Race and Law Enforcement: my pessimism for the short term

Having this discussion with conservatives is both frustrating and painful.

First, I should lay my cards on the table: I am for equal treatment by law enforcement. I believe that people should be judged by what THEY do and not by what others do. Racial profiling is wrong, period. And I believe that darker skinned people, especially black males, are unfairly profiled. My evidence for this: look at what routinely happens to even black professional males (the high achievers). Yes, it is wrong even if it happens to underachievers, but I use the high achievers to take away “they might have looked criminal” or “they knew of their record” excuse.

And NO, I am not here to defend what any “activist” says or does; activists don’t represent me. I’ll respond to queries about President Obama or Secretary Clinton as they do represent me; I voted for the former and support the latter.

Now to my argument:

I thought that President Obama was spot on:

But OF COURSE the conservatives hated it.

I’ve struggled to see exactly what they’d find wrong.

Perhaps they think that any criticism of police should be “behind closed doors”? Of course, this tells a large segment of the public that their concerns aren’t worth addressing.

Perhaps they think that there really isn’t that big of a problem but it is mostly a matter of genuine criminals complaining because they got caught and naive liberals falling for it?

If so, explain why highly successful black professionals have a beef?

I have a hard time imagining getting pulled over multiple times every year.

Of course, conservatives love to bring up “black on black” crime.

Yes, I stipulate that there are many poor black areas with appallingly high crime rates; that is undeniable, even of some “activists” will dismiss the statistics as being “racist”. And yes, that high rate will lead to a disproportionate number of encounters with police.

But how does that explain (or justify) what happened to the US Senator or to the surgeon?

Yes, black people are indeed far more likely to get killed by a common criminal than by a police officer; it isn’t even close.

But as to the question of “where are the protests about black crime”: criminals are not employed by the tax payer. They don’t represent us. Law enforcement DOES represent us; we pay their salary (and they deserve a good salary as it is a tough job).

I don’t think having a protest against murderers does much. But agitating for more accountability from those employed to protect and serve us might.

But back to the crime rate: people who live in high crime rate communities tend to not trust law enforcement. That leads to lesser enforcement which makes it easier on criminals and helps some who might not act criminally go over the line; witness what happens during, say, police strikes (in CANADA of all places). And, as pointed out by Stephen Pinker in Better Angels of our Nature, the absence of a Leviathan to keep order hand to enforce justice leads people to take the law into their own hands. Much of the violence in these regions is vigilantism. Middle class people take others to court; the poor often don’t have that option.

So, increasing trust in law enforcement benefits everyone. But why should people who are routinely mistreated by law enforcement have any confidence in it?

But alas, our conservative friends can offer only more moralizing and finger wagging…and that is why I am not hopeful for the near term.

But, well, we are getting older and eventually we dinosaurs will die out and be replaced by a more racially tolerant generation.


July 18, 2016 - Posted by | political/social, social/political | ,

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