Opinion How ‘Defund the Police’ Fizzled

19:15  29 september  2020
19:15  29 september  2020 Source:   nationalreview.com

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‘Defund the police” this summer took its place among the worst political slogans ever devised, right up there with “Nasty woman” and “Mondale ’84.” Defund . . . the police? Meaning zero out their funding, or even substantially reduce it? Shut them down, or at least hamstring them by taking away resources? How would diminishing the ranks of public-safety guardians benefit anyone but rich people who can afford to hire private security, and in many cases already do? Did anyone consult with the poor about this idea? The sentiment is so breathtakingly vacuous that it was pumped up mainly by Park Slope’s keyboard commies, furiously banging out revolutionary fan-fiction exclusively for the entertainment of fellow Salon readers.

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a man standing in front of a crowd: A demonstrator holds a sign during a protest against racial inequality at Lafayette Park in Washington, D.C., June 6, 2020. © Lucas Jackson/Reuters A demonstrator holds a sign during a protest against racial inequality at Lafayette Park in Washington, D.C., June 6, 2020.

Yet the idea was so fashionable among the radicals, columnists, and talking heads who don’t live in high-crime areas that, for a moment, even Joe Biden was momentarily beguiled by it. Asked by a left-wing activist, “Do we agree that we can redirect some of the [police] funding?” Biden replied, “Yes, absolutely.” (Biden had been musing about how “the last thing you need is an up-armored Humvee coming into a neighborhood. It’s like the military invading,” as though Americans had spent the month of June debating the wisdom of police Humvee usage. As president, Joe would handle the difficult questions by answering different, easier questions.) Yet, when Biden came to his senses he emphasized that he didn’t want to defund the police.

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It’s now clear that the coast-to-coast conflagrations of the summer were not an urgent call for police reform but merely an extended temper tantrum. A serious look at police reform would begin with the question: Why do American police kill so many citizens — black, white, and other — and what can we do to reduce the violence? Few  expressed any interest in that matter, though the papers decided to capitalize the adjective “black” and the Poetry Foundation and Princeton volunteered that they were white supremacists, at least until a government inquiry forced the latter institution to admit that this was meaningless posturing for woke points, not to be construed as an admission of race discrimination because that would be illegal.

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“Defund the police” got rolling in Minneapolis, and that’s where it . . . stopped rolling, fell over, and got trampled by the billion-footed beast of reality. A New York Times report sadly informs us that the Mini Apple is “a case study in how idealistic calls for structural change can falter.” Because it would have been ideal for residents of black neighborhoods to wake up one morning and discover they no longer had police protection from criminals thanks to the efforts of parlor radicals.

In a bout of June lunacy, 13 days after the death of George Floyd most of the Minneapolis City Council swore an oath to disband the city police department. Councilors said figuring out what would replace the police could come later. A Timesreport drolly informed the world that “council members said . . . they did not yet have specific plans to announce for what a new public safety system for the city would look like,” proving again that the Parable of the Underpants Gnome(devised in 1998) continues to be one of the most useful of all political heuristics. In this case, the U.G. thinking was as follows:

Re-fund, don't defund, the police

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  1. Eliminate police
  2. ??????
  3. Citizens live peacefully and without fear of either cops or criminals.

Those same Minneapolis pols gravely “promised to develop plans by working with the community,” which is a municipal variant of the answer given by every Democratic presidential candidate at every debate, ever, when pressed to consider some thorny international problem: “We have to work with our allies on this.” It’s like watching a football coach whose playbook contains exactly one page, the one that describes how to punt. “We, the leaders elected by the people to manage things, have absolutely no clue! We’re taking suggestions, though. Got any ideas, people?” It’s lucky your mechanic doesn’t think this way: “I don’t know why your car won’t start, ma’am, maybe you can help me? That’ll be $73.50.”

Given that only 40 percent of residents (and 35 percent of black residents) think the police force should even be reduced, Minneapolis decided not to return to a Hobbesian state of nature where each citizen was on his own. In August, the city’s Charter Commission blocked even a watery and vague police reform proposal (cops to be replaced by a “Department of Community Safety & Violence Prevention” dedicated to “a holistic, public health-oriented approach”) from appearing on the November ballot. According to the Times, even in early June, several city councilors had qualms about such an absurd gesture as supporting police abolition. But with the city burning, members decided it would be a nice gesture to a couple of radical groups to express solidarity, regardless of what the average person wanted; rank-and-file citizens are not the ones out rampaging, after all. The City Council was evidently shocked that their announcement received nationwide attention since, like Princeton’s white-supremacy confession, it was obvious bushwa posturing. “I was surprised and was overwhelmed by it,” councilor Phillipe Cunningham, described in the paper as an “unabashed Black progressive,” admitted to the Times. “A big lesson learned for me was to be mindful of the language and words we used and how it can be interpreted.” Ya think? Another councilor, Andrew Johnson, sheepishly told the Times that the pledge to which he solemnly swore in June was valid only “in spirit,” not by the letter. Oh. Even when it comes to their most notable and sacred avowals, leftist activists are saying we shouldn’t take them literally. You will pardon me if I don’t take them seriously either.

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When the death of George Floyd led within days to calls for abolishing the police, it was as though headlines reading, “Truck overturned on I-80” led to calls to shut down the trucking industry. Should a horrible incident cause the shutdown of an institution without which society cannot function? You have to be a progressive intellectual to think this way.

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