Last Easter, the Right was celebrating the Bunkerville rebellion, and the Left was calling for severe measures – drone strikes, if necessary – to beat down armed resistance to law enforcement. By Christmas, the roles were neatly reversed, with the Left protesting against the ever-growing tide of law enforcement abuses and the Right accusing police critics of fomenting “revolution.”
Both sides agree that nobody needs to worry about getting hurt as long as they render immediate and unqualified submission to the police. They also agree that individuals have the right to resist when they are being abused and their lives threatened by the police. They can embrace these mutually exclusive propositions because of a third point on which they tacitly agree: The duty to submit, and the right to resist, depend entirely on the identity of the person or people on the receiving end of state-licensed abuse.
This is to say that both sides agree with Vladimir Lenin’s dictum that in politics the basic question is “Who does what to Whom.” They have also embraced Lenin’s formula for “scientific dictatorship” – “Power without limit, resting directly on force, restrained by no laws, absolutely unrestricted by rules.”
Police officers are situational Leninists, authorized to use lethal force to make people submit to their will, irrespective of the law.
“How about this? Listen to police officers’ commands, listen to what we tell you, and just stop,” eructated Cleveland Police Union Commissar Jeffrey Follmer in defense of the police murder of Tamir Rice. The twelve-year-old, who was carrying a BB pistol in a state with an open carry law, was gunned down by police within two seconds of their arrival at the park where he had been playing.
Even if we stipulate that citizens have a duty to render immediate compliance with police “commands,” Rice had no time to comply. Rather than conceding that point, Follmer used the child’s death as an object lesson to other Mundanes: You are the property of the State, and what liberties you enjoy – including the freedom to continue breathing – are subject to summary termination at the whim of a police officer.
Immediate, unqualified obedience to a police officer “eliminates a lot of problems,” Follmer insists. “I think the nation needs to realize that when we tell you to do something, do it, and if you’re wrong you’re wrong, and if you’re right, then the courts will figure it out.”
And if you are brutalized or killed without cause by a member of the State’s Punitive Priesthood, the courts will not be troubled by the matter, because the system’s mechanisms of self-justification will quickly ratify the lethal actions of the police officer.
There is a heuristic process in place – but it is designed to reform and correct the behavior of the public, rather than that of the police departments supposedly established for its protection. The burden is on us to submit to the armed people who are supposedly our servants. As a punitive populist meme dictates: “Breathe easy – don’t break the law.”
That motto is inscribed on a line of t-shirts designed by South Bend, Indiana police officer Jason Barthel. The shirts display a badge insignia against set the “Blue Line” logo — the universal colors of the State’s privileged gang-banger fraternity.
“We are not here to do anything negative to the public,” insists Barthel. “We’re here to protect the public and we want you to breathe easy knowing that the police are here to be with you and for you and protect you.”
Police officers – as I have wearied myself in pointing out – have no enforceable duty to protect any citizen from criminal violence. They are paid to enforce the will of the political class that preys upon property, a role that includes inflicting criminal violence on those whose seek to protect their property against such predation.
Jason Barthel divides his time between law enforcement and honest work as a small business owner. As a police officer, Mr. Barthel can commit criminal violence — including homicide — and take refuge in the claim of “qualified immunity.” In private life, however, he could very easily be prosecuted and ruined for any of the myriad regulatory infractions he inevitably commits every day as an entrepreneur – and wind up being fatally deprived of breath if, like Eric Garner, he refused to cooperate with the imperious demands of a law enforcement officer.
Both Cliven Bundy and Eric Garner were accused of tax evasion – Bundy of refusing to pay grazing fees to the federal government, Garner of selling individual untaxed cigarettes. Both of them were confronted by law enforcement personnel who were prepared to confiscate their property and kill them if they resisted.
Garner was murdered on the streets of Staten Island because he dared to assert self-ownership – “It stops today!” is the modern equivalent of “Don’t tread on me” – and nobody on the scene was willing, or able, to come to his defense.
Bundy is alive because of the intervention of armed fellow citizens who were willing to point guns at police in defense of the rancher, his family, and their rights. He was also predictably – and quite dishonestly – accused of being a racist. All of the denunciations of Bundy were offered by left-leaning commentators who have more recently discovered that the horrors of police militarization and the culture of impunity that characterizes law enforcement.
Many of the same right-leaning commentators who extolled Cliven Bundy’s resistance to the BLM and the Las Vegas Metro Police have dismissed Garner as a “thug” and a “career criminal,” and insist that the murder of two NYPD officers is a direct result of “anti-police hate speech.”
“Like Pontius Pilate[,] who deluded himself into thinking that he could `wash his hands’ of his part in Jesus’ death, so too do Barack Obama, Al Sharpton, Eric Holder, Bill DeBlasio, and every other politician, `civil rights activist,’ and commentator who did their part to fuel the inferno of anti-police rhetoric think that they can no wash their hands of their responsibility for the murders of [NYPD] Officers Ramos and Liu,” bloviates authoritarian commentator Jack Kerwick at TownHall.com.
Writing from the right-Leninist perspective – which in this case dictates collective guilt on the basis of imputed motives — Kerwick claims that “the only difference” between murderer Ismaiiyl Brinsley and critics of the police is that “while those who regard police as `racists’ or `armed enforcers’ of `the State’ talk the talk, Brinsley actually walked the walk.”
Interestingly, Kerwick – who fancies himself a philosopher of sorts — doesn’t explain why, in the case of the torture and execution of Jesus, he condemns the judge who imposed the death sentence, and the officers who dutifully carried out their lawful orders by executing it, choosing instead to take the side of the condemned criminal.
But I digress.
“Words mean things,” insisted another right-wing proponent of collective guilt in the murder of Officers Liu and Ramos. “Words cause actions.” The journal published by the organization over which that individual presides peddled a similarly expansive indictment, identifying the “real enemy” as “those who stoke the fires of racial unrest with rhetoric forged on lies and feeding, every day, on blood.”
Transpose those sentiments into a slightly different collectivist idiom, and they are indistinguishable from the rhetoric that came out of the Clinton White House, and the State-aligned media, following the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995.
That terrorist act, we were told, precipitated from a “climate of violence” created by “anti-government extremists” who condemned the Waco Massacre while routinely — and quite properly — referring to the ATF and other federal law enforcement shock troops as “Jackbooted Thugs.”
At the time of the bombing, the cover The New American magazine – the publication alluded to above — depicted an ATF badge with the headline: “Freedom’s Foes.” For the next several years, TNA and its sponsoring organization were routinely denounced as part of the “real enemy” who “stoked the fires of [political] unrest” with anti-government rhetoric.
At the time, I was a senior editor at that publication, which led to being listed – by name – as a terrorist sympathizer in a law enforcement training program produced by a federal subcontractor named John Nutter.
Subsequent to the murders of Liu and Ramos, we have been instructed to pretend that this crime happened because a small and atypical group of anti-police protesters chanted: “What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want them? Now!”
In similar fashion, following the massacre of 168 people – including 17 children – in the OKC bombing, the Regime and its servitors in the media sought to implicate the entire conservative sub-population in that crime. That agitprop campaign focused heavily on anti-government “hate rhetoric,” such as the advice provided by syndicated talk show host – and convicted felon – G. Gordon Liddy to listeners in the event of an ATF raid.
“Head shots, head shots,” Liddy instructed. “Kill the sons of bitches… Shoot twice to the belly and if the does not work, shoot to the groin area. Arm yourself. Get instructed in how to shoot straight. And don’t register [your weapons] either.”
An updated version of that refrain was taken up against the “insurrectionist right” earlier this year after Jerad and Amanda Miller, who were banished from Bunkerville by supporters of Cliven Bundy, murdered three people — Las Vegas Metro Officers Alyn Beck and Igor Soldo, and Joseph Wilcox, an armed citizen who heroically tried to stop their rampage.
Apart from his well-documented hostility toward law enforcement, Ismaiiyl Brinsley had no connection of any kind to the nation-wide movement in opposition to police brutality.
The Millers, on the other hand, were among many hundreds of people who traveled to Bunkerville, Nevada to support rancher Cliven Bundy in his confrontation with the BLM. They may well have been the only volunteers who were asked to leave because of concerns regarding what was described as their “aggressive nature” and eagerness to incite violence. During their brief visit, however, Jerad was interviewed by the local NBC affiliate, which meant that he was depicted as representative of the people who had rallied to the Bundy family’s cause.
Predictably, following the couple’s subsequent killing spree critics of Cliven Bundy claimed that the rancher, his supporters, and the “anti-government” Right shared collective responsibility for that crime – just as Jack Kerwick and his right-Leninist ilk insist that critics of law enforcement constitute the “Many Brinsleys” who murdered Liu and Ramos.
Significantly, the only mention Mr. Berwick made of Cliven Bundy during or following the Bunkerville stand-off was to condemn Republican politicians and commentators who had abandoned the rancher after he was traduced as a “racist” for expressing cultural views not dramatically different from those of more conventional conservatives.
“Republicans would be well served to heed Christ’s admonition to remove the boulder from their own eyes before proceeding to pluck out the pebble from the eyes of their neighbors,” Kerwick pontificated, sparing Bundy and his supporters from criticism for actually threatening to kill police officers in defense of their property rights.
Like much of the activist Left, interestingly, Kerwick and other conservatives are eager to re-purpose the controversy over the police state into an overtly racial conflict – one side depicting police as enforcers of “white privilege,” the other condemning critics of the police for promoting the idea of black victimhood and the “entitlement mentality.” This is precisely the quarrel our self-appointed rulers want us to have. In this way, the public will be obsessed over the question of whether their officially designated collective is the “who” or the “whom.”
In this fashion, the public will be distracted from critical examination of the “what” – state-licensed aggressive violence – and be dissuaded from pondering the possibility that if the “what” were removed from the equation, the “who” and the “whom” wouldn’t matter nearly as much.