpton and all the other bouffed and pampered grievance-mongers are apparently cool with it.
This isn’t very difficult. When you need large numbers of supposedly highly trained elite officers to kill an unarmed woman with a baby, you’re doing it wrong. In perhaps the most repugnant reaction to Ms. Carey’s death, the United States Congress expressed their “gratitude” to the officers who killed her and gave them a standing ovation.
This was a repulsive act by Congress.
Miriam Carey is already forgotten, and the lawyer her family hired has now, conveniently, been jailed for a bad debt. I am not one for cheap historical analogies: My mother spent four of her childhood years under Nazi occupation, and it is insulting to her and millions of others who know the real thing to bandy overheated comparisons. But there is a despotic trend in American government. Too many of our rulers and their enforcers reflexively see the citizenry primarily as a threat. Which is why the tautness of one’s buns is now probable cause, and why in Congress the so-called people’s representatives’ first instinct is to stand and cheer the death of a defenseless woman.
Worship him as I do, Mark Steyn glosses over a few important points. The late Ms. Carey did have a documented history of erratic behavior—if not outright loopiness (yes, loopiness—look it up in the DSM). She did try to drive her car onto White House grounds, and she did knock over a Secret Service agent while trying to get away.
The chain-of-events began when the woman sped onto a driveway leading to the White House, over a set of barricades. When the driver couldn’t get through a second barrier, she spun the car in the opposite direction, flipping a Secret Service officer over the hood of the car as she sped away, said B.J. Campbell, a tourist from Portland, Ore.
“This wasn’t no accident. She was not a lost tourist,” Campbell said later near the scene that had been blocked off with police tape.
Then the chase began.
“The car was trying to get away. But it was going over the median and over the curb,” said Matthew Coursen, who was watching from a cab window when the Infiniti sped by him. “The car got boxed in and that’s when I saw an officer of some kind draw his weapon and fire shots into the car.”
And yet, the story may not be so cut and dry. Before the lawyer was jailed:
Besides, I remember another time Mark Steyn held his applause at the gunning down of another “terrorist”:
Mark Steyn 12:01AM BST 26 Jul 2005
[W]e turn to Jean Charles de Menezes, the supposed “suicide bomber” who turned out to be a Brazilian electrician on his way to work. Unfortunately, by the time the Metropolitan Police figured that out, they’d put five bullets in his head. We’re told we shouldn’t second-guess split-second decisions that have to be made under great stress by those on the scene, which would be a more persuasive argument if the British constabulary didn’t spend so much time doing exactly that to homeowners who make the mistake of defending themselves against violent criminals. And, if summary extrajudicial execution was so urgent, why did the surveillance team let him take a bus ride before eventually cornering him in the Tube?
[F]ew of us had an inkling of the Met’s new “shoot to kill” policy until they shot and killed Mr de Menezes. And although I’ve had a ton of e-mails pointing out various sinister aspects of his behaviour – he was wearing a heavy coat! he refused to stop! – it seems to me there are an awful lot of people on the Tube who might easily find themselves in Mr de Menezes’s position.
I happened to be passing through London on Friday. It didn’t feel terribly warm, but I spend half a year up to my neck in snow so when it climbs to a balmy 48 I start wearing T-shirts. But I can understand why a Brazilian might find 61 and overcast no reason to eschew a heavy jacket. So a man in a suspiciously warm coat refuses to stop for the police. Well, they were a plain-clothes unit – ie, a gang – and confronted by unidentified men brandishing weapons in south London I’d scram, too.
Mr de Menezes is forgotten; Miriam Carey is on her way to join him in oblivion eight years later. Their behaviors aroused suspicion, and in tense times (Tube bombings and Navy Yard shootings) their unnecessary deaths were “collateral damage” in the war on terror. There’s a fair amount of that going around—if I were a Waziristan grandmother, I’d leave the fu**ing okra to rot on the vine, or however it grows.
It is what it is, the sports cliche goes. But we don’t have to like it. We don’t have to excuse it. And shame on us, forever, if we choose to forget it.