Yes. We have a policing problem in this country. But contrary to the anarcho-fascists running wild in our streets (and the halls of academia, and lots of city halls…but I digress), it isn’t a race problem. It is a government problem.
Our governments, in our names but without our explicit approval, have given law enforcement in this country far too much power over us. From confiscatory civil forfeiture laws to ridiculous speeding fines to $85 parking tickets to byzantine laws of every flavor; if the cops want to charge you with something that will cost you money and often your freedom, and sometimes your life, they can. Because that parking ticket can easily turn into hundreds of dollars, and then a failure-to-appear means a warrant, and a warrant may result in an arrest with guns drawn.
And with that ever-growing power has come ever-growing firepower, in the form of military hardware that should never be on American streets operated by civilian law enforcement. Heavy weapons, armored vehicles and the tactics with which to use them belong on the battlefield, not Main Street. As the police became ersatz soldiers, they began to see us as the enemy, not as their fellow Americans. They left their walking beats and climbed into patrol cars, which further insulated them from the concept that they were supposed to be policing their neighbors, and should treat them as they would wish to be treated.
Combine this with the heavy-handed behavior of our national police forces (the ATF and the FBI), and we have a perfect storm that has alienated some of law-enforcement’s most ardent supporters…conservatives!
I wrote this recently to a friend:
I think that much of the frustration has to do with the natural tendency of most conservatives to follow the rules. I obey the law (speeding accepted), and am reflexively polite in all public interactions. So when I encounter the police, my expectation is that my default behavior will be mirrored, and it rarely is. I am a free man, and when some cop who is just thrilled with his own power of life and death over me…because I was driving in excess of the posted speed limit…struts around and tries to intimidate and fool and bully me, I bristle. It happens too often for it to be ascribed to “he was having a bad day.” The cops who block traffic while getting a cup of coffee, or speed around like maniacs when there is no rush, or roust idiotic teenagers, and a thousand other examples of petty exercise of the state’s coercive power; they are the tip of the spear of government, and they, like the rest of government, are out of control.
With growth of government comes growth of its policing power. It’s as simple as that. And given the opportunity to use that power, how many of our government officials and politicians would decline? What is so maddening is that the coercive force of government is being applied more and more on those of us who pay for it, and less and less on those who, in a rational society, require that coercive force to be applied upon them!
And seemingly like clockwork, whenever there is a critical mass of events that pushes the majority to question the way law enforcement is structured and trained and used, along comes a lunatic response from the hard Left that pushes many of us firmly back into law enforcement’s corner.
Imagine a measured and rational response to recent events…we would be having one of those “national conversations” about policing in America, but people like me would be on the side of those who think it is too much…of everything. But now and for the foreseeable future I will land on the side of the cops.
It’s as if they are channeling the Palestinians, about whom Abba Eban famously said, “They never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”