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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Democratic Proposals of Peace With Police Are Distorted By Republicans Into A "War On Police"

Of course, most police officers are doing commendable public service in a difficult and sometimes dangerous job. As a general matter, especially since the Reagan administraation, it is not Republicans but Democrats who are champions of those who devote their lives to public service, the protection of communities, the defense of justice for all. Just as Republicans like to brand themselves as fiscally responsible when they repeatedly run up irresponsible deficits with their war adventures and giveaways to the rich while dismantling the rules and public investments on which fiscal solvency depend, so too Republicans like to brand themselves as defenders of "law and order" when they repeatedly champion the lawlessness and disorder of gun violence, institutional bigotry, rape culture, and corrupt unaccountability for abusive officers and departments.

Nothing could be clearer: It is those who deny the danger to democracy represented by the ongoing militarization of policing, it is those who deny the violation of civil rights facilitated by non-accountable, un-representative, ill-trained (in de-escalation, sensitivity, civics) officers, it is those who deny the injustice of racial profiling, disparate sentencing, patterns of bias and brutality in individual officers and departments who are in fact undermining and insulting good police who uphold the law, support their communities, save lives and ameliorate conflicts, defend rights (including rights to assembly and protest), ensure domestic tranquility by pretending that bad cops are inevitable or the norm when they are not and should never be allowed to be.

Just as it is not true that there is some rhetorical "War On Police" taking place just because there has been legitimate critique of unacceptable and factually documented abuses, neither is it true that there is a practical "War On Police" in the streets. (Yesterday's endorsement of the belligerent bigot Donald Trump by the powerful Fraternal Order of Police reveals the suicidal genocidal white-supremacist strain in too much official police culture, a strain which every well-meaning and sensible defender of the indispensable work of the police in a sustainable equitable diverse accountable consensual society of laws must reject and resist.) Contrary to ratings-attracting mis-informational media sensationalism and gore-soaked television dramas, there are many occupations in industrial settings that are as or more dangerous than policing that are not thought of as hazardous in the least. Most police offers never shoot their firearms outside of training settings in their entire careers. And like violent crime more generally, violence faced by police officers has also long been in decline -- even as reactionary paranoid-aggressive narratives of noble police as armies of occupation in barbarian war zones that happen to be the communities they are meant to serve and protect have proliferated ever more deliriously.

I do not doubt that the ready availability of guns on the street contributes to the feeling of danger many police officers feel -- some, no doubt, legitimately so -- on the job, and this is one more reason why common sense gun safety and licensing regulations are so necessary. (And we all know that it is the Republicans, bought and paid for by the blood-money of the gun lobby who have obstructed sane gun laws proposed by Democrats since the Johnson administration.)

So, too, it is ever more obvious that the failed racist war on drugs (in its present incarnation inaugurated by the Republican Nixon administration and amplified surreally by the Reagan administration, as even now Democratic efforts to address sentencing disparities, over-incarceration, legalize medical and recreational cannabis use, and shift from punishment to healthcare responses to drug abuse are obstructed and de-funded and pilloried by so-called "law and order" Republicans) exacerbated longstanding structural inequities and irrational passions in ways that create incomparably more problems than they address.

Finally, the need to shift in general from punitive to harm-reduction policy making has never been more obvious... even as the fearful and cruel and too often profitable parochialism, defensiveness, and paranoia that sustains punitive policy and disdains harm-reduction policy leads Republicans over and over and over to deride the "weakness" and "emotionalism" of Democratic proposals based on factually documented effective programs emphasizing treatment over incarceration, commonsense gun control over terrorizing open-carry and stand your ground vigilantism, schools over jails, social support over militarization, flexible over draconian compulsory sentencing, community policing over occupation, cultures of accountability over wagon-circling impunity, representative policing over profiling and surveillance, de-escalation and sensitivity training over harassment.

(PS: Yes, my dear sweet unreliable fauxvolutionary purity cabaret frenemies, I do know the Democratic Party doesn't have clean hands in this history and in the present distress -- but I also know where almost everybody who is working legislatively in the service of reforms in the spirit and direction of the assumptions and aspirations I express here can be found as well as where all the most conspicuous and relentless foes of this vision and efforts compatible with it can be found. The difference between Democrats and Republicans matters more than the difference between Democratic legislation and the ideal outcomes I endorse for good reasons as a democratic eco-socialist anti-white-supremacist feminist queer academic. If you don't know who is who, you need to get an education before instructing this lifelong activist and educator about my sad sold-out political deficiencies... and if you actually do know who is who, and I believe most of you know enough to know better, and yet pretend it doesn't matter, what you need to do is grow a goddamn conscience and a backbone you privileged lazy self-indulgent self-congratulatory assholes. If you can't walk and chew gum at the same time, if you can't distinguish compromise from corruption, hypocrisy, or capitulation, if you can't grasp that politics is not aesthetics, if you can't work for the lesser evil that takes us a step down the road and sets the stage toward the next step toward the greater good, go peddle your moonshine elsewhere, this incomparably stupid disgusting year of Trump and Sanders has forever destroyed my patience for fauxvolutionary nonsense.)

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