More broadly, I’d like to think that people on the political right can recognize that what happened to Floyd was outright murder. And that when millions of Black citizens testify that policing is arbitrary, discriminatory and too frequently deadly, we should listen to them and reform policing accordingly. I’d also like to think that people on the political left can understand that efforts to defund or disempower the police have the real-world effect of consigning vulnerable communities to greater violence, insecurity and poverty.
I don’t know why it should be hard for people to hold both ideas in their minds at once. But we’re becoming a country that has a hard time holding any balanced views.
Gail: Listening to our mayoral candidates debate this issue — and hey, I want extra credit for listening since it was on Zoom — I’ve heard a couple of the candidates call for a reduction in the size of New York’s police force, while using the money to build up civilian intervention — with social workers and mental health experts.
What do you think of that?
Bret: Full credit for your Zoom masochism, Gail.
I can see the value of using social workers in many of the situations in which the police are now called, like middle-of-the-night marital altercations. But I think it’s naïve to imagine it’s going to work when it comes to problems like dealing with mentally ill, potentially violent, homeless people on subways.
Force, or the threat of it, is part of maintaining social order, which is why I also think it’s foolish for New York State’s attorney general to push for a law that would put drastic limits on the police use of force, with legal penalties for cops who exceed them. Sounds good in theory, but in practice it’s a recipe for cops to be afraid to do their jobs. Crime will be back to 1980s levels in no time.
Speaking of crime, thoughts on Republicans refusing to go along with a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection?
Gail: That was fascinating. You could see how Republicans of good will were totally on board with a bipartisan investigation — and then suddenly got the rug pulled out from under them by their leaders.