Who gets believed, in our age of ever-present media, is who talks the loudest. Donald Trump, for example.
Then there's the Black Lives Matter movement, with its clamorous dedication to the idea that white racism is behind the killing of black men around the country, nothing else -- not circumstance, not misjudgment, not fear -- just out-and-out racism, end of discussion, period, shut up.
Accordingly, Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman's morally incontestable claim -- "all lives matter" -- isn't getting much traction with those committed to the Black Lives Matter narrative. A black man shoots an off-duty but uniformed white deputy in the back, pumping additional lead into him as he lies on the ground. Yes, too bad. But let's not confuse it with the real issue, as defined by Black Lives Matter and the national media after the cop shootings in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland -- that issue being ... Black Lives Matter.
That they don't matter, and shouldn't, is the morally disabling claim we never hear. Why? No one makes such a claim, that's why. The claim we may be starting to hear -- faintly, but growing in volume -- is a once-familiar one: that the lives of "pigs" don't matter. "Pigs," if you weren't around for that joyous picnic known as the 1960s, are cops. Assorted black militants in those militant days carried banners urging readers to "Off the Pigs." "Off" meant "kill" -- you know, terminate, exterminate, execute in cold blood. A few actually obeyed that gruesome injunction.
Apparently the pig-call still has its enchantments. At the Minnesota State Fair over the weekend, marchers in a protest by Black Lives Matter's local group can be heard in a Twitter video shouting, "Pigs in a blanket! Fry 'em like bacon."
So "pigs'" lives don't matter. The Harris County gunman, Shannon Jaruay Miles, may have thought so when he saw the deputy, Darren Goforth, pumping gas and decided to make a statement -- about something.
It seems fair to ask whether, in like fashion, Vester Lee Flanagan, who was black, decided that the lives of the Roanoke TV figures Alison Parker and Adam Ward, being white lives, mattered only marginally, if at all. He shot them both to death, in any case.
None of which is to suggest that race relations are returning to '60s standards. It is to suggest that still latent (and sometimes more-than-latent) tensions between races play out badly when the media are shopping for quotes and the politicians for votes.
The media, which lean overwhelmingly left, and the political fraternity, with its own leftist component, don't fool around much with narratives that contradict left-wing (aka "progressive") essentials. Among these essentials: the conviction that American whites, having racked up a record of racial oppression, are due for a comeuppance. On such terms, a dead white cop, shot by an inner-city (or in the Harris County case, a suburban) black man isn't half so interesting a story as an inner-city black man shot by a white cop.
Excluding racism as a grievance causes you to fall back on more embarrassing factors: e.g., the country's moral/cultural climate, wherein Doing Whatever You Feel Like Doing is the normal expectation; when "guilt" for the past can be made to compensate emotionally for present-day failures and shortcomings; when government remedies (gun control, more spending, etc.) can be represented as more urgent than any morally reparative work likely to come out of home or school or church.
It becomes more important, on these paltry terms, to haul away a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis from the University of Texas main mall (as happened over the weekend of the Minnesota fair demonstrations and the Harris County execution) than, say, to pray for human reconciliation on terms profounder than modern academic leaders are likely to understand or commend.
The barrenness of the public mind, circa 2015, is the reverse image of the public heart our alleged leaders have helped to form -- anxious, excitable, overwrought. And sterile, in the end.