By Nathan Barton
PragerU, the growing internet university, contains a wealth of informative, short (5 minutes or so) lectures presented in a clear, concise, and entertaining manner I only wish that high school teachers of government, current affairs, civics, and history could learn and use.
But PragerU’s recent lecture by retired Sheriff David Clarke of Wisconsin doesn’t get it right. Instead he sets up a series of strawmen. He demolishes them, but lets the real heart of the matter get past. And in doing so, does a great disservice to his profession, the public, liberty, and PragerU.
He argues that “cops are the good guys,” and he presents his case well. But he does NOT prove his argument. Indeed, he overstates his argument, making matters worse.
Honestly, even if 99.9% of cops were “good guys,” the rottenness in the profession – especially when combined with the fact that the vast majority in the profession are constantly shielding the bad guys, means that Mr. Clarke’s argument is wrong. Cops are often NOT the good guys: they are all too often the bad guys.He is correct: cops are not perfect. But his claim that anyone who distrusts the police, who is critical of the police, or who claims that some cops are racist demands and expects that police be perfect is just plain wrong. Indeed, it is the advocates for the police, the police unions, and the police themselves who all too often seem to claim that cops are perfect. And are willing to hide the misdeeds of some cops, citing the brotherhood of arms and the need to defend one another. Again, not all cops are bad. But too many are.
An example of that is found at Freedom Outpost, reporting on a recent incident involving a police chief. The guy did not suddenly become a scumbag: he did not suddenly flip out. He has been an evil man for years, and for years, his colleagues hid the truth. They covered for him. This is not a one in a million situation. Nor even a one in a thousand. This is revealed daily, across the nation. From the smallest towns and counties to the very largest urban police forces, we daily hear of corrupt, brutal, callous, cowardly, and lazy cops. And as often as once or twice a day, a cop needlessly kills an innocent person who was not really a threat to cops, others, or even themselves.
It is definitely not all the cops’ fault, of course. And again, Mr. Clarke makes this point well. But he blames ONLY “the politicians and the activists.” In particular, he singles out Black Lives Matter. He is not only able to do this (being black himself), he is fully justified by the record of BLM in doing so. But just because BLM is way overboard in criticizing police does not mean that ALL criticism of police is unjustified.
Ditto for politicians. Political actions do indeed make life miserable for police, just as they do for all of us. A big part of the problem with the behavior of cops in this country does lie squarely at the feet of the politicians for which they work. But again, it is not the only factor. Trying to enforce bad laws, and not being allowed to enforce “good” (valid) laws, is tough, and the politicians (and their supporting bureaucrats) are to blame.
But again, the number of bad cops, and the actions of those bad cops, are NOT solely the fault of politicians.
Or even of the system. The system cops are supporting is more than flawed: it is broken and deadly. Police are, after all, the penultimate method of ensuring the survival and power of the State. (The ultimate is, of course, the military. If we are even proper in dividing the two branches in modern times, including the Fifty States.) The State is supposed to have a monopoly of force in its jurisdiction. And the police are the actual people and organization which apply that force. Every law, no matter whether it is civil or criminal in nature, ultimately depends on someone using a fist, a club, a gun or some other weapon to enforce it. And since the system that passes those laws is corrupt, it comes as no surprise that the police doing that enforcement are also largely corrupt.
Indeed, the root of the problem of bad cops is government itself. Politicians and their ilk (lobbyists, activists, campaign contributors, special interest groups, etc.) taint even the most ethical of police officers. The illegitimacy of government just ensures that the taint is deeper, darker, and more difficult to avoid. When the power of government rests upon an immoral foundation (as it does), those who enforce that power are unlikely to avoid or overcome that evil.
When combined with the culture of paranoia, tribalism, loyalty overriding every moral imperative, and poor leadership, management, and training, it is a receipt for disaster. And that is exactly what we have here in the Fifty States.
We could point out the poor quality of the hiring and training process, the corrosive effect of their normal duties (not even considering the paranoia engendered by their daily routines and contacts), and other factors that create bad cops. But that does not excuse Mr. Clarke’s efforts to whitewash the entire corps.
not all cops are bad.
Some are worse than others, without doubt, but they’re all “bad” in that they’ve taken an oath to enforce illegitimate laws along side legitimate ones.
Robert Higgs says it well: https://www.reddit.com/r/quotes/comments/3zvx8r/there_are_no_good_cops_robert_higgs/
Not nearly as many as people think. Even if they are not personally aggressing against other people, they still tolerate and accept the aggression of their comrades. (As well as conceal their actions which are often intolerable even by people who accept the “right” of cops to aggress against others. If by “good” you mean, “less poisoned,” relative to the rest, perhaps. But the old adage (a rotten apple spoils the barrel) still applies.
There are a few good apples…
How do you define that? Anyone who wants to control the lives and property of others is an aggressor, evil. Anyone who works for the state is an aggressor, so I don’t see how any can be “good apples.”