“Violence is just, where kindness is vain.” — Pierre Corneille
It was said that when one of the Goncourt brothers (19th Century French novelists) was taken by Madame Curie herself to tour the laboratory wherein she had discovered radium, he later wrote in his journal, “On being shown radium this morning, I thought I heard the voice of God, ringing out as clearly as the doorkeeper’s at the Louvre at five o’clock every weekday afternoon, and uttering the same solemn words, ‘Closing time, gentlemen!’”
These days, however, anyone on the lookout for apocalyptic benedictions need not leaf through the journals of refined authors and intellectuals, or browse the laboratories of physicists or chemists. No, the death knell of civil society, indeed, of all that makes humanity “human,” is not heralded by the newest weapons but rather by the half literate vulgarities of crude little people on their crude little live-stream video as they kidnap, brutalize and torture an innocent person. It is announced regularly on the evening news here in Memphis where one month ago, an 11 year-old girl walking to school one morning was raped and thrown into a ditch; where homicides reached an all-time high in 2016; and where the murder rate surpassed the murder rates of Chicago, New York City, Washington DC, and Los Angeles.
“I’m not going to say it shocked me,” said Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson of last week’s kidnapping and brutalization of a developmentally disabled gentleman, “but it was sickening.” Some of the particulars of the crime as reported by “The Sun“:
The live stream – originally posted by Brittany Herring but since deleted – showed the victim, who cops said had special needs, cowering in a corner with his arms tied and his mouth gagged.
He was filmed as he is kicked and punched by the gang, who were heard shouting “f*** Donald Trump. F*** white people”.
At one point they cut the man’s hair until his scalp bled before flicking cigarette ash into the wound.
He was discovered because he made so much noise while being tortured, the neighbours downstairs complained to cops, and the foursome went down to kick there [sic] door in.
The victim, who was initially reported missing on Monday night by his mother, was then able to make a break for it.
Note, please, the Police Superintendent’s admission that he wasn’t “shocked” by the attack. The fact that this level of barbarity comes as no surprise is itself a resounding condemnation of the growing acceptance of idiot-savagery as normal. Never mind the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s 1993 expression of “defining deviancy down.” We passed that marker long ago, because when snot-nosed miscreants feel free to shamelessly showcase their loathsome crimes and assaults on social media, we’re not just defining deviancy down. We’re defining barbarism down as well, and the whole mess is taking what’s left of civil society down with it into a primitive existence where brutish culture meets third world tribalism.
“The actions in that video are reprehensible,” continued Police Superintendent Johnson, who declared, “That along with racism have absolutely no place in the city of Chicago or anywhere else for that matter …” I’m sorry, Superintendent Johnson, but both the carnage and the racism have indeed had a place in Chicago for some time now, as well as in a great many other cities and communities across America. When a sitting President practically canonizes a 289 lb, 6’8” aspiring thug who committed a strong-arm robbery of a business before attempting to take a police officer’s service weapon and physically charging the officer who shot and killed the young man out of self defense, you can know that the path to mayhem has been cleared. When the President sends representatives to the assailant’s funeral while the officer must go into hiding to protect his family, you may know that society itself has been turned upside down.
Reverend Al Sharpton went on record on MSNBC recently, where he called for a “Season of Civil Disobedience” in response to the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions to be the next Attorney General. How the reverend distinguishes a season of civil disobedience from the preceding four seasons of looting, vandalizing, cop-killing, and racial assaults which he and other demagogues have helped foment remains, at this point, unclear.
“We intend to make this a critical stand in terms of where people are with civil rights and voting rights in this country,” says Rev. Al. Okay then, just to be clear on this critical stand:
* Resisting arrest is not a civil right.
* Refusing an officer’s order to drop your weapon is not a civil right.
* Going for an officer’s service weapon is not a civil right.
* Assaulting an officer is not a civil right.
* Calling for the assault and murder of white people or any other people is no more a civil right than yelling fire in a crowded theater.
* Blocking highways and illegally detaining motorists and emergency vehicles is not a civil right.
* Trespassing on private property to stage a “die in,” at the mayor’s personal residence (as happened recently in Memphis) is not a civil right.
* Stealing from businesses, vandalizing and burning them down is neither a civil right nor protected speech.
* Entering the country illegally is no more a civil right than is illegally entering Al Sharpton’s home.
* And criticizing as racist a voting requirement to prove one’s identity without also criticizing the identical requirement to show an ID in order to buy a pack of cigarettes, an alcoholic beverage, a plane ticket or to gain entry into the Democratic National Convention is not only hypocritical, it’s incomprehensible.
One hopes, nay, prays that among the changes accompanying the new Trump administration will be a recognition of a few long-neglected civic realities — namely that civil society is not preserved by suspending societal standards of decency and respectability. It is the apparent goal of the progressive project to render useless, or even subversive, the cumulative wisdom and lessons of the human experience. Some call it “fundamental transformation,” but regardless of the label, the result is anarchic, violent, and destructive of humanity itself. As William F. Buckley noted some 51 years ago, “Thus, the most acute political pressures of the day are leveled against those who seek to maintain the peace, rather than against those who break it.”
The hour is late, and the response should be on terms that the abusers can understand. The police find themselves in an untenable position: Should they go into the most violent communities and take necessary measures to protect the innocent, they will be called racists (as I observed in summarizing a few of Heather MacDonald’s findings several months back in The Federalist, “…blacks make up just 15 percent of the population in the nation’s 75 largest counties, yet comprise 45 percent of all assault defendants, 62 percent of all robbery defendants, and 57 percent of all murder defendants. In New York City alone, where blacks comprise 23 percent of the population, they account for 75 percent of all shootings, 70 percent of all robberies, and 66 percent of all violent crime.”) On the other hand, when police back off in those neighborhoods, either out of fear of being assaulted or out of fear of being sued, the violence increases and the same people who yesterday complained when there was a deterrent police presence now complain that the deterrent is gone.
Too bad. As Bill Buckley wrote decades ago, “…the point is that it is necessary to sequester the transgressors, whatever the genealogy of their aberrations. Because individuals victims have rights too.” Whatever other policies and promises Mr. Trump plays loose with, he must support the efforts of communities to restore order. If local police are overwhelmed, bring in the National Guard. Match dumb, brute force with overwhelming and superior force. Stop rationalizing and excusing lawless barbarism and start holding its practitioners responsible.
“If you wish to lead a quiet life,” wrote Leon Trotsky, “you picked the wrong century to be born in.” To which Whittaker Chambers observed, “And indeed, the point was finally proved, when a pickaxe mauled the brain of the man who framed those words.” It is our job to disarm those who wield their pickaxes against civil society, to help people improve their own lot in life if that is their wish, but always with the understanding that prohibitive penalties await that those who insist on transgressing the societal order. The right to self defense is both an individual and civic right.