After a period of waiting for the facts about the Dallas police executions and waiting for my own anger and sadness to calm a bit, I have a few thoughts on “where do we go from here?”
America is living in a toxic stew of racial division, fear, weapons, and individualism. The individualist has no trust in institutions and therefore must take what he believes to be justice into his own hands.
In this environment, those who fear blacks rising up against whites are stockpiling guns and ammunition. Those who fear white institutional prejudice feel they need to level the playing field. Those who fear lawlessness seek to impose order in their own way.
This applies to police as well as civilians. Police are sworn and paid to enforce the law and protect citizens from harm. But they also need to protect themselves, which is a basic human reaction. When police feel that their job is akin to war, the only ones they can trust are fellow officers, or people like themselves.
The easy answer is more law and order. That means ratcheting up the police state on everyone, setting “no weapons” zones everywhere, and adding checkpoints where body-armored paramilitary police ask “papers, please?” so the average person can be about their business. It seems a small thing to give up in convenience to gain a feeling of safety and security.
Then people like Mark Hughes would not be able to walk the streets carrying a long gun in Texas, something that is now completely legal and his right to do. But it might as well not be his right to do it, if by exercising that right, his face is plastered all over the national media as a terrorist. All because he’s a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time, with a rifle.
It seems a small price for the Mark Hugheses of the world to be constrained from walking the streets with a rifle. Or you or me going into a restaurant with a sidearm or a concealed handgun. It seems a small price to pay so that Philando Castile wouldn’t be shot by white police officers scared that a black man who told them he’s armed might shoot them first.
It seems a small price to ensure that Micah Xavier Johnson, the 25-year-old who acted on his desire to “kill white people, especially white officers” be deprived of the opportunity to do so.
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) July 8, 2016
President Obama would gladly make the trade: Law and order for liberty. A small price to pay to remove the fear of racial justice gone rogue.
In Obama’s worldview, along with many liberals, American liberty isn’t a right, with law and order a responsibility ceded to the state by free citizens. They take the opposite view, that liberty is a privilege granted by the state. And the state holds law and order as the highest principle.
For eight years, America has been fed a steady diet of social justice, subservience of the individual to society’s goals, and the duty of the citizen to conform. With the events in Dallas, Obama will now insist that we be made to conform to a world where liberty is traded for a feeling of safety.
In 1861, President Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus, and held political prisoners in defiance of the Supreme Court. In 1942, President Roosevelt held Japanese Americans in internment camps as political prisoners. Now, with enemies seeking to destroy the American way of life from outside, homegrown terrorists for the cause of radical Islam, and those attempting to start a race war from the inside, the impulse for law and order is strong.
The easy answer is for President Obama, the Department of Justice, and local police to simply ban certain kinds of weapons simply to make people feel safer. We’ve already seen retailers like Academy Sports remove these from shelves. In states like Georgia, where the law allows licensed individuals to carry concealed weapons in public places like airports, the TSA and FBI have unilaterally decided to prosecute those who exercise this liberty.
Next it will be anywhere people gather for demonstrations, to prevent a repeat of Dallas. Then it will be wherever and whenever the feds and local police decide. Then it will be everywhere. They won’t need to go through Congress or the courts. They will just do it.
Dr. James McHenry, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1787, recorded this in his notes about Ben Franklin. “A lady asked Dr. Franklin Well Doctor what have we got a republic or a monarchy. A republic replied the Doctor if you can keep it.”
When the police no longer trust the law and our political leaders to protect them from citizens, and our political leaders foment division and individual social vengeance from the public, liberty suffers. When liberty suffers, our republic is weakened. Eventually, we are left with nothing but law and order. And then we are no better than a monarchy–we simply get to elect our king.
We must heal this national wound not by adding more law and order, but by recognizing that our liberty is fragile. Donald Trump hit the right tone on this–it’s the best response I’ve read.
Last night’s horrific execution-style shootings of 12 Dallas law enforcement officers – five of whom were killed and seven wounded- is an attack on our country. It is a coordinated, premeditated assault on the men and women who keep us safe.
We must restore law and order. We must restore the confidence of our people to be safe and secure in their homes and on the street.
The senseless, tragic deaths of two people in Louisiana and Minnesota reminds us how much more needs to be done.
This morning I offer my thoughts and prayers for all of the victims’ families, and we pray for our brave police officers and first responders who risk their lives to protect us every single day.
Our nation has become too divided. Too many Americans feel like they’ve lost hope. Crime is harming too many citizens. Racial tensions have gotten worse, not better. This isn’t the American Dream we all want for our children.
This is a time, perhaps more than ever, for strong leadership, love and compassion. We will pull through these tragedies.
If only Trump were this good all the time.