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I’ve read a lot of criticism of police training recently. But I’m really not sure that better training would have changed the recent events in Minneapolis. First of all, I suspect police training is pretty good, because events like this are so rare. But secondly, I’m not sure that the cop’s behavior would have improved with better training. I mean, he’s kneeling on a guy’s neck, the guy’s struggling and saying he can’t breathe, over and over. Then he stops talking, stops struggling, and lays very still. At which point the cop continues to kneel on his neck for an extended period of time. What the heck? Who does that? You don’t need a training manual to tell you that you shouldn’t do that.
The way you avoid such egregious behavior is not through training but through recruiting and screening of applicants. It’s hard to modify the behavior of bullies and psychopaths through training. It’s easier to just not hire them in the first place. This cop had had several complaints against him in the past, for excessive use of force. If Mr. Floyd had survived, and this had not become a national event, I presume that the cop would have continued to have intermittent complaints of excessive use of force. That’s just who he is. Guys like that are dangerous roaming around on the streets – much more dangerous if they have a badge and a gun. Which brings me to the training of the looters roaming the streets of our major cities right now.
How much of the sociopathic behavior we’re seeing on our streets these days could have been avoided with better training? Stronger family structures. Being raised in a religious setting. Being taught the value of education, integrity, and hard work. I presume that such things would have reduced the looting a lot, because I presume that only a very, very few of the rioters and looters are damaged goods, like the cop who’s being accused of murder in Minneapolis. Or, at least, they certainly weren’t born that way. They were raised that way.
Many of us on the right fear the loss of strong families, churches, and schools because we understand that without such a structured background, many children will wander into lives of chaos of one sort or another. A peaceful society is difficult to build and easy to destroy.
I suspect that many on the left have similar fears, but rather than rebuild families and churches, they would prefer to fix the problem with (surprise!) more government, like government-funded daycare, head start programs, guidance counselors in public schools teaching socially acceptable systems of ethics, and so on.
And, obviously, for the past 50 years or so, the leftist vision of raising kids has been winning. Families and churches continue to disintegrate, while public programs for kids and schools continue to grow.
And this is what we get.
The government can do a lot of things, but apparently it does a poor job of raising kids. Perhaps a village can’t raise a child. Perhaps that child needs a family.
One of my patients is a black man from Georgia who is about 60 years old; he’s a dentist (went through dental school in the military), he’s done well, and he’s in the process of retiring. His son is also a dentist and is gradually taking over his practice.
Anyway, he was complaining about the riots, and he said (to paraphrase), When I was a kid, whites distrusted the negroes. They said they couldn’t go to school with whites, because they didn’t have the work habits or the brainpower. They said they didn’t want to work, they just wanted to steal stuff. Said they were violent and dangerous. Rev. King comes along with his obvious integrity and intellect, lots of people make lots of sacrifices, we made so much progress. And then this happens. The rioters seem determined to remind every person of every stereotype of blacks from the early 1900s. There are going to be white kids out there, who weren’t racists before, but they’ll watch TV, and they’ll be racists now. This sets our struggle back by 75 years.
I reflexively tried to reassure him and told him that I thought he was over-estimating the impact of the riots, although I certainly understood his concern.
He wasn’t angry, really. He just seemed so sad.
As I said, I don’t think improved police training could have helped the bad cop. Not at this point. He’s damaged goods. Maybe he needed a better family. Maybe he was abused as a kid. Maybe there’s something wrong with his soul. But better police training would not help him at this point. He’s just damaged goods.
I do, however, believe that better training (better upbringing) could have really helped the young people that we see rioting in our streets.
But I understand the fear of my patient: He fears that more and more people will start to look at the rioters the way I look at the bad cop. Damaged goods. Beyond any hope of improvement.
What if people start to actually believe garbage like that? Imagine. Oh my God. That would be good news for Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. But it would be an absolute catastrophe for every other American.
My patient is afraid that the rioters and looters will teach whites that black people are dangerous. I told him that I think he’s wrong. But what I meant is that I hope he’s wrong. I really, really do.
When it seems to make sense to use our own military to invade our own cities, that means there is a very big problem.
If my patient is right, our problem may be much bigger than it appears.
The rioters and their supporters seem to believe that they are virtuous, but American society as a whole is damaged goods, beyond any hope of improvement. I hope they’re wrong.
I really, really do.Published in