Beyoncé emerges as the winner

On Tuesday, Beyoncé’s Super Bowl halftime performance will be the target of a protest in front of the NFL’s Manhattan headquarters because the video for her new single focuses on the often-abominable police response in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and the danger unarmed black men can face from cops. Beyoncé’s critics also say her Super Bowl costume and that of her backup dancers evoked the Black Panthers.

As it happens, her single, “Formation,” is a raunchy, sexy pro-black power screed that includes no mention of police or violence. Had the police and their supporters not gotten so vocally angry, far fewer of those who saw the Super Bowl show would have known about any anti-police message in the video. So, are the pro-cop protesters’ real goals to publicize an “attack” on police just so they can oppose it?

It’s entirely possible to respect and appreciate the job the vast majority of police officers do to protect us, and still worry that too many unarmed black men are killed by cops. In fact, holding both views at the same time is more than just an option, it’s a civic responsibility.

But the uproar about her appearance has some saying the superstar shouldn’t expect protection from police and then turn around and criticize officers for deadly errors. But as an artist and a citizen, Beyoncé does have a right to expect safety, and a right to demand accountability when public servants make tragic missteps.

So it’s a shame she didn’t challenge the sometime-violent shortfalls of policing in this country in her Super Bowl show, because angry pro-police detractors are accusing her of it anyway.

The real winner, no matter what, will be Beyoncé, whose video views and song sales are skyrocketing thanks, in part, to groups that claim to be enraged at her.

Pro-Beyoncé protesters will also reportedly be on the scene Tuesday. Hopefully, cops will make sure all is peaceful. We have a right to expect protection from police officers. And we have a right to criticize them when they fail to provide it.