The left professes ignorance about conservative, libertarian concerns over police militarization

posted at 3:21 pm on August 14, 2014 by Noah Rothman

The left is out in force making sure that everyone knows they don’t really listen to conservative or libertarian arguments, but are happy enough to summarize them inaccurately.

“I don’t see anybody from the libertarian or Republican movement who talk about small government and overstepping American citizens’ rights coming either on camera or social media to talk about this situation,” CNN contributor L.Z. Granderson said on Thursday.

“You want to appeal to minority voters, this is how you do it. You don’t just come to the aid of white people being under siege by the government,” he artlessly added.

Granderson is not alone.

The Washington Post’s Paul Waldman asserted on Wednesday that “there has been a near-total silence from prominent libertarians” on the situation unfolding in Ferguson. That supposed “silence” could have been construed by Waldman as prudence, seeing as the details of what happened are murky and the response to the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown has been violent and emotionally charged.

These voices on the left do not seem to have much regard for the axiom that it is best to hold one’s tongue unless certain that which is said would improve the silence. Nevertheless, the assertion that GOP and libertarian voices have been conspicuously silent on this or past episodes of excessive force by an increasingly militarized police is just flat wrong.

Among right-of-center elected officials, several have spoken out:

“Reporters should never be detained — a free press is too important — simply for doing their jobs,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) wrote on his Facebook on Thursday. “Civil liberties must be protected, but violence is not the answer.”

Together, we should all mourn the loss of life in Ferguson, Missouri and work to keep our communities safe and free. Police officers risk their lives every day to keep us safe, and any time a young man loses his life in a confrontation with law enforcement, it is tragic.

The famously libertarian congressman Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) expressed great dismay over the situation unfolding in Missouri:


Many were confused by Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) apparent silence on the situation in Ferguson. It turned out that he was penning a definitive article for Time in which he insisted that the police must be demilitarized.

“There is a systemic problem with today’s law enforcement,” Paul wrote.

Washington has incentivized the militarization of local police precincts by using federal dollars to help municipal governments build what are essentially small armies—where police departments compete to acquire military gear that goes far beyond what most of Americans think of as law enforcement.

But while conservative elected representatives must maintain some caution while commenting on the violence in Ferguson, the right-of-center commentariat enjoys a bit more freedom of expression and they have been making use of it.

It is shocking to learn today that so many on the left appear utterly unaware of the vigorous debate conservatives have been engaging in over the increasing militarization and heavy-handedness of the police. The conservative columnist S.E. Cupp has compiled a fairly comprehensive list of voices on the right who have sounded the alarm over police forces exceeding their authority.

“Historians looking back at this period in America’s development will consider it to be profoundly odd that at the exact moment when violent crime hit a 50-year low, the nation’s police departments began to gear up as if the country were expecting invasion — and, on occasion, to behave as if one were underway,” The National Review’s Charles C. W. Cooke wrote in June.

“If cops continue to take a warlike us-versus-them approach to policing the population, they just might bring the left and right together,” Fox host John Stossel noted that same month. “Government is reckless, whether it is intruding into our lives with byzantine regulations that destroy a fledgling business or with a flash-bang grenade like the one that critically wounded a child in a recent SWAT raid in Janesville, Georgia.”

“So you combine the cops overstepping the Constitution and their bounds …. some of them just starting to go dark inside, and the militarization of our police force and you have a very bad combination,” Glenn Beck observed in February. “How does that end?”

Washington Post commentator Radley Balko’s best-selling book, The Rise of the Warrior Cop, might be the definitive work on the subject of police militarization. Balko would hardly describe himself as left-leaning.

In Cupp’s amalgamation of links to right-of-center commentators expressing concern about the militarization of police, she could only link to Reason magazine’s tag “militarization of police.” Therein, nearly 30 full pages of articles on the subject go all the way back to 2006.

What the left may object to is the fact there is a robust debate on the right over this issue, and that conservatives and libertarians do not share a single monolithic opinion. On the right, there is no hive mind. There are a range of opinions on this matter, as there are on a variety of controversial political and social issues. On the left, however, there is no debate. The police in Ferguson are presumed both guilty and racist, and the only deliberation is over whether the officers accused of using undue force should have their names disclosed so as to satisfy the mob.

That is not healthy. That is not reflective of a sound party. What the left is demanding is Borg-like conformity from its members, and a general condemnation of those who do not display what is subjectively determined to be the appropriate level of enthusiasm while agreeing with them.

The fact that some center-left commentators believe there is total silence on the right when it comes to issues relating to excessive police force and semi-military posture is a shocking admission of ignorance. It is a display of obliviousness to claim that all on the right who are concerned about the erosion of Americans’ constitutional liberties have been inconsistent on the issue of police militarization.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2 3

Bfreude

listens2glenn on August 15, 2014 at 12:05 AM

Rioting on rumors is as bad as an alleged rotten cop purportedly shooting a surrendering, unarmed citizen.

Spreading violent sh*t to protest violent sh*t is bassackwards,

profitsbeard on August 15, 2014 at 2:51 AM

The question is whether Libertarians can move away from the right as clearly as they have from social conservatives.

verbaluce on August 14, 2014 at 3:47 PM

That doesn’t make any sense. Libertarians are further right wing than conservatives social or otherwise.

anuts on August 15, 2014 at 5:15 AM

The question is whether Libertarians can move away from the right as clearly as they have from social conservatives.

verbaluce on August 14, 2014 at 3:47 PM

.
That doesn’t make any sense. Libertarians are further right wing than conservatives social or otherwise.

anuts on August 15, 2014 at 5:15 AM

.
Uh, no.

listens2glenn on August 15, 2014 at 7:49 AM

The question is whether Libertarians can move away from the right as clearly as they have from social conservatives.

verbaluce on August 14, 2014 at 3:47 PM

Meaning, libertarians must start accepting that big gov’t solves all problems.

What you don’t understand is that except for social conservatives, libertarians and conservatives are aligned on most issues. Indeed, Libertarians would take it farther than most conservatives in terms of “small, limited gov’t” and letting each person simply fend for themselves.

Where Libertarians and many Conservatives part ways is on things like abortion, drug laws, death penalty, gay marriage, having borders, and foreign policy (I’ve never been clear on what a Libertarian foreign policy would be = – do nothing?).

So, the left agrees with Libertarianism on abortion, gay marriage, legal drugs, no death penalty, and having no borders or immigration laws. And agrees with Libertarians on using no military force in foreign policy.

The left disagrees with Libertarianism in that Libertarians would want to get rid of all entitlement programs, the department of education, affirmative action, discrimination laws, Obamacare, Medicare, Medicaid, most federal programs, most taxes, most spending, and would not engage in the kind of foreign policy the left likes (giving money and aid to poor countries).

In a Libertarian society, the gov’t would provide a police force to keep people from killing each other or stealing each other’s property and that is about it. the Court’s would exist to enforce contracts. The Gov’t would do little else. For the most stringent Libertarians, even roads and bridges would be privatized, with owners charging tolls. Not even sure if Libertarians agree with having paid fire departments. After all, most place do just fine with volunteer fire departments (which, by the way, is my argument as to why gov’t employee firefighters are almost always vastly overpaid. If someone else willingly does your job for free – you shouldn’t be paid much more than minimum wage).

Monkeytoe on August 15, 2014 at 9:04 AM

The right discovered the possibility of state violence in Waco.

libfreeordie on August 14, 2014 at 3:41 PM

Really? that’s when the right started being against big gov’t and abuse of gov’t power?

Interesting theory. I guess prior to that the right was all fine and dandy with big gov’t and abuse of gov’t power?

Why do you have to be dishonest all of the time?

And, why, even when we can agree on something – the militarization of the police – are you simply unwilling or unable to agree, but must find fault and “evilness”?

You should look at yourself and ask – “why can’t I simply accept that I agree with conservatives on this issue?”

because you define yourself as being “against the right”. In your mind, conservatives are evil.

this entire issue proves the point. You can’t accept that conservatives have been warning against the militarization of the police for more than a decade. Not all conservatives, just like not all liberals agree on everything, but the belief that the militarization of the police is bad has been growing on the right for more than a decade.

You don’t know that because like all leftists, you refuse to actually listen to or acknowledge the right’s arguments and positions – instead you create in your own mind what you believe to be the right’s motives and “secret goals”. Which is why you can never engage in an honest argument. You ignore everything conservatives say and instead attack stawmen and secret motives (racism usually) that you assign to us, inventing “dog whistles” and the like to argue against.

So, because you don’t have any idea what conservatives’ real positions and arguments are – you are surprised when someone says “yeah, conservatives have been saying this for years” and refuse to believe it.

And, when evidence of past articles, speeches, etc. are found, in order to preserve your world view, you come up with something else as the secret motive or whatever – “you only said that because of Waco”.

It’s not enough that conservatives are against the militarization of the police. You have to find fault in that stance. “You don’t base your opposition to militarization of police on the grounds of racism, like I do, and therefore your opposition to militarization of police is unpure, you dirty, evil conservative” is the thought process on display here.

Perhaps we came to the position that militarization of police is bad from different places. But, don’t we agree on the issue? Why do you have to find secret motives and impure basis even for something we seem to agree on?

You really should ask yourself that. Because it will explain a lot about you that I don’t think you realize.

Perhaps it will allow you to actually look at, and consider a conservative argument for once instead of simply always reverting to the secret conservative arguments in your head (“I know that conservatives want limited gov’t because they are racist!!”).

It could be a hell of a learning experience if you were open to it. I’m not saying it would convert you to conservatism, but it would likely make you a better person.

Monkeytoe on August 15, 2014 at 9:18 AM

And I haven’t heard this dope comment on this:

LAPD officer screamed ‘shoot him’ before gunning down man with special needs who was complying with orders: witnesses

The family of Ezell Ford, 25, say that a cop shot him three times in the back while he was on the ground Monday night. They organized a protest outside the LAPD headquarters for Sunday.
~

Of course, I wouldn’t know where to go to hear him comment on it. So to say, as he did, that I never heard him comment is not to say that he hasn’t. He apparently is not bright enough to understand this fact of life.

Akzed on August 15, 2014 at 9:22 AM

The most important business in this Nation–or any other nation, for that matter-is raising and training children. If those children have the proper environment at home, and educationally, very, very few of them ever turn out wrong. I don’t think we put enough stress on the necessity of implanting in the child’s mind the moral code under which we live.

The fundamental basis of this Nation’s law was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings which we get from Exodus and St. Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul. I don’t think we emphasize that enough these days.

If we don’t have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally wind up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the state.

- President Harry S. Truman’s Address Before the Attorney General’s Conference on Law Enforcement Problems
February 15, 1950

ITguy on August 15, 2014 at 9:25 AM

Of course, I wouldn’t know where to go to hear him comment on it. So to say, as he did, that I never heard him comment is not to say that he hasn’t. He apparently is not bright enough to understand this fact of life.

Akzed on August 15, 2014 at 9:22 AM

Huh? Not sure what this means. You haven’t heard who comment on what? Which dope is not bright enough o understand what fact of life?

Monkeytoe on August 15, 2014 at 9:27 AM

Monkeytoe on August 15, 2014 at 9:27 AM


“I don’t see anybody from the libertarian or Republican movement who talk about small government and overstepping American citizens’ rights coming either on camera or social media to talk about this situation,” CNN contributor L.Z. Granderson said on Thursday.

Akzed on August 15, 2014 at 10:11 AM

The fact of life part is, just because Mr. A hasn’t heard Mr. B play the trombone doesn’t mean that Mr. B doesn’t play the trombone.

Akzed on August 15, 2014 at 10:30 AM

Akzed on August 15, 2014 at 10:30 AM

got it. thanks. Just didn’t understand the comment originally. Sometimes, when you get into commenting farther down in the thread, you move past the original post into other issues and even forget what the original post was about. then, when someone comments on the original post without making it explicit, it can seem like a non-sequitur. My mistake.

Monkeytoe on August 15, 2014 at 10:45 AM

verbaluce on August 14, 2014 at 5:12 PM

Actually you have been pretty incorrect on all of your assumptions – the left’s position has universally been from a race angle – in fact that is the only reason Holder has come in – because he is a racist and therefore that is all he knows.

The debate regarding police powers and activities has been long standing – on the right. That you have failed to notice that is not surprising.

What I find even more interesting – though I need to study it more as opposed to just looking at it anecdotally – is that there is an increasing gulf between how police departments react and sheriff departments act. The sheriffs are accountable to the people. The police are not. I think we need to start electing police department heads too – that would help a great deal to balance the game.

Now I would speculate the left would hate that – because police departments desire for gun control would evaporate overnight – and for the left, even their professed but actually not real concern for the welfare of minority populations, will not overcome that.

Zomcon JEM on August 15, 2014 at 11:18 AM

Comment pages: 1 2 3