Rand Paul Opportunistic—and Wrong—on Race
The Ferguson Riots – Ilana Mercer distinguishes between divergent discourses
Police brutality? Yes! Militarization of the police force? You bet! “A Government of Wolves”? Yes again! “The Rise of the Warrior Cop”? No doubt! But racism? Nonsense on stilts! So why have some libertarians applied this rhetoric to the murder-by-cop of black teenager Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri? The same people who would argue against color-coded hate-crime legislation—and rightly so, for a crime is a crime, no matter the skin pigment of perp or prey—would have you believe that it is possible to differentiate a racist from a non-racist shooting or beating.
Predictably, BBC News had taken a more analytical look at the “unrest in Ferguson,” pointing out that liberal outrage had centered on what the left sees as racial injustice. Libertarian anger, conversely, connected “the perceived overreaction by militarized local law enforcement to a critique of the heavy-handed power of government.”
As its libertarian stand-bearers, the BBC chose from the ranks of establishment, libertarian-leaning conservatives. Still, the ideological bifurcation applied by the BBC was sound. With some exceptions, libertarians have consistently warned about a police state rising; the left has played at identity politics, appealing to its unappeasable base.
As refreshingly clever as some of its commentators are, the BBC is inexact. The very embodiment of political opportunism, Sen. Rand Paul has managed to straddle liberal and libertarian narratives, vaporizing as follows:
“… Given the racial disparities in our criminal justice system, it is impossible for African-Americans not to feel like their government is particularly targeting them. … Anyone who thinks that race does not still, even if inadvertently, skew the application of criminal justice in this country is just not paying close enough attention.”
The senator from Kentucky is considered “one of the leading figures in today’s libertarian movement.” Even so, on matters libertarian, Rand Paul is a political pragmatist; not the purist his father is. Alas, Rand has imbibed at home some unfortunate, crowd-pleasing habits—the leftist penchant for accusing law enforcement of racism. In 2012, in particular, during the debate between Republican presidential front-runners, in Manchester, New Hampshire, Ron Paul lurched to the left, implicating racism in the unequal outcomes meted by American justice:
“How many times have you seen the white rich person get the electric chair?” he asked. “If we really want to be concerned with racism … we ought to look at the drug laws.”
Laws that prevent the individual from purchasing, selling, ingesting, inhaling and injecting drugs ought to be repudiated and repealed on the grounds that they are wrong, not racist. But statism is not necessarily racism. Drug laws ensnare more blacks, because blacks are more likely to violate them by dealing in drugs or engaging in violence around commerce in drugs, not necessarily because cops are racists.
The following statements are, I believe, not mutually exclusive: cops deal with the reality of crime. The culture of US cops is that of a craven disregard for American lives.
By all means, argue against laws prohibiting victimless “crimes” on the ground that these disproportionally ensnare blacks. But do not err in accusing all cops of targeting blacks, when the former are entrusted with enforcing the law, and the latter violate the law in disproportion to their numbers in the general population.
The left-liberal trend continued on the libertarian Lewrockwell.com where white sympathy with the police was conflated with racism: “This doesn’t mean that racism is not also involved [in Ferguson]. Polls show that a majority of white Americans are content with the police justification for the killing.”
Could it be that ordinary Americans maligned as racists are honestly waiting for more information, or suffer an authoritarian, submissive mindset; are ignorant about police state USA or have simply experienced black crime first hand, or are fearful of experiencing “black-on-white-violence” in all it ferocity?
Clearly, there are many reasons for the acquiescence of whites in what might seem to many of us—myself included—as an unjustified use of lethal, police force.
Riding the same old racism ass was libertarian extraordinaire John Stossel, who managed to cram into an otherwise reasonable column a nod to the irrational racism meme. “Yes, centuries of white people abusing the civil liberties of blacks have left many blacks resentful of police power.” Et tu, Stossel? Here, perpetual black rage against innocent whites is legitimized by harking back to times bygone. Is there a statute of limitations on Honky’s perceived trespasses? This collectivist case for group guilt in perpetuity conjures up South Africa. There, apartheid has become the root-cause excuse, offered up by lily white liberals, for the dysfunction of many young black South Africans, who were born well after the end of apartheid.
While ambient lawlessness is loathsome, the black community’s resistance to a police force sporting a militarized mindset and armaments to match is worthy of lionisation. Were Michael Brown one of the 2,151 whites slain by police “over the span of more than a decade”—his community of submissives would be silent, rather than protesting on the streets.
In absolute numbers, more whites than blacks are culled by cop, confirms politifact.com. Rand Paul is right and righteous to warn of the universal, indiscriminate “militarization of law enforcement,” coupled with “an erosion of civil liberties and due process that allows the police to become judge and jury—national security letters, no-knock searches, broad general warrants, pre-conviction forfeiture.”
Where, then, is that black politician who would break from his racial orbit and recognize that, black, brown and white, we are all in this together? He’s not in the White House.
MSNBC host Al Sharpton is that fellow whose intelligible spoken English is confined to the words “racial discrimination.” The country’s second-leading race agitator has been deputized by its first as liaison to the White House in Ferguson. With his choice of Sharpton as point man on the ground, President Barack Obama, who was to usher in an America in which “ebony and ivory live together in perfect harmony,” is stoking more strife.
Like two pimps in a pod, Sharpton and Obama have collaborated to keep racial grievance going.
ILANA MERCER is a paleolibertarian writer based in the United States. She pens WND’s longest-standing column, “Return to Reason” and is a Fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies. She is a Quarterly Review Contributing Editor. Ilana’s latest book is Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons from America from Post-Apartheid South Africa. Her website is www.IlanaMercer.com. She blogs at www.BarelyaBlog.com.