Relief for Baltimore

I breathed a sigh of relief when Baltimore’s chief prosecutor decided to indict the six police officers for the death of Freddie Gray. At last, the turmoil in that city will subside, and decisions on the  incident will shift to a court of law, the way they should.

While many in the crowd of protestors have conflated an indictment with a conviction, I think the more knowledgeable leaders understand the distinction and will soften their rhetoric accordingly. After all the exonerations of police officers over the past few months, at least one will receive the scrutiny deserved.

African-Americans are rightly grieved about what they consider an unfair system biased against them, and the frustration of so many “Freddie Grays” in the past was the reason for the lid coming off, and the violent reactions in Monday night’s demonstrations. The prosecutor, however, methodically laid out the case against the officers, and they will all receive their day in court whether that be in Baltimore or another location.

African-Americans are rightly grieved about what they consider an unfair system biased against them

Who’s to say what would have happened with a different result? Thank God we will never know the answer to that question. At least, a modicum of justice has occurred, and things are on the right track. Baltimore will not explode in fire, and our judicial system will handle things from here on in.

The Lack of Intellectual Integrity

But in this rapidly changing world, with volatile issues arising out of nowhere, a new President will be forced to address matters we can’t even imagine right now.

Paul Krugman writes in today’s New York Times about the need to focus on issues instead of character traits except for one: intellectual integrity. By that, he means the ability to look at a situation, admit when you’re wrong and change course.

One person almost immediately comes to mind: President George W. Bush. To this day, he refuses to admit the Iraq War was a mistake; more ruinous for the country, however, was his inability to do so during the course of the conflict. Bush was infamous for his ability to reach a decision, and then stick to it come hell or high water. Even after an election drubbing, he doubled down on the battle; thus was born the surge.

Bush was fortunate this worked out, but the result wasn’t based on well thought out reason and analysis. It was a gut decision based almost completely on emotion.

Krugman points out how ideology can interfere with intellectual integrity; if we hold a particular worldview, it can be very difficult to change our viewpoint. But in this rapidly changing world, with volatile issues arising out of nowhere, a new President will be forced to address matters we can’t even imagine right now. The ability to try out various courses of actions, evaluate them, and, if necessary, change course represents a valuable skill that voters should assess and evaluate.

Of course, sometimes a change of course will be branded as a “flip flop” by political opponents. However, the ability to say “I was wrong” could be essential for the protection and prosperity of the United States in the mid-to-late 21st century.