Monday, July 11, 2016
"Murders in Dallas are payback for the epidemic of police violence against blacks." FEE
The Foundation for Economic Education, once a responsible organization promoting individual rights and free markets, now sides with the radical left. Well, these are, after all, what Robert Heinlein called the "Crazy Years."
Humans have a lamentable tendency to think in terms of collectives. It's bad enough when some attribute characteristics to groups that really pertain only to a small but unfortunately prominent subset (e.g. a white racist claims "all blacks are criminals," or a black racist claims "all whites are racists"). Attributing characteristics to a group that really pertain only to some, call this Collectivist Fallacy #1. At least it can be "kinda" defensible, since generalizations about a group can have an element of truth to them. So long as we realize they are generalizations and might not hold in any particular case, we haven't necessarily committed CF#1.
A far worse fallacy is when someone speaks as if the group in question has a single mind, Collectivist Fallacy #2. A group is a set of people, each with a mind. There's no group mind. A single mind can believe or disbelieve, a single mind can want or not want, a single mind can choose one act or another, a single mind can bear guilt or be innocent, A group cannot d any of these things, except to the extent that every individual in the group believes, wants, chooses the thing in question. Groups can't have interests, only individuals can. And groups can't bear guilt or responsibility, only individuals can. Only individuals have minds.
With this in mind, consider one of the latest travesties to come from FEE and the "libertarian" movement, Dan Sanchez, "Digital Content Master" at FEE, has written a remarkably collectivistic diatribe against American police officers, while paying lip service to anti-collectivism. For Sanchez, the murders of Dallas police officers by a fan of the Black Lies Matter Movement was "blowback.."
Here's the problem. Blowback is a negative consequence of an action, an intervention. It is a retaliation, an unintended but predictable response to the intervention. If A does something negative to B, and B responds by attacking A, that's blowback.
For example, many, including Sanchez, argue that Islamist attacks on the West are blowback resulting from foreign policy regarding the Middle East. I think that's mostly wrong, but that's a matter for factual debate. It's not an incoherent position, at least. But contrast this with Sanchez's position on the assassinations of Dallas police officers by a black racist. That cannot be coherently considered blowback.
How could this be blowback? There's no action, no policy, no choice, against which anyone could be "blowing back." What policy choice is it? Who chose it? What the hell action is it to which Sanchez is referring? Oh sure, he rattles on about "the epidemic of police violence against American blacks." There's no such "epidemic" at all. It's a fiction. In fact, only 26% of people shot by police are black, despite the fact that about 50% of murders are committed by blacks. Should we conclude maybe police are shooting a disproportionately small number of blacks? No. Concluding that Sanchez is both a liar and an idiot would put us on safer ground. It's also the case that the vast majority of shootings by police are against armed attackers, The "epidemic" is an epidemic of sensationalized reporting of both justified and not justified shooting incidents. Read the above links if you're skeptical. "Hands up, don't shoot" was a lie. Sanchez perpetuates it.
But never mind the phony epidemic, what about "blowback?" Sanchez treats police as if "the police" is a person, an entity, a single mind, who has chosen to treat blacks (all blacks, of course) a certain way. Hence "blowback." Sanchez commits Collectivist Fallacy #2.
Just to make this clear, when Tamir Rice stupidly threatened police officers with what appeared to be a deadly weapon, and one responded by shooting the dumb bastard,* that wasn't a decision by an entity "the police." And when (unarmed) Walter Scott was stopped for a broken traffic light and then ruthlessly gunned down from behind while running away, that wasn't a policy or decision by "the police." And when a black racist decided to murder whites, and especially white police officers, at random, as a response... it wasn't "blowback." There was no policy decision that resulted in this alleged blowback. By calling this blowback, Sanchez invents a mythical entity "the police," that has a single mind, made a bad decsision, and should have decided differently. The disparate decisions by individual officers in Ohio, South Carolina, Missouri, Baltimore, and elsewhere, become, for Sanchez, a bad decision from a single mind, resulting in predictable blowback in Texas. Bizarrely, he maintains this while lecturing us on the evils of collectivist thinking. Sanchez should cease his collectivist thinking and quite ascribing guilt to abstractions like "the police" and "the state."
Keep in mind that policing in the United States is decentralized. It is organized at the local, county, and state level.There's no real federal police force, and that is as it should be. This decentralization means that it really is incoherent for Sanchez to write as if there's a national policy which has resulted in "blowback." And decentralization of policing is also a problem for those who would like a police state. One of the things that Obama, Lynch, Clinton, Sharpton, et al. (elitist supporters of the Black Lies Matter Movement) clamor for is federal oversight and control of local police, that is, for further destruction of the federal system and separation of powers, and formation of a powerful central government, in place of the current federal government. That's what libertarians like Sanchez are helping promote, another reason I think these "libertarians" who side with the left are dopes.
I'm a libertarian. I believe in individual rights as the supreme political value and end. So it pains me that there's such a dearth of intelligent analysis of the Dallas shootings by libertarians. Today's libertarians exhibit a strange sort of envy of the left. Heaven knows why, but as Gerald Russello puts it, they find it "[m]uch better to don radical-chic outrage against the police, than to support the police and the hard work of rebuilding inner-city neighborhoods where crime, sadly, remains concentrated." Russello was referring to the left, but it fits Sanchez, and FEE, perfectly.
As a libertarian, it frustrates me that I have to go to conservatives -- with whom I differ on some fundamental principles -- to find careful. thoughtful, non-collectivistic application of principles to current events (actual, factual current invents, not made up ones like "the epidemic of police violence against American blacks"). But such is the state of things in the crazy years.
Here are some really good, thoughtful and fact-based, pieces that address the assassinations of police officers in Dallas:
"The Ferguson Effect is Real" - Gerard Russello. Reviews Heather MacDonald's book "The War on Cops" and makes some cogent points in doing so. I should mention I lived in David Dinkins' crime ridden NYC. It was nasty. One acquaintance of mine took it upon himself to rid his apartment building hallways of criminals using a baseball bat and ferocious dog, because the police were ordered not to intervene. Rudy Giulani's "broken window" policing strategy made the city much safer for honest citizens, but was much hated by the left and their libertoonist useful idiots.
"How to Address the Problem of Police Shootings" - David French. This is the most thoughtful piece I've read. French takes the problem of unwarranted shootings seriously, without jumping to unwarranted ideologically driven conclusions. This is the only way we'll ever move forward.
"The Attacks in Dallas Won't be the Last" - Jack Dunphy. Dunphy points out that a fraction of the American population actually celebrates the murders of the Dallas police officers, and encourages more...so more will occur. Thugs like Barack Obama and Black Lies Matter promote, for their own political purposes, the lie that there's an "epidemic of police violence against American blacks." Add Dan Sanchez and FEE to that despicable crowd.
*Footnote: After thinking about it, I wish to expand on my characterization of Rice. Generally speaking, anyone who pulls a gun on police -- or on private citizens -- should expect to be shot. I have no sympathy for Rice. "But wait, it wasn't a real gun." Yes, but it was an Airsoft replica indistinguishable except by close examination -- handling it, basically. And the orange barrel cap that distinguishes Airsoft replicas was removed. There would be no way for police, or anyone else, to distinguish between that and a real gun. Rice knew this. "But what about his family -- don't you care how they must feel?" No, I don't. Had they reacted differently, I would have, but they self-righteously called for the heads of the police and pretended their delinquent was a victim, even though he threatened police. They also sued and received money stolen from taxpayers. I have no sympathy for them. I do have sympathy for the police officers whom Rice threatened, who were forced to use deadly force to defend themselves, and then had their lives disrupted by the BLMM, the Rice family, the MSM, and similar scoundrels.