Ross Douthat Finds a Nut


Predictably, he covers it in shit and buries it again: 

In an era of riots and hijackings, the SWAT model understandably spread nationwide. But as the riots died away and the threat of domestic terror receded, SWAT tactics — helicopters, heavy weaponry, the works — became increasingly integrated into normal crime-fighting, and especially into the war on drugs.

This was phase one in the militarization of America’s police forces, as described in Radley Balko’s essential 2013 book on the subject, “The Rise of the Warrior Cop.” Phase two, in which the federal government began supplying local police with military hardware, began in the 1990s and accelerated after 9/11, under the theory that Islamic terrorists could strike anywhere, and that it might take a cop with a grenade launcher to stop them.

Why yes, that in fact happened. And as I recall, conservative columnists jumped up and down, eager to spread the Gospel of George W. Bush. Eager to give the world the Bad News about dirty bombs and nukes in shopping malls, they encouraged the erecting of barricades outside every Little League ballfield, because anywhere two or more of you were gathered in America’s name, there the terrorists would be also.

The people who pointed out that this was just the most egregious bullshit, and that that fearmongering nonsense did nothing other than make people want to vote Republican (oh wait, I think I cracked their code here), were derided as traitors, fifth columnists, and general scum on the bottom of the Decider’s paratrooper boots.

But don’t let that get in the way of your newly enprincipled stand against Big Militaristic Government, Ross:

Well before Ferguson, this broad critique — long pressed by a mix of libertarians like Balko and left-wingers — was gaining traction in the political mainstream. This is why sentencing reform has a growing number of Republican champions, and why Rand Paul’s critique of the Ferguson police was more pointed and sweeping than President Obama’s.

Rand Paul’s critique, speaking of those sight-challenged rodents locating morsels out of pure luck, was effective precisely because it spoke to that contrarian impulse so beloved of our Beltway press. Fully half the coverage of his comments was about him bucking his own party and running for president; you could see the saliva filling pundits’ mouths as they rolled the word “maverick” around their tongues once again.

(Ross clearly has read the memo. The “libertarian moment” has arrived. That’s the dominant political narrative, and that it’s utter trash is irrelevant. Everyone on board the Paul-train!)

Ross can’t quite bring himself to agree that Saint Reagan’s blessed drug war was more sacrilege than sacrament, however, and positions himself so as to take no position at all:

 But there may be trade-offs here: In an era of atomization, distrust and economic stress, our punitive system may be a big part of what’s keeping crime rates as low as they are now, making criminal justice reform more complicated than a simple pro-liberty free lunch.

Paul may be right! But he also may be wrong! How can anyone tell? I am considering, and pondering, and ruminating, upon this question. I take no stand, lest someone accuse me of unbecoming friendliness to poor and/or black people.

Watching the conservative reaction to the biggest policing and crisis communications clusterfuck in American history has been entertaining this week. It’s the only part of this ongoing Dumpster fire that is remotely entertaining, watching defenders of American liberty and individual freedom cheer big government’s big guns and defend the execution of alleged shoplifters before reports of their crimes even reached the guillotines.

Crime rates rise and fall, but crime-fighting is a constant for police; dealing with terrorism and insurrection, however, decidedly is not. Yet for decades we’ve been equipping our cops as though the Symbionese Liberation Army were about to come out of retirement, as if every burst of opportunistic lawlessness could become another Watts, as though the Qaeda sleeper cells we feared after 9/11 were as pervasive in life as they are on “24” or “Homeland.”

And this is where it’s ended: with a bunch of tomfool police playing soldier, tear-gassing protesters, arresting journalists and turning Ferguson into a watchword for policing at its worst.

Time to take their toys away.

Time to possibly suggest that the next time somebody says maybe don’t give them the toys in the first place, refrain from calling that person a filthy Osama-loving hippie who wants Americans to die.


4 thoughts on “Ross Douthat Finds a Nut

  1. Funny how ass hats like Ross always sagely declaim this wisdom only after all the shit we said years ago would happen, has.

  2. Ross is a chickenshit beltway contrarian. He’ll back away from this position, weak as it is, as soon as everyone’s distracted by something else, and be rooting for these same paramilitary teams and armor to blockade abortion clinics with extreme prejudice.

  3. Speaking of toys for the overgrown boys on the thin blue line, has anyone looked at how much all this “free” military hardware is costing to maintain? I know it’s gauche to bring up money when we’re talking national security and sacred gubmint contracts and all, but my local fuzz either doesn’t know or refuses to say what the monetary investment we taxpayers are making toward these gifts from on high.

  4. After 9/11, and particularly in the lead-up to the Iraq invasion, I expressed doubts about the wisdom of the Patriot Act and called BS on any notion that Iraq had or was developing nukes, based on information then publicly available. For my troubles, I had my patriotism, intelligence and sexual proclivities questioned by people who would sell Stinger missiles to Satan, who are dumber than Doug “dumbest fucking guy on the planet” Feith, and who would screw a snake if they could get someone to hold its head.

    One of these days I’m gonna post a project I did for one of my grad-school classes that involved a Ross Douthat column as a starting point for creating an infographic on population trends in developed countries. I told the professor in writing that the first thing I was going to do was double-check Douthat’s sources myself because RoDo had a history of, let us say, selectively and creatively interpreting them. And sure enough, I found a couple of medium-grade loads of bullshit in that column. If that boy were to be held to the same standards of accuracy at the Times to which I was held at several less august (read: imperious) papers, he’d be on the street.

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