What ‘defund police’ really means; or, time to take the training wheels off of our political thinking

What ‘defund police’ really means; or, time to take the training wheels off of our political thinking
Seattle protesters set fire to SPD cars, break windows in downtown Seattle (Image: KING screen grab)

President Trump made brief remarks at a stop in Wisconsin on Monday, as the Democratic National Convention kicked off “in Milwaukee.”  “Milwaukee” is in scare quotes because, due to COVID-19, there’s no actual, traditional convention happening in Milwaukee this week.

The Republican convention will be a little more traditional in Charlotte, N.C. next week, as the delegates will gather there rather than doing the convention business remotely.  Nevertheless, both conventions are bowing to limitations imposed by the virus this year.  The festive atmosphere of a mass gathering, the parties, the numerous sideline events, the attendance of PACs and the media and the state party dignitaries – all have gone by the wayside in 2020.

That seems to fit well with the general sense of unease and the waiting for the next shoe to drop, as the spooky footsteps of 2020 pound, like the thumping heart of Hill House, outside in the dark.  Balloons and raucous crowds would be a little forced this time around.

The reason for that is something Trump focused unerringly on in his speech in Wisconsin.  Katie Pavlich captured it well in her headline at Townhall:

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President Trump Presents America With a Choice: The Mob or Freedom

Pavlich quotes from Trump’s address: “Voters of Wisconsin face a simply choice, do you want to be ruled by the radical left mob or do you want to stand tall as free men and women in the greatest country on earth and keep it that way.  Joe Biden is just a Trojan horse for socialism … They will turn every city into a Portland and they wouldn’t mind.”

Considering that Democrats have yet to condemn the tactics and goals of the “black blocs” agitators in Portland, Seattle, Chicago, New York, and elsewhere, and that the cities where the black blocs ae flourishing are all run by Democrats who have encouraged their antics, there is much justice in Trump’s remarks.

This isn’t news to most readers.  But in the past week, the proposition Trump alludes to has been framed for us as never before, with a clarity there’s no mistaking.  The lens to see it through is that of the call to “defund police.”

And the call to defund police is the one we need to remove the training wheels in pondering.

It isn’t good enough, in America’s perilous situation, to perceive only that some very foolish-sounding city councils are voting to drastically cut police forces and funding for them.  To let the thinking stop there is to set our communities up for defeat.

The city councils are touting vague plans to replace police with squads of community relations specialists, such as counselors for domestic violence situations and for misdemeanors among homeless people.  But to accept that concept at face value is also to think in a limited way, with training wheels on.

Setting aside whether such an idea would work or not – and first there’d have to be a definition of what “working” means – the questions must arise: where is the evidence that any of the radical leftists involved actually have a structured plan for this?  Where are the counselors?  Where are the specialists?  Who are they, what are their bona fides, what is the vision for their ministrations?

There is absolutely zero on this.  “Reimagining policing” doesn’t come with an executable plan anyone will get to inspect and vote on.  At most, it comes with sophomore seminar slogans and bullet-point outlines.

Instead, “reimagining police” is very much about replacing police: it’s not about leaving the streets with no representatives of government authority on them.  But the “defund police” effort wants to install as a replacement something yet undefined, with no fealty to existing law and no accountability to the taxpayers.

That ought to make our blood run cold.  The point of having police organized as they are today is that they are faithful to existing law, and they are accountable to the taxpayers.  That’s what the concept of the “sworn officer” is about: reserving the power to detain and use armed force against citizens to officers who are sworn before all else to abide by and uphold the law.

Americans must take the training wheels off their brains, and understand that the “defund police” effort isn’t ultimately about eliminating the power of the sworn officer.  It’s about replacing him with the UNSWORN.

The point of “reimagining policing” is to decouple armed force in the streets from statute law.  It’s to put the citizen – not the “law officer” and not the government – in the position of perpetual risk.

Laws exist to protect the citizen and constrain and restrain government, and that’s the basis on which we operate police and sheriff forces today.  The “defund police” movement is trying to railroad us into giving up that precious restraint on what our local governments can do to us.

The movement isn’t telling us that, of course.  But it is behaving exactly as such movements always have, whether their storm troops were anarcho-terrorists, Bolsheviks and sons of Bolsheviks, or Nazis.

If you want to understand how the defund police movement views you, Joe and Jane Public, in terms of the rights and dignity you merit before the movement, you can’t do better than to watch the video clips in this thread from a recent incident in Portland.

I apologize in advance for how sickening it is. The attackers in this situation were reportedly BLM black bloc-ers, but they could have been Antifa or members of a lower-profile group as well.  Notice that one of them was parading falsely as a “police” officer, wearing a vest with POLICE on it and purporting to speak with the authority of law enforcement.

(Click through to Twitter for the thread.)

Please read Andy Ngo’s commentary, even if you’ve seen some of the video before.  I haven’t seen any of the TV media report this correctly in all particulars (for example, it appears that the woman who is given the beat-down in one of the videos was not in company with the truck driver who was attacked, and was not a passenger in his vehicle.  But several outlets have reported it that way).

The truck driver who was dragged from his truck, badly beaten, and left bleeding and unconscious as the thug-agitators ransacked his truck and cackled over him was reportedly in the hospital, alive but still unconscious, on Monday morning.  If I see updates to his condition I will post them.

Make no mistake.  This is what the black blocs and the more organized political actors behind them mean to do: to take the sworn officers we know how to deal with – how to trust and hold accountable – off the street, and replace them with armed thugs who see us as prey, and over whom we wield no veto, as a rights-holding public.

But we have to go further and think with even more agility than that.  The Antifa and other black bloc goons we see today are not the “brownshirts” in this scenario.  The ragtag goons’ function is to generate the chaos.  It’s who comes after them that we have to worry about.  That force will be armed and much better organized.

If we accept the “community specialists” gambit at the city councils as having meaning, the force is likely to come in under that seemingly harmless, fluffy-sounding banner.

In that way, it would be similar to the army of proletariat-organizing party songsters and mediators I wrote about (see here, here, and here) when the Obama Justice Department started sending them hither into America’s cities, after the Trayvon Martin shooting and the Michael Brown incident.  Under cover of “mediating” for afflicted local communities, this federal force-recon unit bused in organizers, enabled riots, and smacked city councils and county commissions in the face with lists of radical demands and sudden parades of microphone hogs at hitherto sleepy meetings.

The methodology was Leninist Bolshevism: organized cadre with a plan for subverting and subduing civil society in a precision-executed lightning war.

To assume a similar type of blitzkrieg could not be achieved by “community-specializing” the highly organized follow-on to a gutted police force is to insist on pedaling around forever with those training wheels on our brains.  Under such unassuming cover is exactly how it’s likely to be done.

We can’t afford the training wheels anymore.  Look at the methods of pushing the “defund police” agenda; e.g., attacking innocent passersby in the streets, and standing outside their homes screeching at them and banging loudly on metal in the middle of night.  People who operate that way are not doing all that in order to turn their de facto power in the streets over to a phalanx of good gray therapists in khakis and white coats.  It doesn’t just make you shortsighted to think that’s really their plan.  It makes you something even more obtuse.

There is one more video to watch, as we get ready to remove the training wheels.  It’s this one, which presents the vivid contrast between the black blocs stalking the unwary in downtown Portland, and the men of an average suburban neighborhood who found an incipient Antifa/BLM mob cruising their streets.

I suspect more and more Americans are coming to realize that we will have to choose at some point.  The men in this video don’t pretend to be anything other than what they are: armed citizens defending their homes against a suspicious mob, determined to achieve their goal with as little kinetic force as possible.  They make a serious effort to act responsibly, to not wield their arms dangerously, and to simply send the invading mob on its way, daunted and discouraged from coming back.

That profile is much closer to how we envision the role of the police than anything we see the black blocs doing.  The men in this video didn’t go to someone else’s neighborhood and torment him and his family in his home.  They’re only engaging because there’s a mob invading their home streets.

They’re having to do it because the black blocs are becoming emboldened by the big city mayors hobbling the police and preventing them from doing their jobs.  We can’t ask the police to show up for work where they know thugs won’t be charged for assaulting police officers or resisting arrest (e.g., political moves here and here).  That untenable situation just sets up the police, making them more likely to have to kill or injure people in self-defense.  That is not a light thing for anyone; it’s unconscionable to demand that the police incur even more such deadly decisions as the only alternative to being killed or maimed themselves.

We can’t afford to not think these things through.  Freedom from being ruled, as Trump says, by “the mob” requires taking the training wheels off.  We are being shown in technicolor that there is no such thing as benign despotism, in policing the streets or anything else.  There can’t even be an interval of benign despotism, in which the well-intentioned but foolish get shown the door.

When the black blocs are already sending people to the hospital – and even, as in CHAZ in Seattle, to the morgue – there is no interval in the offing.  There is only bloody, predatory despotism from day one.

It doesn’t matter what the foolish city councilmembers say they intend.  What will come after the sworn-officer police force we recognize today is an unaccountable, non-transparent, unrestrained, unsworn-officer armed force: something we don’t recognize, because so few of us have been taught anything useful about Bolshevism, but that is bent on terrorizing us.

From what he says, it appears that President Trump understands that.  We are not bound by any law to see America destroyed from within by a guerrilla-terrorist force investing Portland or Chicago – and Trump understands that too.

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval Intelligence officer who lives in Southern California, blogging as The Optimistic Conservative for domestic tranquility and world peace. Her articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s Contentions, Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard.