Ed Driscoll

'Ferguson Is Not Binary'

“The world is not a binary place. People and events can sometimes be simple and can sometimes be complicated. Simple events can have tangentially related complicated issues involved and complicated events can have tangentially related simple issues involves,” Erick Erickson writes at Red State:

Conservatives are a law and order bunch. It is, in fact, the natural order to gather into societies and cede our individual rights of protection to a governmental body that wields the sword on our behalf. But that sword can be turned on us. As we become a society where more and more legislation and regulation causes more and more well meaning people to accidentally run afoul of laws and rules, we should be more concerned with militarizing our police and extending the jurisdictions of law enforcement agencies.

Police do a good and necessary job. But if power corrupts men and absolute power corrupts absolutely, we should be wary of putting our neighborhood man in blue in camouflage, a helmet, and an AR-15 inside an armored personnel carrier except in the most serious of circumstances.

No conservative is saying police do not need to be able to outshoot and out arm the bad guys. But many of us are saying police are more quickly than ever before resorting to playing soldier when they could accomplish the same as just a policeman.

One can view the events of Ferguson, MO and decide it was a good call to, before rioting even began, suit up the police as soldiers. But the world is not binary. Regardless of how one views the events of Ferguson, we should all be troubled by the over-militarization of routine police activity. We should all be troubled at the growing number of well documented cases of heavy handed local and state police. Being a conservative means we should support the judicious use of force. It also means that, unlike liberals who routinely turn a blind eye to the abuses of the state targeted toward their opponents, we should not simply presume the ends justify the means.

Of course, it’s important to consider what “the ends” should be, as Kevin D. Williamson noted at NRO last week:

People in places such as Ferguson, Mo., often talk about the police as though they were an occupying force, and there is, in Ferguson and in many other places, a strong racial component. During my time in Philadelphia, the city had a black mayor, a black police commissioner, and a heavily black police force, and the city’s worst crime was concentrated in two black neighborhoods. Police innovations such as sending extra patrols to schools at dismissal time were criticized by community leaders who complained that the police were “targeting” black neighborhoods. Which, of course, they were: That’s where the crime was. The police were of course in an impossible position: On the one hand, they were regarded as unwelcome intruders; on the other, they could not simply abandon those neighborhoods.

But they might seem a little bit less like an occupying force if they didn’t dress like one. If they weren’t armed like one. If they didn’t roll through like one. If they weren’t being told, and telling themselves, that they are “at war.”

And though I recognize that the police have a difficult task, they might also get a little more support from communities such as Ferguson if they were doing their job. [pioneering 19th century British law enforcement expert Sir. Robert Peel] again: “Recognize always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them.”

That sound like Ferguson, Mo., to you? Or Chicago? Or Detroit? Or Los Angeles?

Related: J. Christian Adams on “‘Dehumanized’ HuffPost Reporter Ryan Reilly’s Struggle With Facts.”

And from Jim Treacher, “Mother Of The Year: Pregnant Ferguson Protestor Needs Help With Gas Mask.” (Auto-play CNN video at link.)

Love that retro tie-dyed T-shirt she’s wearing with her gas mask. Recreate ’68!