Monday, June 1, 2020

The Fabric of Society

As I sat listening to the police scanner (there's a phone app, who knew?) last night, I was musing about my recent series of posts. I am slowly working on using my time in lockdown and YouTube to provide a look at the ways the fabric of American has frayed. I have a ways to go, but let's jump to the present for a moment, because the police in riot gear formed up in the street less than a block from my house last night.

Today's story starts June 18th, 1971. President Nixon gave a press conference. It was a day after his administration had sent a special report to Congress on drug abuse and addiction. We were still involved in Vietnam and the years of the heaviest involvement had just passed. President Nixon's use of words invokes a war mindset in a global fight against illegal drugs and drug use.

And we went to war. The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 set the guidelines for how drugs were scheduled and controlled. The Drug Enforcement Agency was created in 1973. On average, we have spent over $50 billion every year on this effort. We involved the CIA and the military in drug interdiction efforts overseas. We sprayed herbicides over large areas of Central and South America.

You have be 60 or so to remember when policemen looked like this.

I am not blaming the officers for what happened. The various levels of government hire and train the police forces. They arm them, set the policies, and enforce those policies or not. And they militarized them. From uniforms to weapons to mindset.

Mindset. If it's police vs. not-police, then you get the Thin Blue Line. You get "any force is acceptable as long we all go home at the end of the shift". You get a bunker mentality where everyone covers for everyone else. You get to the point where the rights of the citizens you are sworn to serve are no longer a consideration. 

And if it's no longer the police vs. criminals and now it's become the police against everyone else, what does the "everyone else" do? If the consent of the governed is dependent on a just and lawful government, what happens to the fabric of society the agents of that government are not seen as just?

Because when a cop is kneeling on the neck of a subdued and handcuffed suspect and the other cops stand by and let it happen while people are filming and pleading with the cop to move and the last words the man says are "I can't breathe", justice has left the stage.

Forget the race of the involved parties. This is tyranny. If that was my son, or yours, that had died that way, what would our response be? The only way it would have looked worse was if it had been his boot on George Floyd's neck. This is not an isolated incident. Minneapolis police have used that same tactic to the point of people being made unconscious 44 times since 2015.

It is time to demilitarize the police. It is time to do away with no knock warrants. It is time to do away with civil forfeiture. It is time to hold the police to the same standards of human behavior we hold ourselves to. It is time to retrain the police about the citizens they serve. It is time to find a higher calling than fighting a lost war on drugs. If we fail, the last tattered remnants of that fabric are going to burn.

The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I'm saying? We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.
— John Ehrlichman,  Harper's Magazine 1994


Borepatch said...


Old NFO said...

And it's time for Roof Koreans until this rioting, looting, and burning stops. This IS NOT about Floyd, this is pure hostility toward successful people and businesses. Burn and loot your own neighborhood? Go right ahead, then cry when businesses don't come back... Sigh... Protect your property? YOU get arrested and your property left open, then looted and burned.

LindaG said...

You get to the point where the rights of the citizens you are sworn to serve are no longer a consideration.

Kind of like our government.

Will said...

When the embattled homeowners and business people start treating the cops, that want to arrest them for defending themselves, the same as the rioters, is when the police will change. As a group, they have become a threat to everyone but fellow badge toters. This is really stupid on their part.

Glen Filthie said...

“Forget the race of the involved parties. This is tyranny. If that was my son, or yours, that had died that way, what would our response be?”


Why, my response would be to go down to Walmart, chimp out with my homies and loot me a flatscreen TV!!!! And burn it down afterwards! Sorry fellas, but if you send Officer Friendly with his smile and a 38 revolver into a black slum, or up against organized crime... they’ll kill him and the rest of his buddies will quit. Or you’ll get British law enforcement where some overweight chubster lesbian in a cop’s uniform will stand idly by while some failed liberal social experiment beats you to death.

We possibly could demilitarize them but only if we acknowledge and understand race realities because they are important. The average black IQ is 85. Mohammed Ali had an IQ of 79 which is considered mild mental retardation in white people. Sub Saharan blacks have an average IQ of 65~70. Historically, blacks have been slaves, servants... and criminals. Keeping them in line meant that black justice had to be simple, fast...and brutal. Hey - I don’t like any of this either. The vast majority of these tragedies involve blacks and vibrants. The cops treat them that way because if they get lax, they are more likely to get killed for it. Don’t you think that those guys would rather not get involved with these situations? That thin blue line is of your making, not theirs.

There are indications that this is just another leftist morality play and they’re probably right. No, there is no racist white supremacy movement out to kill honest black people like St. Trayvon, or the Gentle Giant, or last week’s jogger “that dindu nuffin”. Nor is Big Brother making a play to put you in chains. They are just edgy, nervous cops trying to protect themselves and making the odd mistake.

As far as drugs go... no, my rights are not violated because some piece of human manure can’t sell crack to the local kids. Until and unless we can agree on the moralities, ethics and realities of this... things are going to get worse.

Steve Parker, M.D. said...

My suggested solution to this mess:
Make individual policemen personally responsible for civil, criminal, and constitutional rights violations. No immunity.

Richard said...

I don't know all the details of what happened there but I do know what the Medical Examiner said, which was that there was no asphyxiation. Probably heart attack with drug involvement. So exactly what are the police supposed to do. Pretty sure the response to the cop being thrown under the bus will be disengagement which leaves us even more on our own. This will not end well.

Antibubba said...

Well, that justifies killing him, Richard! Right?

If someone is in your custody, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE. PERIOD.

And an independent autopsy confirmed asphyxiation.

Richard said...

An independent autopsy commissioned by the family. And all we have is the lawyers statement about that. If there was no asphyxia, they didn't kill him, his medical condition and drug use did. How about we wait for the investigation to conclude before we hang him.

Aesop said...

We went to a Slap Fight On (Some) Drugs, With Collateral Damage.
Not a war.

If you can provide BDA after-action photographs of Arc Light strikes and naval gunnery shell fire from the New Jersey on poppy and cocaine fields, together with the open trenches filled with the corpses of slaughtered drug dealers, I will grant the point.
Otherwise, not even close.

What we've done since then has definitely been half-hearted, half-assed, and half-witted.
But it hasn't been a war for so much as five seconds, any day from that speech in 1971 to this minute.