Charles Barkley (via Legal Insurrection):
We have to be really careful with the cops, man, because if it wasn’t for the cops, we’d be living in the wild-wild west in our neighborhoods. I think we can’t pick out certain incidents that don’t go our way and act like the cops are all bad. I hate when we do that. Think about it, you know how bad some of these neighborhoods would be if it wasn’t for the cops? [Emphasis added.]
One of the underrated movies of the 1990s was John Milius’ Geronimo, starring among others Gene Hackman as Gen. George Crook. Gen. Crook, by all accounts a skilled Indian fighter, was also a vocal critic of government duplicity in dealing with the Indians after their defeat and surrender, even going so far as contriving a court case that led to the recognition of their habeas corpus rights.
The movie shows Crook in a conversation with Geronimo, explaining to him, in essence: “The regular army is the best friend the Indian ever had. The most egregious atrocities against the Indians, like the Sand Creek Massacre, were committed, not by the Army, but by settlers organized into volunteer militias. What do you think they would do to you if we weren’t here to protect you?”
I recalled this exchange while watching the recent rioting in Ferguson, MO and elsewhere, noting with some irony that while the protestors were demonstrating their “fear” of the police by taunting them to their faces while breaking all manner of laws, the police themselves were not only conspicuously failing to protect the lives and property of Ferguson residents but busy preventing whites from defending themselves.
A case in point: a group of former soldiers with the Oath Keepers organization volunteered to provide security to Ferguson businesses last week, stationing themselves on rooftops overlooking the street. But the police ordered them to disperse while allowing a group of armed blacks to provide a similar service to one business.
A second case in point: a driver attempted to drive through an intersection being illegally blocked by protestors. He didn’t injure anyone, but the protestors surrounded his car and through a brick through his rear window. That strikes me as a circumstance justifying the lawful use of deadly force in self defense, but the driver was arrested merely for displaying his weapon in response.
When I combine these with the George Zimmerman and Theodore Wafer cases, I have reached the point where I am less afraid of having to deal with black criminality (I’m well-armed and a pretty good shot) than I am of what happens when prosecutors show up second guessing every self-defense decision I had to make. It’s pretty clear that the police are neither in theory nor in fact capable of protect me, only capable of arresting me once I protect myself.
Thought experiment: what would happen if the police disappeared?
In my own case, probably nothing. Phi’s lily-white little burg is a disproportionate home to, um, a powerful demographic who by non-transparent means are able to issue the necessary threats and bribes and make problems go away. Hence, our police force is able to do its job and keep our community free from aggravation by both the criminal underclass and Eric Holder. So, if the police disappeared, more of us would carry guns, but life would likely go on as before once the word got out.
But other communities are not so fortunate. Barkley’s “wild west” analogy is more true than he realizes. It’s not just that blacks would start shooting each other even more than they currently do (if that is even possible). It’s that at some threshold of aggravation, citizens would organize and arm themselves and take care of the problem. And no, it wouldn’t be pretty, or just, or especially scrupulous about non-combatants anymore than John Chivington was. But it would be effective in a way that our present social and law-enforcement policies are not.