Or, more expansively: America Must Reject The Efforts Of Extremists On Both Sides Of The Law Enforcement Debate To Sabotage Any Opportunity For Reconciliation or Resolution.
It’s no secret that, here at RedState, we tend to find political moderation to be drastically overrated as a virtue. It’s rare that a debate happens along when both sides are making valid points in good faith and often there’s not a lot of point in pretending that the real answer lies in a bad middle of the road solution that pleases no one.
Sometimes, however, those issues do happen along and the current debate over the application by law enforcement is one of those times. I think the evidence shows that minority communities in particular have a reason to perceive their experience at the hands of police differently than those of their white counterparts. I think there’s a lot of truth to the accusation that some of the more extremist folks in the movement that is trying to point this out are unjustifiably vilifying all cops and causing a rise in anti-police violence.
And I hope all of us are troubled by the sight of police in APCs and full tactical gear marching in lockstep down the streets of Baton Rouge.
Ironically, I think the tragic events in Dallas last week provided a great opportunity for some real conversations to begin. Some conservatives, long defenders of police at any costs, began to see how the law enforcement community is perceived by black americans with some empathy. And some of the folks who have been involved in the BLM movement took a step back in horror when five innocent police officers were gunned down on live TV.
Here’s the thing about police/community relations: the city of Dallas has been the proving ground for the idea that the choice between a police department that respects its citizens and is conscious about excessive force and a police department that protects its citizens is not a binary one. There are methods that can be employed by large city police departments that result in fewer excessive force complaints, fewer officer-involved-shootings, fewer violent crimes, and fewer officer assaults.
There are policies, procedures, and training programs that are proven to work. Dallas has been using them to great success. There is absolutely no reason for police to resort instantly to firearms or tasers in panic at the slightest sign that anything is going wrong. Contrary to his fervent belief (which he is surely peddling for political reasons), Rudy Giuliani’s approach to controlling crime isn’t the only one that works.
Nonetheless, as with all things in politics, the extremists on both sides have a vested interest in destroying the middle, which is sick of the ongoing struggle and wants to work toward a solution. If this problem went away tomorrow, what on earth would Deray McKesson even do for a living? How would Rudy Giuliani and Sheriff Clarke sell books and book speaking engagements? They wouldn’t, is how.
So you have idiot bomb throwers on each side whose express goal is to foster and deepen resentment between the two sides, and once again resolidify the trenches dug in our hearts, either through deliberately provocative rhetoric or through the despicable ongoing series of attacks on police officers that have continued throughout the weekend.
For those of us in the middle, the challenge is to not retreat to our own comfortable sides and commence to tossing ordinance over the big ditch between ourselves and the other side. It doesn’t have to be this way and it shouldn’t. The statistics don’t lie – too many people are killed by law enforcement in the United States – more, per capita, by far than other Western countries. For instance, England has 1/6th of the population of the United States. In a bad year in England, law enforcement kills 3 people. Every year in America, about 1,000 people are killed by law enforcement officers.
We don’t have to accept that this is okay, and we shouldn’t. Nor should we accept the increasing numbers of law enforcement officers killed by civilians. Nor should we ignore that the two problems are interrelated and are both at least partially interrelated, that the police officer should by his training be able to exert proper control over the entire interaction to generally prevent the escalation of force.
But all the while, forces on either side will be telling us either that cops should just resort to more force, more quickly, because after all, the blacks have it coming – or on the other hand, that the right way for black people to address their grievances with the police is to resort to killings or cowardly assassinations. If we want this problem to get better, we must ignore both.