Part 4—Liberal lectures police: Here at the Howler, we’ve never worked as a police officer.
We think of it as a difficult job. We don’t know what we would do in every situation a person confronts on that job.
In part for these reasons, we’re disinclined to judge the conduct of police officers, especially in cases where the facts are unclear. We’re often amazed at how easily others make judgments in such cases.
In the past few years, we’ve been struck by how easily many liberals make such judgments, then start rearranging and inventing facts to drive their judgments along.
All too often, we invent and rearrange facts to construct a perfect case. It’s sad to see the liberal world engage in this sort of conduct.
What’s it like to be a policeman? We can’t really say. But two weeks ago, David Brooks wrote a column, The Cop Mind, which attempted to answer that question.
We were struck by the way some liberals reacted to the things Brooks wrote.
The modern “liberal” tends to be quite dismissive of the modern policeman. We noticed this tendency in many comments to Brooks’ column. But then, the New York Times published a letter which truly captured this instinct.
Brooks discussed some of the fears, anxieties and uncertainties policemen inevitably face. His discussion seemed to make little impression on one reader in Stamford, Connecticut.
The reader offered his thoughts about Brooks’ column. We were struck by his reactions, all of which took a scolding or reproving tone toward police.
Just a guess. The reader's thoughts after reading David Brooks’ column were exactly the same as the thoughts he had had before:
TO THE NEW YORK TIMES (12/16/14): Some thoughts after reading David Brooks’s column “The Cop Mind” (Dec. 9):This was just one letter, or course. That said, we thought it was striking.
Police officers are volunteers, not conscripts; they choose to accept the risk of the job, and must accept its responsibilities.
The insane proliferation of guns in our society has made policing, and just living, in our country, more dangerous. Police officers should be the first to lobby for, and vote for, strict gun control.
Prospective police officers should be tested thoroughly to establish that they are able to keep their cool and their testosterone in check during altercations and trained repeatedly on how to do so.
They are supposed to be the professionals, not the citizens on the street. Officers who are an integral part of, and really know, the community they police are much less likely to see danger where it does not exist, and much more likely to be supported by the members of the community they serve.
The priority of every police department must be to ensure that the percentage of officers of color is proportional to the population of color in the community they police.
Stamford, Conn., Dec. 9, 2014
Brooks’ column was intended to let readers see the world through a policeman’s eyes. But how odd! In every one of the reader’s reactions, he was basically lecturing police from his position of comfort.
It isn’t that anything reader wrote was technically “wrong.” Still, we were struck by the lack of empathy on display in his letter, by his failure to engage with anything the Brooks column asked him to think about.
Does this reader have any empathy for the people who police the nation’s streets? Even when he talked about “the insane proliferation of guns” which “has made policing more dangerous,” he ended up saying that police officers should support gun control, the way he does!
(Police organizations have tended to support such measures.)
Police departments should “ensure that the percentage of officers of color is proportional to the population of color in the community they police?” That sounds like a decent idea to us! But that idea has nothing to do with the considerations advanced in Brooks' column. The reader was simply repeating the “thoughts” he had before reading the piece.
We liberals tend to say that we’re the ones with the empathy. That said, there are quite a few groups for whom we tend to display no empathy at all.
Empathy is a form of insight; we liberals often lack it. For that reason, we find ourselves heading off for Christmas after a disappointing, dismaying year.
In the end, just how sharp are we the liberals really? How many realities can we take in? From how many (legitimate) points of view can we imagine the world?
We’ll continue to ask such questions after we return from a very Durham Christmas. As we harness our sleigh, we'll only say this:
In the past, limited vision from us the liberals has provided a path to defeat.