Liberals Play the Race Card to Perpetuate the State

In response to Anthony Gregory’s Why Do Conservatives Always Side With the Cops, I agree that the Henry Louis Gates arrest incident has been misinterpreted by conservatives: one indeed has the right to security in one’s home, and should not be subject to arrest or harassment therein. However, liberals are similarly misinterpreting the incident, and are just as culpable in attempting to use it for their ends to perpetuate and extend the power of the State.

In the Maye case, drug enforcement agents violently invaded Maye’s home in a tragic example of the horrible consequences of militarizing the police force in the war on drugs. Maye was well within his rights to defend his home, by violent means against violent invaders who reportedly did not identify themselves or otherwise provide him information contrary to his impression that armed criminals were invading his home.

Our book Drug War Crimes documents the true costs, benefits, and consequences of drug prohibition, of which the Maye case is one tragic example. The evidence presented in the book yields a disturbing finding: the more resources given to the Drug War, the greater the homicide rate. The book then examines various alternatives to drug prohibition and identifies the most effective solution.

While the facts of the Gates case are now and perhaps forever mired in the politicization of race, an important distinction is that in this case the police responded to a security call by a concerned neighbor. Until we have successfully privatized security, the vast majority of people are going to be dependent on the State’s police force for dealing with such safety concerns.

The entire incident blew way out of proportion when an oversensitive Gates responded to a security concern through a filter of racism, becoming verbally offensive. However, he did provide the policeman with ID establishing that it was in fact his home.  At that point the policeman had fulfilled his security responsibility and ought to have left, and had his mother taught him as mine did, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me,” he would have. Instead, he took offense personally, he had power and he exercised it.

If these are indeed the facts, then, yes, this was an abuse of police power, and the arresting policeman ought to be held accountable for whatever damages his actions caused Gates. Had he been a private policeman, the liability for paying those damages would be borne by his employer, with almost certain consequences to his employment status.

As a government policeman, of course, his employer has only the money it gets by coercion from taxpayers, and presuming Gates is one, he will thus only be doubly victimized if he sues for damages.

As our book, To Serve and Protect outlines, we need desperately to privatize all aspects of crime control, bringing police into full private accountability for their actions, which is the only way any power is kept in check.

“Race” is thus being used to obfuscate the real root problems the incident illustrates and their proper policy prescriptions. In our new book, Race and Liberty in America, the writings, speeches and experiences of freedom fighters from Frederick Douglass and Lysander Spooner to H.L. Mencken and Martin Luther King, Jr., reveal government as the problem, not the solution to racial discrimination. In claiming the mantle as heirs to such civil libertarians, Obama, Gates, and others badly distort the actual history of racism and its perpetuation possible only through the protection afforded by racist laws enforced by the State (Jim Crow and other laws passed by vested interests in contradistinction to voluntary, private behavior). Gates is more accurately the heir of the über-Statist W. E. B. Du Bois, for whose eponymous Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard he serves as Director. Du Bois of course died an unrepentant member of the Communist party in 1963—well late enough to have been aware of the horrible ramifications of the ideology’s practices worldwide—including the tragic fates of the many American blacks as well as whites who succumbed to pro-communist propaganda by emigrating to Soviet Russia in the 1930s (for more on which see here and here)—and continuing ramifications through such ongoing tragedies as today’s Zimbabwe.

Obama, Gates, liberals, conservatives and all others desiring a true end of racism would thus do far better to abandon the failed model of identity-based politics and fully embrace the classical liberal tradition as detailed in Race and Liberty and America.

Mary L. G. Theroux is Senior Vice President of the Independent Institute. Having received her A.B. in economics from Stanford University, she is Managing Director of Lightning Ventures, L.P., a San Francisco Bay Area investment firm, former Chairman of the Board of Advisors for the Salvation Army of both San Francisco and Alameda County, and Vice President of the C.S. Lewis Society of California.
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