Playing with Blue Fire

Trust between cops and the people is essential, and we're losing it.

This week's news has been filled with harrowing tales of police brutality and corruption.  For over a year now we've been told nightly that cops are gunning down innocent black men all over America for no reason at all. At the same time, the poor souls in San Bernardino would have loved to have had a few dozen cops show up when they were in dire need of protection.

The truth is even more complicated.  The now-famous Michael Brown was conclusively proven to have been charging the police officer from whom he'd just tried to steal a gun, shortly after cold-cocking an unarmed storekeeper half his size.  If anyone deserved to be gunned down in the street it was Mr. Brown; yet the "Black Lives Matter" thugs chose him, of all people, as their mascot.

The San Bernardino murderers were Muslim, not black.  Our bigoted media started by falsely describing them as "white" until the truth became impossible to hide, and all Americans can wish devoutly that they'd been gunned down as promptly as Mr. Brown.

So the protests continue, and it's foolhardy to dismiss "Black Lives Matter" as simply honor among thieves.  Eric Garner was hardly a stranger to the police, but his record shows little propensity for violence; we can all agree that regardless of how many his various misdemeanors against the taxing authority of New York State might have been, he did not deserve the death penalty.

Now, from Democrat-ruled Chicago, comes a truly appalling tale of cops who erased surveillance video footage of an incident where one of their comrades gunned down a black teenager who, although high on drugs, was armed only with a folding knife that remained folded throughout the entire fusillade.

Laquan McDonald was no saint, but there's no indication that he merited capital punishment.

The police officer involved has been charged with murder; he'll be judged by a jury of his peers, as is right and proper.  The problem is that, while Officer Jason Van Dyke is behind bars, many people are murdered in Chicago just about every day, but mostly not by the police, just as is true in every large American city.

Watching the Watchers?

Many notables have solemnly warned of the inevitable result: fearing that their political leadership no longer has their backs, American cops will be more hesitant to use force, thus letting criminals rampage freely.  The Baltimore riots were both a cause and a result of this "Ferguson effect;" when FBI Director James Comey pointed out this fairly obvious connection, Barack Obama called him to the Oval Office for a presumptive tongue-lashing.

On the other hand, we don't want over-violent cops to be protected by their comrades, their bosses, or anyone else.  When every agency from the Department of Agriculture to the Railroad Retirement Board proudly fields its own military-grade SWAT team, keeping a beady eye fixed on the entire lot is simple prudence.  For all that Muslim outrages are taking place almost weekly these days, we're still at more risk from an over-powerful and incompetent government than from terrorists.

Once upon a time, America's police were almost exclusively local, usually chosen from among the people who lived in a community and were answerable to local officials - think Andy Griffith, who knew everybody in his jurisdiction and they all knew him.  This approach probably did help to reduce unjustified official shootings a bit, but given that all too many blacks were unjustly denied the vote, it didn't help them very much.

It also didn't help free the good people of Chicago from the reign of the Prohibition mobsters, who made sure to own the local police.  Mr. Capone's armed gangsters were famous for having firearms permits signed by the Chief of Police or even the Mayor.  The hard work of shutting down Al Capone and friends had to be done by Eliot Ness and his famous Untouchables.

Why was this group of law officers untouchable when the Chicago cops were all too often crooked?  Because, being Federal agents, they answered to Washington, not Chicago.

The idea was that local thugs would be less able to intimidate police whose families and career centers were a thousand miles away, and the record shows that this worked - sort of.  There probably aren't very many street hoods who can get much traction against Federal agents.

Instead, we have high-level crimes committed by the rich and powerful who are well-connected enough to wangle unjustified pardons like Marc Rich or avoid indictment altogether as Hillary Clinton appears to be doing.

In a way that's an improvement.  None of us need to lie awake in our beds worrying that Mr. Rich or Mrs. Clinton is going to break in one night and bludgeon us to death in our sleep.

Unfortunately, immunity for the rich and powerful has created a more systemic problem: when a nation's elites hold the rabble in contempt and the feeling is returned, a pre-revolutionary situation is created which can explode without warning, particularly when the American way of life is under pressure from all sides as never before.  No wonder more than half of Americans admit they don't even recognize their own country anymore!

The Black Lives Matter groups openly proclaim their desire for revolution.  If they'd trouble to do the math, though, they might reconsider: black Americans are only around 12% of the population and shrinking and it's far from clear that the other minorities would side with them if push came to shove.

As what once was mostly an American melting pot fragments into mutually distrustful and increasingly heavily armed camps, in many ways it's the police who keep us from each other's throats.  Nowhere is there more urgent need for a strong, determined, and honest police force than in the black ghettos of Chicago, Detroit, and Baltimore where dozens die on a weekend with nary a peep.

It is wicked and wrong for a racist cop to murder an unarmed person who presents no threat.  By drumming up the fires of racial resentment, though, President Obama and his fellow race-baiters are playing a profoundly dangerous game.

For if the police decide that it's no longer worthwhile risking their lives to protect the innocent, Americans may discover that your only sure defense is self-defense.  Once we realize that truth - well, what do we need an all-powerful government for ever again?

This is a risky path for everyone.  The risk for Republicans, and really for all Americans, is that we're too far gone - that there aren't enough real Americans left who value their liberty and are willing to defend themselves.

But there's an even bigger risk for Democrats that they don't realize.  That is that Americans will discover that standing up for yourself actually works and wonder why we need an expensive, all-powerful, generally incompetent government when it can't even do what you can easily do for yourself.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Law.
Reader Comments

Wow. Great column Petrarch! You nailed it.

December 4, 2015 10:16 AM

What else can the Democrats do? Their policies have trashed the blacks. They won't vote for Hillary unless they are told the whites are out to get them.

The violence is all in cities which Democrats rule. How can they be so stupid not to see Democrats are bad for them?

December 4, 2015 2:06 PM
Add Your Comment...
4000 characters remaining
Loading question...