The Ghost of Tina Kerbrat

September 08, 2016

Multiple Pages
The Ghost of Tina Kerbrat

“Trying to organize right-wingers is like herding cats!” During the years I ran the Republican Party Animals organization, I can’t even tally the number of times I was told that. Conservatives, from soft right to hard, like to use that line because, by comparing themselves to cats, they appear independent-minded and individualistic. The “herding cats” claim makes Republican failures honorable. “Of course it’s hard to get us to come together, to act as one in the pursuit of a cause. We’re all such rugged individuals!”

The thing is, though, as a lifelong cat owner, cat fancier, and all-around feline aficionado, I can tell you that herding cats is actually quite easy. Just turn on a vacuum cleaner and they will blindly charge in unison for the nearest open door. Cats herded, problem solved.

One could make the argument that both pro-Trump and anti-Trump Republicans have been “herded” in this manner. The NeverTrumpers—the Ben Shapiros, the Glenn Becks, the National Review nitwits—got a whiff of “anti-Semitism,” a term that, even when spoken at a whisper, carries the thunderous impact of 6 million vacuum cleaners being turned on at once, and headed for the doors like frightened pussies (I mean cats, of course). On the other side, the AlwaysTrumpers, hearing the distant sound of trains full of Mexicans being shipped across the border, charged full steam ahead in support of a vulgar, flip-flopping, untested candidate with more red flags than May Day in North Korea.

In both cases, those on the right did what they do best—charge gracelessly ahead with the self-righteous certainty of people who believe that being measured, that taking things in degrees, is the way of the coward, the wimp, the “RINO.”

Leftists don’t think that way; that’s why they so regularly outclass us on issues the right should own. Leftist intellectuals (and by that, I don’t mean the Black Lives Matter anencephalics) tend to see politics as more like a chess game. You don’t win all in one move. It takes time, and the ability to visualize the board as it will look several moves ahead. Social engineering of the type the left desires is accomplished by a very simple formula. Advance one step, and then promise that this step will not in any way lead to the next step. Wait a brief amount of time, and then advance to the next step, explaining that it’s only logical now that the previous step has become so widely accepted. Simple rule: Swear there’ll be no progression, and then progress.

“Don’t ask don’t tell” was passed with the promise that the next step, the removal of all restrictions on gay service members, would never happen. Civil unions were championed as a fine compromise to stave off the unpopular notion of gay marriage. Affirmative action was promoted simply as a method of righting past wrongs against blacks, with no suggestion that it would end up being extended to everyone who isn’t a straight white or Asian male. And remember when future Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg swore that the leftist push for “sex equality” would never lead to the government demanding that men be allowed to use women’s bathrooms and locker rooms?

“Steps, stages, and patience. The left gets it; the right still struggles with the concept.”

“We don’t want single-payer, you paranoid silly-billy! We want free-market solutions. That’s why we need to pass Obamacare.” Pause a few years. “Now that Obamacare has been accepted by the public and upheld by the Supreme Court, let’s admit that is has a few flaws, and—by golly—you know what would be an excellent fix? Single-payer!”

Steps, stages, and patience. The left gets it; the right still struggles with the concept. In fact, the right doesn’t even comprehend how it’s being outplayed. The very fact that so many on the right still rant about a coming “mass gun grab” starkly displays how little the right actually understands the left’s modus operandi. European-style gun control will never come all at once in a cataclysmic “disarmageddon.” It’ll be accomplished in steps and stages, and with patience.

When leftists come at me with their anti-death-penalty arguments, the most common one I hear is “Oh, trust me, life in prison is a way worse punishment than quick death! If you really hate those bad ol’ criminals, let ’em have life!” But, of course, that’s bunk. As we see from Western Europe, and as we hear when U.S. prison “reformers” speak among themselves, the left hates the concept of life in prison just as much as it does the death penalty. The death penalty would be abolished with the promise that now we’ll really punish those bad guys with a worse fate. Then life in prison will be abolished because it’s a worse fate. And eventually, we’ll become like Norway, where a vile, unrepentant monster like Anders Breivik cannot legally receive more than 21 years for the cold-blooded murder of 77 human beings. In all honesty, my main reason for being pro–death penalty is that as long as we have it, the left has to give lip service to supporting life sentences.

After watching Trump’s “landmark immigration speech” last week, I found myself reflecting on how the left “okey-doked” us on the issue of criminal aliens. Wherever one may stand on walls, mass deportations, or “dreamers,” generally, most levelheaded folks are in favor of deporting illegals who commit crimes while in the U.S. I mean, that issue really should be an easy win for the GOP. Yet again and again we hear of serious crimes being committed by aliens who have been “caught and released” for previous offenses, or who still walk around free, even after a deportation order. Why?

To answer that question, it might be helpful to go back 25 years. The Tina Kerbrat case is an excellent illustration of how the left took an incident that should have served the goals of the right, and turned it around to their own benefit.

Tina Kerbrat was the first female LAPD officer killed in the line of duty. Around midnight on Feb. 11, 1991, Kerbrat—only four months out of the academy—and her partner rolled up in front of two men who appeared to be drinking in public. Kerbrat was shot in the face by one of the men before she could even exit her vehicle. Her partner returned fire and killed the gunman, 32-year-old El Salvadoran illegal immigrant Jose Amaya. Kerbrat, who died instantly from her wound, had celebrated her 45th birthday just two days earlier.

Amaya wasn’t supposed to be here. He had a previous arrest, but the INS had been forced to release him as Congress had recently enacted new rules regarding Salvadoran illegals, rules that essentially made them a protected class—allowed to stay if caught, and allowed endless hearings if deportation is ordered. Amaya had indeed been ordered deported, but his attorneys worked the system well, requesting delay after delay after delay in the name of the “El Salvador exception.”

The Kerbrat killing presented leftists with a dilemma. At the time, feminists were in hyperdrive on the issue of “diversity hiring” in law enforcement. It was to their benefit to spread the word about a sympathetic, courageous female officer killed on the job. But the killer was an illegal brownie, and Kerbrat was the second LAPD officer in four months to be murdered by an illegal marked for deportation by the INS. There was a genuine chance that the Kerbrat killing might lead to public demand for tighter laws regarding deportations. No es bueno! Something had to be done, but what? The story couldn’t be covered up…but it could be spun!

And spun it was. The media, as if with one voice, declared that of course criminal aliens should be deported. Most definitely! But we still need to make exceptions for Salvadorans, those doe-eyed refugees from war and oppression and violence and yada yada. An exception needed to be made, but only for them. Hanky in hand (covering crossed fingers), the L.A. Times explained,

Under existing law and recent court decisions, Amaya was not subject to immediate deportation like other illegal aliens, but was entitled, as a Salvadoran, to a full-scale hearing and had requested one. Sadly, that made it possible for him to remain in this country to commit a brutal act. But those safeguards are there for a good reason—to protect the rights of hundreds of thousands of Central Americans who are in this country as refugees. The overwhelming majority are law-abiding residents who must surely share the grief that this community feels at the loss of a public servant like Kerbrat.

Editorials and op-eds from leftist politicians and activists promised that this “necessary” exception for Salvadorans would never be extended to other nationalities. Worry not—you’ll never see illegals from other countries allowed to stay after being ordered deported. The public can rest assured that there’ll never be a case of an American citizen being shot in the face by a Mexican illegal immigrant with a rap sheet who was ordered deported but allowed to stay indefinitely. Nope, that’ll never happen (except when it did).

Public anger over the Kerbrat murder was quelled by the promise that the policies that led to Amaya being allowed to walk around free after a deportation order would never be expanded. Which, of course, they eventually were. Remember the rule: Promise you’ll go no further, and then go further.

Along with spinning, the left also employed deflection, courtesy of a bigmouthed Republican prone to indelicate remarks. Then–L.A. police chief Daryl Gates, a man whose name was not exactly synonymous with “milquetoast,” called Amaya “an asshole” and “an El Salvadoran drunk—a drunk who doesn’t belong here,” adding that the case was “another failure of our immigration service, [which] doesn’t pay much attention to those who are here, who ought not to be here.” Here was the distraction the left needed! With lightning speed, Gates’ “racist” remarks became the lead story in every major paper, as “civil rights” and pro-immigration groups lined up alongside every Democrat politician in California to denounce them.

To be fair, Gates’ description of Amaya was arguably the least offensive thing the guy ever said (compared with his claim that blacks are genetically prone to dying in choke holds, and his declaration that casual drug users “ought to be taken out and shot”). And Gates certainly stood firm. When Melanie Lomax, the black “community leader” and L.A. police commissioner, claimed it was “racist” and “inflammatory” to bring up Amaya’s status and nationality, Gates responded, quite correctly, “He was drunk and he was Salvadoran. I have no regrets for having made that statement.”

Gates was, of course, correct. But it didn’t matter. His words knocked the controversy over the failure to deport Amaya right off the front pages, and it put Republicans, who in theory could have scored some decent victories off the back of the Kerbrat case, on the defensive. The left played this one exceptionally well. Promise that step 1 will never lead to the dreaded step 2, and use the indelicate words of a GOP blowhard to make the issue about race, not safety. Then just wait for the public to become comfortable enough with step 1 to allow you to proceed to the step you swore was not going to be your next move.

This game plan works in part because the left can always count on the fact that, in any major public controversy, some GOP of note will either say something stupid, or say a reasonable thing stupidly. Because “real” Republicans are all about being balls-out fearless warriors whose bravery is measured by the loudness of their battle cry as opposed to, you know, actual victories. While meanwhile, the left is busy winning victories the slow and steady way.

Following Officer Kerbrat’s tragic and preventable death, things got much, much worse in California regarding deportation stays and lax enforcement. And Chief Daryl Gates, a man who many on the right defended because he was so edgy and in-your-face, so unapologetic and uncensored, so unafraid of consequences, ended up leaving office in disgrace, blamed by many (predominantly white and Asian) Angelenos for having, due to incompetence or worse, allowed the Rodney King riot to become the catastrophe it did, by ordering police to pull out of the initial trouble spot, and by leaving his command post at the riot’s start to attend a Brentwood fund-raiser.

One could argue that it’s risky to support a political figure primarily because he “says what’s on his mind, damn the consequences.” After all, someone who lacks discernment and impulse control when it comes to words might also end up exhibiting poor judgment in other, more significant areas. Daryl Gates was a Republican who spoke a fair amount of common sense on the issue of immigration enforcement, but he ended up harming his own cause because he couldn’t stop himself from saying wild and indelicate things that continually overshadowed his message.

Not that this has any significance in September 2016. None at all.

Next week, I’ll try to write about something more relevant to the moment.

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