Leftists Get Seattle-Area City To Ditch Police Chief for Being White | Opinion

Let us begin with a jarring dose of reality.

A waterfront city just 20 minutes north of Seattle ditched its initially preferred choice for police chief simply because he is white. Instead, the city hired a less qualified person, who happens to be non-white, to take on the position.

Normally, I would join you in dismissing the preceding sentences as shamefully bigoted commentary based upon flawed assumptions. But in this case, it's not just tendentious commentary.

Officials in Edmonds, Washington aren't even bothering to hide their motives; they're embracing condescending tokenism and framing their hiring decision on race, rather than qualifications. It reflects the odious nature of progressivism, wherein privileged white liberals declaring their "anti-racism" are the very ones conscientiously acting according to race.

Back in April, Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson announced via press release that 25-year police veteran Jim Lawless would become chief. With a quarter-century of experience, Lawless holds a master's degree and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy. At the time, Nelson said of Lawless, "I can't imagine a person better suited for this job."

But then political winds changed—and so did the mayor's mind.

Earlier this December, the mayor announced he would now appoint Sherman Pruitt to the position. Pruitt is the current police chief of a small Indian reservation of just 400 people near the small town of Darrington, Washington.

"I was really disappointed and I have a lot of questions," retired Edmonds police chief Al Compaan told a local TV station. "What changed, all of a sudden?"

What changed was a new commitment to "anti-racism."

After the death of George Floyd, the Edmonds community took to the streets to demand change. When some residents pushed back at the political positions of Black Lives Matter (BLM), Nelson and members of the all-white city council responded in kind.

Edmonds City Council President Adrienne Fraley-Monillas participated in a BLM protest imploring anyone who stood in opposition to the activist group's messages to better educate themselves. Nelson promised to continue "the work to create an anti-racist climate here in Edmonds." Even Lawless reacted, ludicrously pursuing the vandalism as a felony hate crime (the local prosecutor rejected the case).

Five months later, amid increasingly urgent statements signaling Nelson's support for BLM, it seems that the optics of hiring a white police chief was too much for Nelson and the council. Pruitt was confirmed in a four to three vote.

Supportive of the switch, Fraley-Monillas implied that it was Pruitt's race that made him qualified to hold the position.

"In this time frame in Edmonds, I think we could use Chief Pruitt," she told KING 5. "With all the racism in Edmonds, we have somebody who has had that experience in their life. I think that's important."

Nelson, who declined interviews on the topic, released a statement on Facebook defending his choice. You don't have to read between the lines for subtext.

Seattle skyline in 2015
Seattle skyline in 2015 George Rose/Getty Images

Nelson cited "social justice, and equity and accountability to the community" as the impetus for the selection. He praised Pruitt's work on "police accountability, transparency and recruiting of well-qualified, diverse candidates." It read like it was crafted by the very BLM activists Nelson has been seeking to impress.

To be clear, Pruitt is qualified to be a police chief in a city the size of Edmonds. But on paper, any reasonable person would conclude that he is less qualified than Lawless.

Consider how local politicians framed this hire. They seem to be turning Pruitt into a human prop to signal their own virtue—that they're sending a message about their stance against racism by hiring a black police chief.

It's unfair to Pruitt to be treated like this. It's not just racist and demeaning. As someone who's personally been tokenized, I find the behavior outright insufferable.

I'm gay and Jewish. I can't begin to tell you how annoyed I get when people transparently seek my approval simply because it makes them feel progressive to have a gay friend. The same mindset extends to hiring decisions—that your value to them isn't your character or skillset, but the social currency you bring to their lives or political careers. (In fairness, outing myself as a conservative usually sends them running; they're only tolerant of minorities as long as you ideologically identify with them.)

On the national stage, the issue is playing out with Joe Biden. He's awkwardly celebrating the identities of his diverse Cabinet selections, rather than highlighting their unique skills. In California, this manifested itself in a law that affirmatively mandates corporate diversity.

More broadly, privileged white liberals often exploit social justice movements as a means to declare themselves heroes for being "enlightened." Some of it is borne out of guilt, but much of it is based in narcissism.

These progressives involve themselves in such social justice causes to boast about their "enlightenment" on social media—not to actually help communities they claim to support. You may not ask, but they'll nonetheless tell you all the things they've done to fight bigotry, like buy White Fragility for their racist uncle or exclusively order takeout from black-owned restaurants on UberEats.

Yet, the very same folks were silent when Jews were systematically beaten up in New York. And of course, they say nothing around the treatment of the Uyghur Muslim minority in Xinjiang, China. Progressives don't consider Jews minorities and Uyghur is too hard to pronounce, so I guess they're not worth defending.

If there's not a national movement to attach themselves to, and a group they're looking to befriend for gain, white progressives stay silent. I wish they'd stay silent.

Phony allyship means these progressives partner with fringe activists and use that partnership as cover to pursue far-left legislation like defunding the police. In Edmonds, it means pushing out a more qualified candidate for a job.

Jason Rantz is a frequent guest on Fox News and is the host of the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH Seattle, heard weekday afternoons. You can subscribe to his podcast here and follow him on Twitter: @jasonrantz.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.