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Let It Burn and/or Give Them What They Want

New cement and wood barricades bear the name CHOP, Tuesday, June 16, 2020, inside what has been named the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest zone in Seattle. The city put the barriers in place Tuesday in hopes of defining an area where emergency, delivery, and other vehicles can travel through the area while still preserving space for protesters, who have been there since police pulled back from near the department's East Precinct after recent clashes with people protesting the death of George Floyd. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Retired NFL running back Herschel Walker has an excellent idea for the #DefundThePolice crowd: Give them what they want.

It’s actually difficult to find a country that doesn’t have police. But the more difficult task is to find a country where the police are something better than enforcement goons for the party in power, running their own protection racket on innocent citizens, or both.

And yet, Walker’s whole Give Them What They Want suggestion, even if it was meant in jest, struck a chord with your Friendly Neighborhood VodkaPundit.

Partly that’s because the cynic in me sides with H.L. Mencken when he wrote: “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”

And yet my hopeful side says if we Give Them What They Want that it just… might… work.

Allow me to explain, but to do that I’ll have to set the Wayback Machine to 1980.

There’s an underappreciated little movie from writer/director Marshall Brickman from that year called Simon. Brickman has some serious writing cred, including a year as Johnny Carson’s head writer, and the screenplays for both Sleeper and Annie Hall.

Simon tells the story of what happens when a not-too-bright junior college psychology teacher (Simon, played with neurotic charm by Alan Arkin) gets manipulated by a top-secret think tank into believing that he’s a space alien.

It isn’t a perfect movie by any means, and some of it — such as Simon’s sensory deprivation chamber — is just so very-very 1979 those parts haven’t aged with much grace. But the setup still brings me tears of laughter.

The think tank — the Institute for Advanced Concepts — was populated by some of the funniest character actors working at the time, including Austin Pendleton, Wallace Shawn, William Finley, and Max Wright. The institute had a virtually unlimited budget and zero oversight and had been assigned “save the world” tasks like solving the energy crisis, the food crisis, the population bomb, etc. All very ’70s stuff. Instead, they delved into “more interesting material,” and hatched pranks like the Nixon Substitution Scenario. (“The Nixon who went to China in 1972 was not the one we sent back.”)

Over one brainstorming session, they decided that people believe in UFOs and aliens because they want to believe. “So,” Wright’s character suggested, “we could give them what they want.”

Prof. Simon Mendelssohn seems a likely target, so they pretend to hire him, but after settling in at the Institute they lock him in his deprivation tank until his brain turns to mush. Once out, they reprogram poor Simon with a new, alien past. They even monkey with his blood and tissue in order to fool other scientists that Simon really is an alien.

Why? Mostly just to see what kind of crap they could stir up.

But you know what? It worked. Simon, unleashed on the world, tried to make it a better place — and in a few small ways, his alien example did just that.

Let’s step out of the Wayback Machine and back into 2020.

President Trump has been walking a fine line with the rioters, the sometimes less-than-peaceful protestors, and the looney leftists trying to eliminate the police in Minneapolis and actually seceding from the union in Seattle. On the one hand, the Let It Burn theory will doubtless provide an object lesson in what happens to once-fine cities once the looney left takes charge. On the other, how long can we afford to let so many cities go on under such anarchy?

Fine line or not, until today I had wished Trump were being more decisive. One doesn’t float the idea of sending in regular troops to back up the Guard and local police, and then just let it wither on the vine. And if he’s going to run on a law and order platform in the fall, as he’s indicated, then eventually he’s got to supply some of both. Trump is the incumbent, not a challenger like Nixon in 1968, running against an incumbent Democrat who’d lost control of the streets and let our cities burn.

But that was yesterday. Today I read Walker’s tweet and thought, “Let it burn.”

It was the end of a thought process that started a couple of weeks ago as events spun out of control in Minneapolis and Seattle.

On Tuesday, PJMedia’s own Bryan Preston reported to you the story of two residents citizens of CHOP, a father and son, who tried to call the police and fire departments after hoodlums local CHOP authorities robbed and set fire to their local business.

No local first responders dared to leave Seattle and enter CHOP.

I felt sorry for Josh McDermott and his son until I got to this part of the KIRO 7 News writeup: Josh and Mason McDermott “say they largely agree with the core message of the protests.”

Well, isn’t that special?

If Antifa/BLM/CCP/Whatever wants to run their own mini-city-state ala Mogadishu? I say let them. It isn’t like the so-called #Resistance is meeting much resistance from Seattle residents.

In Minneapolis, the City Council has announced its veto-proof intent to “dismantle” the city’s police department and replace it with a “transformative new model of public safety.”

Ed Morrissey, however, says they can’t do that: “In fact, they have to fund and staff its police department in accordance with its population by the terms of its city charter.”

The Charter is quite specific, mandating “a police force of at least 0.0017 employees per resident, and provide for those employees’ compensation.” The Mayor is opposed, too, so apparently, if we’re being strictly legal, the city council can’t defund the police.

But since when in today’s movement did anyone leading it give a damn about legalities? If the vast majority of the city’s elected leadership wants to eliminate the police department, why should trivialities like the law matter?

Maybe the Minneapolis City Charter is one of those “living documents” with its meaning meant to change with the times.

If Minneapolis wants to replace the police department with a collection of social workers and sharia-enforcement thugs, I say let them.

Give them what they want.

Good and hard, I shouldn’t need to add.

The results should serve as a teachable moment for the rest of the country.

And maybe, just maybe, lefty sympathizers-turned-victims like the McDermotts could be wearing MAGA hats in November.

Simon made the world a better place by strange example, so why not CHOP and the Minneapolis City Council?