Our new bumper-sticker don't work: As we noted not log ago, we've come to have a lot of respect for Nicholas Kristof's values.
That doesn't man that he's always right, since pretty much nobody is. Today, we think he's trying too hard. He's trying too hard to work with our flailing tribe's latest unworkable slogan.
As he starts, he tries to play nicely with others. His start sounds reassuring:
KRISTOF (6/11/20): “Defund the police” is a catchy phrase, but some Americans hear it and imagine a home invasion, a frantic call to 911—and then no one answering the phone."Defund the police" is a catchy phrase? Actually, no—it just isn't.
That’s not going to happen. Rather, here’s a reassuring example of how defunding has worked in practice.
It's "catchy" if you want to dream, or if you want to seem to dream, the childish dreams of children. It's catchy if you're too detached from the full world around you to understand that the whole world isn't, and never will be, just you and your dumb-asp friends.
The catchy phrase has already created a ton of confusion, and matters have only gotten worse from there. Nobody knows what the catchy phrase means, and those who explain may make matters worse.
Lisa Bender went on TV and said she could imagine a world with no police. That's the way dreams were in the early 70s. After that, Altamont happened.
On balance, we have a lot of respect for Kristof, but we think he's trying too hard. We were especially struck by where he went after that upbeat start.
He said he had "a reassuring example of how defunding has worked in practice." But when his reassuring example arrived, he was really just playing word games. Very few people would be inclined to describe this as "defunding"
KRISTOF (continuing directly): In the 1990s, both the United States and Portugal were struggling with how to respond to illicit narcotics. The United States doubled down on the policing toolbox, while Portugal followed the advice of experts and decriminalized the possession even of hard drugs.Is Kristof "using today's terminology?" Mainly, he's trying to cram today's terminology into a setting where it isn't a natural fit.
So in 2001, Portugal, to use today’s terminology, defunded the police for routine drug cases. Small-time users get help from social workers and access to free methadone from roving trucks.
Portugal "defunded the police for routine drug cases?" No one would describe what happened in that stilted way, unless he was pointlessly trying to rescue the use of an unhelpful, sloganeered phrase.
Based on what Kristof writes, Portugal decided to address "routine drug cases" through the use of social workers rather than through the police. We're not entirely sure what that means, but no English speaker would describe it in the way Kristof does, except as a way to avoid admitting that our hot new slogan doesn't make good clear sense.
As he continues, Kristof says that Portugal achieved good results by adopting this different approach, whatever exactly it was. By relieving police of the need to handle "routine drug cases" (whatever exactly they are), Kristof says that Portugal began winning the war on drugs.
If true, that's good news, and it may be a practice to copy. (Aren't jurisdictions already doing that?) That said, no native speaker of English would be inclined to describe it as an example of "defunding the police." It's just a good solid bit of reform.
As he continues, Kristof continues to be polite. Then he expresses a fear:
KRISTOF: That’s the idea behind “Defund the Police” as most conceive it—not to eliminate every police officer but to reimagine ways to make us safe that don’t necessarily involve traditional law enforcement.Is that really the idea behind "Defund the police?" Actually, there's no clear idea behind the phrase—and it could be a gift to Donald J. Trump because of the way it will naturally sound to many voters' ears.
This conversation is long overdue. But I’m also worried that the phrase will amount to a gift to President Trump and Mitch McConnell. A recent poll found only 16 percent of respondents favor cutting funds for police departments, even as huge majorities acknowledged racial bias in policing and favored police reforms...
There's something every liberal and progressive needs to know. Like all teams, our self-impressed team tends to be very dumb.
Do children say the darnedest things? So do many of our ranking professors, along with other top stars.
Under current arrangements, cable hosts will continue to pander to us because they want our business. But "Defund the police" doesn't make much sense, except in the realm in which some "we" decides to go after some "them."
What's the basic idea behind our new slogan? Kristof says the basic idea is to "reimagine ways to make us safe that don’t necessarily involve traditional law enforcement." That sounds like a very good thing to do, but why would you call it "defunding?"
"Reimagine police" has a hopeful sound. By contrast, "Defund the police" is a battle cry straight out of punishment/warfare. That said, human tribes have always worked on hating the other, and numbnuts like us do that too.
"Reimagine police" (or policing) might stir better angels. We could imagine following with, "Make the world better for everyone."
That's right, jerk-offs! We ought to dream of making the world better for the average police officer too—for the person who isn't the apparently deranged Derek Chauvin. But that would mean we couldn't loathe the others, and loathing is what all tribes do.
"Defund the police" just isn't real catchy. Mainly, it's incoherent, except for the ways it's misleading/confusing.
It's the latest example of "great ways to lose." Like all tribes, we over here in our self-impressed band tend to be skilled at that task.