The founder of the first modern police department suggests a path forward.
The recent death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, and the riots and anti-riot police actions that followed them, have made new radical libertarians out of some of our friends on the left, who are demanding the defunding and abolition of city police departments. As Dan McLaughlin points out, their cheerleaders in the media are undertaking yogic exertions to pretend that left-wing radicals proposing to abolish city police departments are not left-wing radicals proposing to abolish city police departments. Apparently, we are to apply the Selena Zito method and take them seriously but not literally.
There is someone we might consult about a plausible police-reform agenda: the founding father of modern policing, Sir Robert Peel.
Police departments as we know them today are a relatively new kind of agency. We have had courts, sheriffs, bailiffs, etc., for a long time, but the first modern police department did not exist until Peel organized the Metropolitan Police in London in 1829. It is to Peel that we owe the modern notion of “policing with consent,” the principle that police agencies operate legitimately only where they operate with the consent of those subject to their powers. The situation in Minneapolis and elsewhere suggests that the local police agencies have lost the confidence of at least a portion of those to whom they are responsible, and that their legitimacy is therefore in question. If there is anything at all of substance to these riots and the spectacle of Nancy Pelosi kneeling in kente cloth (“dressing up like a Wakandan chess set” in the low-pH assessment of screenwriter Eric Haywood), then that question of legitimacy is it.
(It may be that the riots are only tangentially related to any real policy agenda and are instead simply a manifestation of the ancient instinct to conduct penitential rites during a plague. That’s my read.)
Peel’s nine principles of policing articulate more of a reform agenda than the would-be reformers do. We should consult them.
Peel insisted that civil police were to be understood as a more liberal alternative to (attn: Senator Cotton) using military forces to quell disorder and relying on excessive punishment to terrorize the citizenry into submission, which had been the previous model. We have strayed far from that ideal, not only in relying on the threat of military force during the recent episodes of political violence but also in reshaping our municipal police departments to look and think more like military units than civil authorities. We have given the police military weapons and military uniforms, the results of which have ranged from the ridiculous (the SWAT team in my hometown of Lubbock, Texas, skulking around in woodland camouflage when answering a domestic call in a famously treeless environment) to the dystopian (riot police dressed up like extras from Starship Troopers, that great American testament to aspirational fascism). We arm the police like soldiers and we dress them up like soldiers, and we tell them they are at war — with drugs, with crime, but, ultimately, with the citizens they purport to serve.
And what was Joe Biden’s famous crime bill if not a semi-hysterical attempt to impose through the terror of severe punishment that which could not be achieved through other means?
Peel believed that “the extent to which the co-operation of the public can be secured diminishes proportionately the necessity of the use of physical force and compulsion for achieving police objectives” and that the police must “use physical force only when the exercise of persuasion, advice, and warning is found to be insufficient to obtain public co-operation to an extent necessary to secure observance of law or to restore order, and to use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective.”
(The “Peelian Principles,” from which I am quoting, may not have been put on paper by Peel himself.)
The death of George Floyd did not result from the “minimum degree of force which is necessary,” or anything close to that. The more general problem is that the police are not generally trusted to ethically and intelligently determine what the appropriate minimum degree of necessary force is and surely do not universally deserve such trust, as many police departments have demonstrated on many occasions.
Peel advised that the confidence and consent of the public were to be gained “not by pandering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to law, in complete independence of policy . . . by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of the public without regard to their wealth or social standing, by ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humour, and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.” The word “courtesy” stands out in those sentences. You can have courtesy, or you can have a state of “war” — it is difficult to have both at the same time.
And that may help us to understand why many police critics remain unmoved by data suggesting that there is no obvious widespread racial disparity in the use of deadly force by police; unjust police killings, this line of criticism holds, are only part of a larger pattern of targeting and mistreating African Americans that ranges from disrespect and discourtesy to racial profiling, and so the (contested) data on deaths do not reflect the more general facts of the case. If George Floyd had survived his ordeal, the behavior of the police would not have been any less wrong — it would only have produced a less shocking and dramatic outcome.
That kind of behavior comes from a bunker mentality, an us-and-them view of the world. Peel’s advice foresaw this as well: “The police are the public and . . . the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.” We no longer even pay lip service to the notion that the police are the public and the public are the police, as attested to by such developments as “qualified immunity” and laws establishing that assaulting a member of the general public is a less serious offense than assaulting a police officer. We have taken a civil office and made a kind of caste of it.
The final Peelian Principle: “To recognise 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.”
Pundits who spend their time on cable news wondering why so many Americans have tuned out their “country over party!” talk need look no further than at an excellent piece in today’s New York Times, in which Trip Gabriel correctly describes the turn of events that led to Ralph Northam keeping his job as governor of Virginia:
Party officials and analysts in Virginia said Mr. Northam owed his political survival to fortuitous events as well as his own efforts.
Just days after the surfacing of Mr. Northam’s 1984 yearbook photo — with one figure in blackface and another in Ku Klux Klan robes — the lieutenant governor, Justin Fairfax, was accused of sexual abuse by two women, which he denied. Before the week was out, Attorney General Mark R. Herring acknowledged he had worn blackface as a college student.
With the state’s top three Democrats compromised, the desire to force them from office and make way for the Republican next in line lost appeal to many in the party.
This is exactly correct. Effectively, the Democratic party and its allies took the view that the alleged bad behavior of one top Democrat was terrible and should lead to immediate resignation, but that the alleged bad behavior of all the top Democrats was worth ignoring in case the Republican party gain an advantage. Or, to put it mathematically, Democrats in Virginia decided that one was a bigger number than three. Had Northam been the only top Democrat who was embroiled in scandal, he’d likely have gone. But, because all of them were embroiled in scandal, doing something about it “lost appeal to many in the party.”
Later in the piece, Gabriel makes it clear that, for many Virginia Democrats, the issues were simply more important:
“The liberal groups that should have continued to put pressure on Governor Northam for this scandal made the political calculation that it was better for their self-interest to shut up about it,” said Will Ritter, a Republican strategist in the state.
Whatever doubts that lingered with Democratic voters about state leadership were largely banished in the summer, when the governor called the Legislature back to Richmond to pass gun restrictions after a mass shooting in Virginia Beach on May 31.
I read the calls for Northam’s resignation, many of which accused the man of no less a crime than having reopened the wounds of slavery, segregation, and the Civil War. It is interesting to learn that these infractions can be forgiven if one organizes a symbolic special session on a hot-button issue.
Why do so many people stick with Trump despite his terrible behavior? Why won’t Republicans put “country over party?” Why is the specter of the other side so powerful relative to the realities of one’s own? Virginia Democrats know the answers to these questions. And they ain’t pretty. I wish devoutly that it were not, but this is the age we live in, and its failings are by no means limited to one side.
On Tuesday night my CNN colleague Chris Cuomo correctly asserted that I, and people like me, embrace terms such as “nationalist” and “America First” — phrases that are, in his view, “stained.” He challenged me to provide an example of “nationalism that was positive and not oppressive to another.” My immediate answer was “American nationalism,” to which he responded, “There’s no American nationalism.”
It is abundantly clear, of course, that American nationalism is a real thing. We can consider, of course, the merits of this ideology, but we cannot honestly litigate its existence. Our TV debate that night revealed a foundational chasm that is magnified in our political discourse. For those of us embedded in the widespread 2016 movement toward sovereignty, a muscular return to nationalism forms a prerequisite for economic fairness and the diffusion of power. Conversely, the “resistance” views nationalism as a retrograde parochialism that usurps the allegedly enlightened internationalism that has dominated policy and thinking among elites of government, big business, academia, and the media for several decades.
But instead of confronting American nationalism on its actual tenets, the Democratic Party and mainstream media complex smear the movement as inherently racist and evocative of oppressive fascism. For example, permissive immigration advocates assail U.S. border enforcement as intrinsically racist. During that CNN discussion, my colleague Angela Rye insisted that the motivations of people — like me — who desire stronger border protection flow from “fear that white people are losing their power in this country. That is what is driving this. White fear. What is what is driving this. It is racism.”
In addition to slandering me, a Hispanic and immigrant son, as motivated by “white fear,” Miss Rye’s diatribe conveniently overlooks the clear reality that America is not a race. American citizenship pays no regard at all to color. In point of fact, protecting America from illegal alien trespassers proves particularly crucial for Americans of color, who suffer disproportionately from the ravages of mass illegal immigration, including unfair labor market competition and totally preventable street crime from dangerous troublemakers mixed among the migrants.
Rye then extended the verbal attacks. She echoed the alarmism of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, warning that, by operating detention facilities for border trespassers, America heads down a road that leads to “death camps” like those operated by Nazi Germany. I wish that such inane hyperbole could be dismissed as a radical outlier but, in fact, such comparisons have become all too common in the mainstream media since President Trump’s election. For example, MSNBC’s Donny Deutsch admonished “Morning Joe” viewers that “if you vote for Trump then you the voter – you, not Trump – are standing at the border like Nazis.”
In this effort, agents of the left deliberately conflate American nationalism with the rancid ethno-fascist history of the Axis powers. The latter built political bonds based on blood and soil, focusing on racial purity and cross-border military conquest. In direct contravention to such evil, American nationalism discounts heritage and genetics. As a nation of immigrants, our founding instead focused almost totally on shared beliefs, on our creed as enunciated in the Declaration of Independence: “we hold these truths…” There is no DNA test for American nationalism; it is, rather, a commonality of believers. Among these beliefs are the principles of pluralism, religious liberty, free-market economics, respect for our Constitution, and reverence for our great flag.
In addition, quite unlike the expansionist ethos of ethno-fascism, American nationalism, properly understood, seeks protection of our interests with a minimum of U.S. intervention abroad. Whereas actual fascists overrun borders and abuse the prerogatives of sovereign nations, our nationalism strives to protect the integrity of our borders. In such efforts, we fulfill the teachings of a very famous nationalist, Mahatma Gandhi. As leader of the Indian Nationalist Movement, he once remarked that “our nationalism can be no peril to other nations inasmuch as we will exploit none, just as we will allow none to exploit us.”
America First stipulates that we, like any proud people, place our country’s own self-interest before the goals of multinational structures. I believe this aspect of American nationalism drives much of the visceral disdain displayed by the globalist elites. Luminaries of media and big business, for example, have thrived in a multilateral world, and largely find stronger bonds with journalists or executives in Paris, France than with the people of Paris, Texas. These cronies, therefore, recoil at the notion of enlightened nationalism and consequently seek to delegitimize it as somehow racist and despotic.
But these privileged influencers should stop this dishonest disparagement. They should also look beyond their narrow self-interest and instead acknowledge the incredible benefits both here and abroad from an America motivated by a rational, mature, and edified self-interest. To channel Teri Hatcher’s famous breakup line to Jerry Seinfeld way back in 1993: American nationalism: It’s real … and it’s spectacular!
President Obama misunderstands the country, not the other way around.
By Kevin D. Williamson • National Review
Race makes people crazy, but often not in the way you’d expect. A nation watched wide-eyed as Melissa Harris-Perry of MSNBC complained that the Star Wars franchise was racist because the major villain is “black.” Darth Vader is black in the sense that Johnny Cash or Ben Roethlisberger or certain figures from Arthurian legend are “black” — white guys in black outfits — so people kept waiting for Harris-Perry, “America’s foremost public intellectual,” to crack and let us know that she was joking. But she wasn’t joking.
One cannot imagine what she’d make of that Adolf Hitler/Darth Vader episode of “Epic Rap Battles of History,” in which the Nazi dismisses the Sith and his off-brand Stormtroopers: “You leading an army of white men? Disgraceful.” And, of course, in the latest installment, The Force Awakens, one of those white men turns out to have the black face of English actor John Boyega.
This isn’t the sort of thing that drives people nuts: If you’re breaking down the hidden racial significance of Darth Vader’s black armor, you’re already there. Continue reading
In the aftermath of the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases one element is the most perplexing. The President and his Attorney General are claiming, or insinuating that both victims were gentle and peaceful black persons, and the use of deadly force by the policemen in both cases was unjustified and essentially racially motivated. This judgment is blatantly counterfactual. More importantly, it is also destructively retrogressive. Just as the ideologically fueled racism of the twentieth century was ultimately defeated in Europe and beyond, the unsustainability of exploiting racial hatred in the United States for nefarious political objectives is losing its appeal for the vast majority of the people, both blacks and non-blacks, who share the American dream of universal liberty, internal and external peace, stability and prosperity for themselves and their families.
Honesty ensures clairvoyance. It is also always beneficial to be aware of the facts of a matter before decisions are made about what needs to be done to address effectively a given situation. Then again, if elected representatives and their handpicked ideological soulmates distort or pervert reality, they are betraying the fundamentals of their political legitimacy. Continue reading
The attorney general battled against state voter-ID laws, despite all evidence of their fairness and popularity. What will his successor do?
by Edwin Meese III and J. Kenneth Blackwell • Wall Street Journal
Attorney General Eric Holder, who announced his resignation on Thursday, leaves a dismal legacy at the Justice Department, but one of his legal innovations was especially pernicious: the demonizing of state attempts to ensure honest elections.
As a former U.S. attorney general under President Reagan, and a former Ohio secretary of state, we would like to say something that might strike some as obvious: Those who oppose photo voter-ID laws and other election-integrity reforms are intent on making it easier to commit vote fraud.
That conclusion is inescapable, given the well-established evidence that voter-ID laws don’t disenfranchise minorities or reduce minority voting, and in many instances enhance it, despite claims to the contrary by Mr. Holder and his allies. As more states adopt such laws, the left has railed against them with increasing fury, even invoking the specter of the Jim Crow era to describe electoral safeguards common to most nations, including in the Third World. Continue reading
In Kentucky, Elaine Chao Endures Racist Attacks From Liberals
The former Republican Secretary of Labor has had to deal with a number of bigoted comments from Democratic partisans in the last year. So why is racism treated differently when it comes from the left?
One can hardly turn on cable news without hearing someone say that Republicans are racists trying to roll back the clock on civil rights. Having a policy disagreement with President Obama, many of his partisan supporters argue, is nothing more than thinly veiled racism.
But Democrats who imagine racist slights and “dog whistles” at every turn would be wise to look at the vicious anti-Asian bigotry on display in Kentucky, which is being fomented by supporters of their so-called progressive party. Continue reading
by Kurt Schlichter
Liberals have a new word for what normal people call “success.” They call it “privilege,” as if a happy, prosperous life is the result of some magic process related to where your great-great-great-grandfather came from.
It’s the latest leftist argument tactic, which means it is a tactic designed to prevent any argument and to beat you into rhetorical submission. Conservatives, don’t play their game.
It’s easy to see that this notion that accomplishment comes not from hard work but from some mysterious force, operating out there in the ether, is essential to liberal thought. To excuse the dole-devouring layabouts who form so much of the Democrat voting base, it is critical that they undermine the achievements of those who support themselves. We can’t have the American people thinking that hard work leads to success; people might start asking why liberal constituencies don’t just work harder instead of demanding more money from those who actually produce something. Continue reading
The sighs of relief from the left are almost audible. Racism lives! The hate is out there!
It would be unfitting to throw a party for the occasion of hateful comments from Donald Sterling and Cliven Bundy, but some liberal journalists are probably tempted. “I’m trying to wring some grim humor out of the news, but I’m getting my racists all mixed up,” quipped Robin Abcarian of the Los Angeles Times. “Believe it or not,” wrote Mary Curtis in the Washington Post, “something good might arise from the racist swamp of recent news cycles.” It’s all right, Ms. Curtis. You may proceed with your heel clicks. We all know that multiple high-profile racists in a 2-week period make for high times for liberals.
Liberals need racist foes to vanquish. Most of the time they have to resort to finding them where they obviously aren’t there. Ross Douthat could print his mother’s best cookie recipes, and his New York Times readers would still lambast him as a bigot. (Perhaps we would learn that snickerdoodles are a well-known symbol of oppression in certain sub-cultures.) Paul Ryan can hardly order a sandwich without liberal pundits combing through in search of the racist “coding” that they know to be hidden within all Republican rhetoric. Continue reading
Hate-crime laws may have the paradoxical effect of privileging some victims of violence over others.
Frazier Glenn Cross (a.k.a. Frazier Glenn Miller Jr.), the 73-year-old extremist accused of killing three people in Overland Park, Kan., is an avowed anti-Semite who reportedly yelled “Heil, Hitler!” while sitting in a police car.
Yet his victims were Christians: Dr. William Lewis Corporan and his grandson, Reat Underwood, were Methodists who were at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City because Reat was going to compete in an “American Idol”-style singing competition. Terri LaManno, the third victim who was killed at the Village Shalom assisted-living facility, was a Catholic. Continue reading
One approaches the race fray with trepidation, but here we go, tippy-toe.
The race cards have been flying so fast and furious lately, one can hardly tell the kings from the queens.
Leading the weird lately has been Democratic Alabama state Rep. Alvin Holmes, who called Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina “Uncle Toms.” Holmes, who also has said that it’s fine by him if men want to marry mules and, while we’re exorcising demons, that white people are only pro-life until their daughter gets pregnant by a black man.
When Mark Childress wrote “Crazy in Alabama,” he wasn’t just whistling Dixie! Continue reading
by Juan Williams
Have you heard the news?
Condoleezza Rice lacks “moral authority.” She fails to meet the standards of “exemplary citizenship” and she does not have what it takes to “inspire” graduating college seniors.
That crazy thinking comes from the New Brunswick Faculty Council of Rutgers University. They voted last week to ask university leadership to cancel Rice’s invitation to be this year’s Commencement Speaker and receive an honorary degree.
Yes, apparently the first African-American woman to serve as National Security Adviser and the nation’s Secretary of State doesn’t have what it takes to be honored by Rutgers. Continue reading
by John Fund
Would America be better off if the Outrage Industry went on a diet for New Year’s?
We just spent much of December quacking and arguing way too much about the views of Phil Robertson, one of the stars of the Duck Dynasty reality-TV series. Most of the attention focused on Robertson’s harsh, mean-spirited comments about gays and on the subsequent, short-lived decision of the cable network A&E to suspend him. But people saved plenty of ire for his comments, offered in an interview with GQ magazine, that when he grew up in Louisiana in the 1950s he never saw “the mistreatment of any black person” and that African Americans in that era didn’t have complaints about white people.
That’s an invitation to call Phil naïve, blind, or a liar. Continue reading
In early 2011, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the constitutionality of ObamaCare (né the Affordable Care Act of 2009). One would think that the time for such a hearing might be before passage of the act, but that is the way we do things around here, and besides, that is not the point of this column, which (as you can see from the title), is about the minimum wage.
The point derives from an exchange between Utah’s freshman (very fresh at the time, only a day or two old) Senator Mike Lee and Walter Dellinger, heavyweight lawyer, professor of constitutional law at Duke University, Assistant Solicitor General, presidential legal adviser, and then Acting Solicitor General in the Clinton Administration. In the course of the exchange, Lee wondered why, if the Interstate Commerce Clause would support a requirement for everyone to buy insurance, it wouldn’t support a requirement that every citizen buy (if not actually consume) three servings of leafy green vegetables every day. (That was in the heady days when supporters of ObamaCare still thought it was a regulation, before Chief Justice Roberts discovered that it was actually a tax.) Continue reading