For a fleeting moment, Americans of all races, religions, ethnicities, and political persuasions united in outrage over the brutal murder of a fellow American by a police officer we had entrusted to uphold justice and protect the public’s safety. There are few things that infuriate Americans more than injustice and abuse of power, and the sadistic killing of George Floyd as he lay handcuffed on the pavement, helpless and begging for his life, hit that nerve.
Then, just as suddenly, that moment of shared humanity was poisoned by a destructive element in our society that clearly despises America and uses every opportunity to divide Americans against each other. They see America as an irredeemably sick and “systemically racist” society that cannot be reformed, but only abolished.
They cynically turned peaceable assemblies that united Americans into violent riots, killing American citizens, desecrating American shrines, and looting and burning American cities.
One of the Americans murdered in the riots last week was David Dorn, a 77-year old retired St. Louis City police captain. Rioters killed him as he tried to save a friend’s pawn shop, while others live-streamed his death on Facebook. Another was Pat Underwood, a 53-year old Air Force veteran gunned down as he protected the Dellums Federal Building in Oakland. Dorn and Underwood were also Americans of African descent. We should be just as outraged at their deaths, except they don’t fit the narrative of a “systemically racist” America.
Yes, there are racists in our society. There are racists of all colors in every society; it is the baser side of human nature. But no nation has struggled harder to transcend that nature and isolate and marginalize its racists than have Americans. The American Founders placed principles in the Declaration of Independence that they believed would someday produce a nation of free men and women of all races and religions, together enjoying the blessings of liberty and the equal protection of our laws. Lincoln denounced any other sentiments “as having an evil tendency, if not an evil design.”
An evil tendency and an evil design are exactly what the radical left has reintroduced into our society. And it is tearing us apart.
When those we empower to protect our safety and preserve the peace, instead betray that trust and abrogate their responsibility, the retribution must be swift and severe.
The abuse of that trust killed George Floyd. It also killed David Dorn and Pat Underwood. The killers of George Floyd were enabled when the power to uphold the law was turned against a single citizen by a rogue cop. The killers of David Dorn and Pat Underwood were enabled when the power to uphold the law was deliberately withheld from all our citizens by leftist mayors and their politically-appointed police chiefs.
Ironically, those politicians tend to be the same ones who have been zealously arresting peaceful citizens for basking on a public beach or reopening their shops.
Whatever his motive, the killer of George Floyd had 18 complaints for misconduct and one of his accomplices had six. Why is such misconduct tolerated by big city police departments? Is it because politically powerful police unions protect the bad apples among them? Is it because the doctrine of “qualified immunity” shields corrupt officials from accountability for a wide range of crimes?
At the same time, we need to ask why those same big city police departments -- and the politicians who direct them -- utterly failed to discharge their responsibility to protect their citizens from the violent riots that engulfed them. Withdrawing police protection from our streets, abandoning police stations to rioters, turning a blind eye to looting, arson and mayhem, all have an incendiary effect on insurrections. Without law enforcement there is no law, and without law there is no civilization.
When law enforcement is attacked, degraded, disrespected, demoralized, hamstrung and withdrawn, those most at risk are the poor and defenseless who live and work in our inner cities.
Abraham Lincoln warned, “There is no grievance that is a fit object for redress by mob law.” The lack of respect for the rule of law and the constitutional principles upon which it is founded, he believed, was the greatest threat to the future of the Republic. “As a nation of freemen,” he prophesied, “we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”