"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"...doesn't philosophy amount to the sum of all thinkable and unthinkable errors, ceaselessly repeated?"--Jean-Luc Marion

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Monday, June 08, 2020

Kerosene on the Fire

No, not the propaganda attempt to tacitly equate "defund the police" with "Abolish police protection," but the attention it is going to bring to the real proposal, which even NPR reported on this morning:  stop trying to make police the social workers of local government.  As one article I read noted, we don't need people with guns dealing with homeless people and the mentally ill.

Part of the problem of police reform is police unions what protect bad cops and even encourage them to be bad cops; but part of the problem is the demands we make on police, demands they aren't organized to fill.  San Antonio, Texas, about a year ago (IIRC), began a program of police taking homeless people to shelters and places where they could get mental health care.  If we begin to realize we've spent out money in the  wrong places, that we paid for prisons and shut down mental health facilities (that goes back to Reagan, when the homeless problem began to explode in America), that we've asked the police to be afraid of black people (what jury holds them accountable for that?) but to go easy on white people (a white man ran his car into a protest over the weekend, brandished a gun and actually shot a protestor, and the police took him into custody without incident.  George Floyd was handcuffed in the back of a police car when his murderers decided to drag him out on the street and beat him some more, and then put a knee on his neck).

"Defund the police" is actually getting a receptive reading as stories of communities that closed their police departments, to shift the policing to the county and eliminate police unions, are making the rounds.  It would be better for police and society if we stopped asking them to shoot on sight, but also stopped asking them to deal with problems that need treatment, with imprisonment.

Or, as Kamala Harris put it to Meghan McCain:

“So, we really need to understand and reimagine what and how we can actually make and help make communities safe because here’s the bottom line. If you contrast, you know, many communities, which have a heavy presence of police to middle and upper-middle-class suburbs in America, you will not see that presence of police. But, you will see families who have an income that allows them to get through the end of the month. You will see good public schools. You will see people who have access to health care and can afford it. You will see people who have jobs, and to this has to be the conversation which is, how are we going to be smart in achieving what should be our collective goal, which is that all communities are safe and knowing that safe communities are usually safe because they are healthy.”

“That’s how I think about this,” Harris went on. “You know, in many cities in America, over one-third of their city budget goes to the police. So, we have to have this conversation, what are we doing? What about the money going to social services? What about the money going to helping people with job training? What about the mental health issues that communities are being plagued with for which we’re putting no resources? And here’s the other thing, When I talk to law enforcement, they know that they don’t want to be, nor are they skilled to be the ones responding to ones with mental illness or substance abuse or the homeless population, but in many cities, that’s what’s happening because we are not directing those resources, those public resources to where they need to be which is addressing mental health, homelessness, substance abuse so that we don’t have to have a police response because we are smarter.”

So if the Trump campaign wants to talk about defunding the police, I'm all for it.  People are listening now, and what they aren't listening to is all of Trump's dog whistles, the old ones as well as the knew ones.  The old rules don't apply, and while the new ones won't bring about the millenium at last, or even the Age of Aquarius, it's high time for a replacement.


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