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Opinion | Morgan Liddick: What do protestors really want?

Morgan Liddick
On Your Right

To paraphrase the Roman emperor Caligula, “Oh, that the mob had one voice.” Then we could discuss the only question that matters after the paroxysm of violence marking George Floyd’s murder: “What is it you want?”

The answer would matter only if it involved actionable items, not idealistic goals like “end racism,” which would involve the sort of thought control that George Orwell would recognize. Or “eliminate white privilege,” so marvelously adaptable that it can, like Procrustes’ bed, be fitted to any potential occupant. 

Nor are all concrete suggestions valid. Take the looney “defund the police” seen on many placards carried by apparently well-meaning young folks who seem woefully unprepared for the inevitable results. I doubt 1 in 50 of them have had any sort of firearms training nor that 1 in a 100 is carrying, open or concealed.

“Defund” has its adherents. Take Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who in a recent press conference said he would “defund the police” to the tune of several hundred millions of dollars using the savings to “do more for the black community.” In other words, pour more money on it, repeating what has failed for 50 long years.

With cops out of the picture, who would solve crimes? Ilhan Omar, who wants to eliminate the Minneapolis police, doesn’t know. But “New Republic” author Alex Pareene does. He tweets “Pay local bar bouncers and Antifa to patrol neighborhoods.” So police won’t oppress you, thugs will.

The outcome is predictable. We had a preview a few days back: Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot pleading to businesses in the aftermath of the burning and looting that followed major demonstrations there. “Don’t abandon Chicago,” she asked. She received reassuring platitudes in response, but let’s wait and see: Studies done on Los Angeles neighborhoods most affected by the 1992 riots are not encouraging.

Instead of idealist fantasies, let’s have simpler goals we can all agree on, like no more Derek Chauvins murdering George Floyds. Goals that are positive, concrete and measurable make real change achievable. 

Let’s begin by agreeing that Derek Chauvin shouldn’t have been a cop. There were far too many complaints against him indicating a quick and evil temper. Ditto with Tou Thao, another of the four officers now charged in Floyd’s death. Why were they retained after these serious complaints, including an assault complaint against Thao? Why weren’t they benched and scrutinized after one or two of such? If both avoided censure because — as seems the case — the police department protected them, why was that allowed? If they had high-ranking “friends,” those friends need to go. If it is because they hid behind “conditional immunity,” state and local laws offering that need rewriting.

Sooner or later, we’ll come to local and state officials. It is they, after all, who hire the managers of all public departments. It is they who set the tone for their hirelings and tolerate or punish nonperformance and malfeasance. Many of those now truckling to the mob are doing so out of a desire to deflect attention away from this fact, in hopes that their constituents will never add two and two, and decide that those who tolerated and enabled brutish and illegal behavior must find other employment. This time, they must not succeed in their diversions.

In addition to these achievable and scalable results, appropriate for a people who wish to continue to rule themselves, we might discuss how we achieve the only sort of equality possible in a freedom-based society:  equality before the law, which assumes equal treatment of all by those charged with enforcement, from policemen to prosecutors and judges.

This is trickier, because it calls not only for equal treatment of those with limited means, whose equality rests on respect for process, but also for the elimination of impunity for those with special connections or famous names. Since this impunity differentially favors the political class, whose action will be required to make changes to legislation, constant pressure and oversight will have to be maintained in the face of unwillingness to change masked by diversions and distractions undertaken by those who have proven themselves masters of these dark political arts. Steadfastness, reason and patience will be required for progress here.  

But finally, these efforts will be more rewarding than the mindless pursuit of perfectionist mirages spun by politicians interested in protecting only themselves. Follow these, and in a few years we’ll be asking ourselves “How could this have happened?” Again.

Morgan Liddick’s column “On Your Right” publishes Tuesdays in the Summit Daily News. Liddick spent 27 years working for the U.S. Foreign Service, primarily living abroad. He also spent 12 years teaching U.S. history and Western civilization at community colleges in Colorado and Texas. He lived in Summit County as recently as 2015. Contact him at mcliddick@hotmail.com.


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