The Relationship Between Police and Conservatives Has Been Severely Wounded

AP Photo/Chris Carlson

 

Sometimes, it’s better to be late to a party than to never show up. That’s how I feel about those on the right finally waking up to the continued malfeasance by law enforcement. For some like myself, it was the Eric Garner killing that started to make me question things. For others, perhaps it was seeing how the FBI behaved during the Russia investigation.

But for many on the right, their awakening has been the last few months of the Wuhan virus pandemic. Over this time, we’ve seen law enforcement perpetuating unconstitutional, draconian orders throughout the country. A lot of men and women who we were always told would do the right thing when the time came, even if it was difficult, haven’t been doing the right thing.

Here are just a few of the most recent happenings, and while some of these stories are about the charges filed after arrest, the police were intimately involved in allowing these to happen.

Texas Salon Owner Gets Sentenced to Seven Days in Jail for Daring to Keep Her Shop Open Against Gov’t Pandemic Orders

Crippled in California: A Los Angeles Store Owner Claims She Spent $20,000 in Legal Fees Just to Stay Open

Watch: North Carolina Police Arrest Man for Attempting to Reopen His Business, Others May Follow Suit

My colleague streiff wrote an insightful piece that chronicled some of the examples of the police overstepping their bounds (see If You Are Still Wondering How Death Camps Happen, Just Take a Look Around You).

This was perhaps one of the worst instances. The way the police treated this woman was just disgraceful.

We’ve seen individual rights violated throughout this crisis, including arrests made on people just trying to feed their families. We’ve seen the literal suspension of the First Amendment and people told they can’t even travel between their own properties. None of this is acceptable and the time for excuses is over.

Saying “I’m just doing my job” is not a free pass for law enforcement following clearly unconstitutional orders. It’s not an excuse to arrest mothers on empty playgrounds or storm businesses that are trying to avoid bankruptcy. For too long, many police officers who’ve knowingly done something wrong have been allowed to use the “it’s a tough job” cliche as cover. More critical thinking is required than that.

While a more knee jerk benefit of the doubt may have existed prior, that’s quickly going away. I’m seeing more and more conservatives decry the current behavior while realizing that the people they once put their trust in have broken it. In the not so distant past, no group took a more defensive posture regarding criticism of law enforcement than conservatives. It was common in arguments about gun control, for example, to assert that the police would never carry out an order to confiscate weapons in violation the Constitution. Does anyone doubt that would happen with many departments at this point?

But the pandemic has really pushed matters past individual, isolated cases that could always be hand waved away as mistakes. We’ve now seen what it looks like when law enforcement chooses to follow orders mimicking dystopian fantasy on a wide-scale basis, with people being ordered to not leave their houses and having their rights “suspended.” Far too many departments across the country have chosen to carry these orders out without question.

Just this week, a Tattoo parlor was stormed in Texas, complete with MRAP and long rifles. Here’s an actual picture from the raid. Make of it what you will.

https://twitter.com/Jwrong/status/1257851601013870592

It didn’t have to be this way. These police departments and sheriff’s departments were well within their rights to mitigate the damage from these orders. Even if one wants to believe some of these state orders were constitutional, there was never any reason to run people out of empty parks or arrest someone for paddleboarding in the ocean. There was certainly no basis to arrest and jail a woman for cutting hair so she could pay her bills. The chance to use common sense was there while still enforcing social distancing at a logical level. That chance was ignored by too many.

Conservatives have trusted law enforcement to be above the fray and to stand up to tyranny if it ever reared its head. Instead, many have failed that test, choosing to just “do their job” instead of what is clearly right. That’s unfortunate for law enforcement because they had no stronger ally than conservatives. Yes, some departments have bucked these orders (Houston PD deserves credit), but those examples have been far too few to overcome the general negativity now percolating.

When all this is over, that relationship between police and the right will show itself to be severely wounded, and to be honest, that probably should have happened years ago. Conservatism has never been about blind trust in authority, and it’s never been about turning a blind eye to abuse. Maybe we all needed a reminder of that.