We needn’t endorse the means of desperate people to acknowledge their ends are worth fighting for.
Elizabeth Nolan Brown
I agree with Robby Soave that non-defensive violence is not a good solution, both for moral and tactical reasons. But I nonetheless find myself filled with empathy for the people—rioters? protesters?— who have been engaging in acts of violence against police property, corporate property, and police themselves this afternoon and evening in Baltimore. That’s not to say I condone their acts, but I find them understandable. Resistance isn’t always rational, nor necessarily kind. Or, to say it another way, desperate people do desperate things. And it is very clear that there are a lot of people in this country in a state of desperation over our unaccountable, ever-encroaching, fee-mongering, violence-first police force and its myriad biases.
I was never a police hater or even much of a police skeptic, you guys. Sure, I believed in bad apples and bad laws—especially concentrated on/around bad policy, like the drug war—but I still believed the vast majority of individual cops and law enforcement agents were basically good. And they still may be, but it doesn’t really matter in the face of a system that’s so thoroughly stacked, at all levels, against the vulnerable and disenfranchised, as well as toward the perpetuation of its own power and unaccountability. Covering “criminal justice” in various ways for the past year and a half at Reason—from the crafting of legislation aimed at cracking down on criminals of various sorts and the swelling/moral squalor of America’s jails and prisons to individual instances of police abuse and the “general warrants” that are vice laws … I don’t necessarily think most cops or prosecutors are bad people, but they’re fucked (as are we all) by a sweeping, self-perpetuating schemata that knows but one problem and one solution: bad guys and more (thorough) more (prisons) more (funds) more (fear) more (MORE) law enforcement. Continue reading