Sunday, August 17, 2014


Want to know where the discussion set off by the events in Ferguson is going to end up? Look at this Twitter exchange between right-wing radio host Michael Medved and right-wing Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby:

Also see Ross Douthat's latest column, "Playing Soldier in the Suburbs," which takes exactly the same tack as Jacoby's tweet -- yes, heavy-metal policing is bad...
In an era of riots and hijackings, the SWAT model understandably spread nationwide. But as the riots died away and the threat of domestic terror receded, SWAT tactics -- helicopters, heavy weaponry, the works -- became increasingly integrated into normal crime-fighting, and especially into the war on drugs.

... It's our antiterror policies made manifest, our tax dollars at work.

And it's a path to potential disaster, for cops and citizens alike.... Militarized tactics that are potentially useful in specialized circumstances -- like firefights with suicidal terrorist groups -- can be counterproductive when employed for crowd-control purposes by rank-and-file cops.
... but hey, we don't want to be too hasty in condemning other aspects of criminal-justice heavy-handedness:
To many critics of police militarization, of course, the helmets and heavy weaponry are just symptoms. The disease is the entire range of aggressive police tactics (from no-knock raids to stop-and-frisk), the racial disparities they help perpetuate and our society’s drug laws and extraordinary incarceration rate....

The argument for broad reform is appealing; it might also be overly optimistic. To be clear: I cheered [Rand] Paul's comments, I support most of the reforms under consideration, I want lower incarceration rates and fewer people dying when a no-knock raid goes wrong. But there may be trade-offs here: In an era of atomization, distrust and economic stress, our punitive system may be a big part of what's keeping crime rates as low as they are now, making criminal justice reform more complicated than a simple pro-liberty free lunch....
In America, right-wingers always get to position the Overton window, on every subject of debate. Right now, they're positioning it between Douthat/Jacoby and Medved. The "left" and "right" in this debate will be: do we get rid of the MRAPs and BearCats and keep the rest of our usual tactics? Or do we keep it all?

It would be lovely to think that Rand Paul, by joining liberals in condemning the racial inequities of our justice system, has helped move the discussion to the left. But as I told you on Thursday, even Paul stressed the military hardware rather than the racism in his Time op-ed. And now those of his conservative brethren who are willing to acknowledge any problems whatsoever in how we deal out criminal justice are going to limit themselves to talking about tanks. So, outside MSNBC, that's all we're going to talk about.


Victor said...

The whole issue is, that not only in Ferguson, but in other mostly black areas, the police don't see themselves as a police force, but as an occupation force.

And our Reich-Wingers are fine with that.
Better than fine, actually. They're no occupying THEIR neighborhoods - only the "Blah" and Hispanic ones.

And, with the hand-me-down MIC toys they get, you almost can't blame the police girls and boys for wanting to use them.

I'm not saying that taking away all of the military hardware, and the tazer's, is the total solution.
But, it would be a nice start.

Of course, what do we do with the greedy sociopaths in the NRA, who have armed so many people - black and white: but, mostly white - that cops feel that they have a legitimate right to be threatening/abusive when confronting the public?

It's a vicious circle.
The "War on Drugs," meets the NRA pushing guns to make still more profits, meets the MIC wanting to sell more new shit to the military, and encouraging them to hand their old shit down to police forces, who can then use it in their "War on Drugs," and all of the up-armed drug dealers, and citizens.

We are well, and truly, f*cked!

But, after all, that's what the conservative powers-that-be want!

Raymond Smith said...

Racial discrimination has always been a Non-issue for the GOP. What would the GOP have if they did not embrace racist?

Victor said...

Misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, and uber-"Christianity," kind of round of that racism.

They just pick which one will help them win in what area, and then run with it!

Palli said...

This insincerity from republicans is only temporary talk- grasping a hook to conjure up some minorities votes. Or at least make the ballot tabulation fraud plausible. said...

I note that Right Wing believes the imprisonment of large numbers of black and brown people is a good thing, according to Douthat. Without much empirical study he credits it for the drop in crime. (Kevin Drum has pointed at the strong correlation between the drop in crime and the drop of lead contamination in the environment - but since that is the result of the evil Government regulations Conservatives have completely rejected this explanation).