This struck me as condescending and weak analysis, but I restrained myself, thinking, 'The Atlantic deciding when people can be concerned about the rights of the accused and when they can't' is just absurd enough to not matter.
I don't think it has escaped anyone's notice that Prep School Brett lived a life of privilege, so trying to say only the Black men who support him somehow don't understand that comes off as weirdly racist (I don't think the author is racist or intended that, I just think they're just a partisan hack). No chance that strange idea would escape the lab, I thought.
Then I saw this, a quite unusual campaign ad from a Republican specifically pitching African Americans on the weak stance of Democrats on the rights of the accused. I read only a small amount of the Twitter discussion before I realized, at least some additional sanity needs to be added to the discussion.
My first thought is, if Democrats get outflanked on criminal justice reform, of course African Americans will be the first ones to break with the core of their party. "Black Lives Matter" is the core of the liberal criminal justice reform movement. You may detect, in that name, a perception that their race is subjected to gross mistreatment.
It's also worth saying, in 2018, that I don't think the ad is racist, despite having something of a racial caricature. It's a one minute ad. Everyone is painted in one dimension in these tight ad spots. I'm also not crazy about the presumption we should only hear from black Americans when they speak with the prestige dialect, so having a radio spot where someone seems audibly African American to make a point to that audience, that seems fine to me. Even specifically targeting people on race seems fine – again, Black Lives Matter specifically makes race an element of the discussion about criminal justice, and this ad specifically addresses their point.
I do have a problem with the ad, though.
Let's say there are three ideological groups. Let's call one Police+, another #BelieveSurvivors, and a third Fuck Tha Police.
Police+ believe strongly that more police and better police support improves communities. And they feel that by focusing on mistakes of police can undermine that support and damage the community, when what those communities need is a stronger police force, brutal, even, if that's needed in extreme moments to combat brutality.
#BelieveSurvivors believe strongly that disgusting acts of terror are being excused because they done in relative privacy or for only brief moments in time. And they feel that the system has failed them and the solution is to adjust the balance of the system to make things easier for prosecutors and victims to extract the justice they deserve.
Fuck Tha Police believe strongly that the system basically has failed, and maybe not just them. And they feel that the system would stop failing them if it was truer to its own professed principles, was more fair and honest, and maybe contained fewer racists.
Here's my take: everything these groups believe strongly is essentially true. But political alliances are driven by feelings, and the feelings of the first two groups make stronger allies than the last two groups. That's what these ads are meant to point out. Even if Jeff Sessions isn't going to be leading a Black Lives Matter protest, they can point out how fragile the modern liberal criminal justice alliance is.
My issue is, it really sucks to want to team up with someone you don't really agree with because you might dislike someone else more. Politics shouldn't be about hurting people you disagree with, and fostering division without offering a better option is sad.
It's also worth pointing out that, of the three groups, only the third is essentially correct about their feelings. A lot of the machinery we have in place has really strong philosophical grounding. We don't need to change standards of evidence, we just need to be more fair in applying the principles we've honed and developed as a free society concerned about liberty.
Also, Black Lives Matter has put out enough substantive policy proposals that, when they denounce the more extreme elements, that makes sense and I notice the difference between normal and extreme Black Lives Matter. That doesn't happen as strongly with the other groups. That's why that ad, as weird as it was, actually needed to contain a line of reasoning (if it could happen to someone as insanely privileged as Kavanaugh, it could happen to anyone). That's startlingly rare in political ads.