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Some people argue that the solution to the problem of police abuse of blacks is to defund or dismantle the police. But that is no solution at all. That only opens the door to those who violate the rights of others through the commission of violent crimes. As we have seen in Portland and in foreign countries such as Libya and Somalia, anarchy breeds, well, anarchy.
Instead, the solution lies in limiting the power of the police to enforce only crimes involving the initiation of force against others, such as murder, rape, burglary, and robbery. In other words, repeal all laws that criminalize peaceful behavior but leave the police empowered to enforce the legitimate laws against force or fraud.
In particular, one of the best things that could ever happen to blacks is a repeal of all drug laws. Blacks should not settle for police “reform,” such as restrictions on no-knock raids, police sensitivity classes, or revisions in the judicial doctrine of qualified immunity. Ending the drug war is an absolute prerequisite to resolving the police-abuse problem. That includes all drugs — heroin, cocaine, meth, opioids, marijuana, and all the rest. While legalizing drugs would be one of the best things that could ever happen to all Americans, it would be especially beneficial to blacks because it would mean an end to the major excuse that bigoted cops and judges have to harass, abuse, and kill blacks.
Sure, they could still exercise their bigotry through the enforcement of laws against murder, rape, robbery, and other crimes, but it would be much more difficult to do that. My hunch is that once drugs were legalized, racial bigots would begin leaving the law-enforcement arena.
Another interesting reaction of American right-wingers to the police-abuse protests has been to point out the tremendous progress that blacks generally have made both politically and economically over the past several decades. One favorite right-wing argument is to show how American blacks are so much better off than blacks in other parts of the world.
And that is supposed to cause people to ignore police abuse of American blacks? Well, it shouldn’t. No matter how well off generally American blacks might be, the police abuse of blacks, especially poor ones, cannot be justified. It needs to be brought to an end.
One of the big obstacles to drug legalization, unfortunately, is the support of the drug war by many blacks themselves. Having seen drugs ravage people in the black community, many blacks are loath to consider the idea of drug legalization. Like many white Americans, they believe that legalization would make drug abuse even worse.
Not so! Drug abuse belongs in the private sector — in rehab groups — not in the criminal-justice sector. With drug legalization, people could be more open about their addiction and more willing to seek help, without fear of being busted by some narc at a drug-rehab facility or at Narcotics Anonymous. At the same time, the 200-year jail sentences, asset forfeitures, stop-and-frisks, no-knock raids, and drug-war abuses that have long ravaged blacks will be gone.
The myth of a communist threat
Returning to Jean Seberg and the Black Panthers, it is clear that police abuse of blacks is not a new phenomenon. It has been going on for a long time. In fact, consider why Seberg, a white actress, was targeted for destruction by the FBI. The FBI’s action was part of its COINTELPRO program, which was implemented during the Cold War. Its purpose was to spy on Americans who were suspected of being part of what the U.S. national-security establishment was convinced was a worldwide communist conspiracy to take over the world, especially the United States.
This was a period of time in which the Pentagon, the CIA, and FBI were on the hunt for domestic communists who were supposed to be internal infiltrators for the international Red conspiracy to take over America. Among the primary suspects were American civil-rights workers, especially blacks.
That’s why the FBI was monitoring Martin Luther King Jr. and, later, blackmailing him. The FBI head, J. Edgar Hoover, and his agents were convinced that King was a Red. In fact, Hoover and his cohorts believed that the entire Civil Rights Movement was a communist front — the spearhead of what was set to be a communist takeover of America.
That’s why they targeted Seberg for destruction. Anyone who was suspected of helping communists take over America was considered a legitimate target for destruction.
Thus, during the Cold War federal officials considered people in the civil rights movement to be communist traitors, while, at the time, America had local cops harassing, abusing, and killing blacks. That’s not a coincidence. The two phenomena went hand in hand.
That’s not the only role the U.S. national-security state played in the mistreatment of blacks. During the Cold War, the Pentagon and the CIA were establishing police departments in countries in which they effected regime-change operations. Two examples are Iran in 1953 and Guatemala in 1954. Inevitably, they would establish national police forces that consisted of a combination FBI, Pentagon, and CIA, and were trained to wield omnipotent, tyrannical, and oppressive powers to maintain their grip on power, with no constitutional restraints.
The result was tyranny and oppression, all organized, supervised, trained, and supported by the Pentagon and the CIA. It was all justified by the supposed need to protect the foreign country as well as America from the international communist threat. In fact, the reason that the Iranian people finally revolted in 1979 was that they had had enough of U.S. tyranny and oppression within their own country. It was also why Guatemala was thrown into a 30-year civil war in 1960 that killed more than a million people.
We mustn’t forget about the U.S. military’s School of the Americas, which is known as the School of Assassins in Latin America. Many of the most brutal police personnel in Latin America were trained there. The U.S. government mindset was that immoral and illegal measures were justified when it came to dealing with communists.
That mindset ultimately seeped into local police departments in the United States. One reason was that the CIA and the Pentagon would sometimes import local policemen to help train foreign police forces; when they returned they employed at the local level what they had learned from the military and the CIA in fighting communists. Another reason was that Vietnam War veterans began working their way into police departments and bringing their military mindsets with them.
The worst mistake America ever made — much worse, in fact, than the drug war — was the conversion of the federal government to a national-security state after World War II. A national-security state is a totalitarian form of governmental structure. North Korea is a national-security state. So are China, Russia, Cuba, Vietnam, and Egypt.
As people in all those societies can attest, a national-security state comes with omnipotent, totalitarian-like powers. It’s not a coincidence that the Pentagon, CIA, and the NSA can assassinate, torture, and spy on people with impunity, regardless of what the Constitution says. It’s also not a coincidence that the Pentagon and the CIA established their torture and prison camp in Cuba, where criminal defendants in the “war on terrorism” are denied the fundamental rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights, such as due process of law, trial by jury, and speedy trial.
Thus, the problem isn’t just that the Pentagon has been militarizing local police over the decades. The problem is the national-security establishment itself. It has no role in a free society. The best thing the American people, especially black Americans, could ever do is dismantle the national-security state and restore a limited-government republic to our land.
The welfare state
Finally, there is the welfare state to consider, even though it doesn’t relate directly to police abuse. This is the big con that left-wingers induced American blacks to fall for. The notion is that the road to wealth, prosperity, and security for blacks lies in a government that takes care of them with money, food, housing, clothing, education, and other important things in life.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The welfare state has been a disaster for all Americans, but especially for blacks. I refer readers, especially black Americans, to George Mason University economics professor Walter E. Williams’s 1984 book, The State against Blacks.
Consider what welfare has done to encourage the birth of children out of wedlock — and what public housing has done to lock black families into poverty — and what public (i.e., government) schooling has done to inner-city black youths. Not only have these programs locked so many blacks into perpetual poverty, they have also created a mindset of dependency in all too many blacks.
In a sense, such programs are racist to the core. That’s because their implicit message is: Since you’re black, you need government assistance. How much more insulting can one get than that? Blacks no more need government assistance than whites, Asians, or anyone else. It’s just that this mindset of dependency has been inculcated in blacks, just as it has with other Americans, such as seniors who are convinced they would die without their Social Security and Medicare.
Consider what minimum-wage laws have done to black teenagers. For many years, they have had a chronic unemployment rate of 30–40 percent. That’s because the government’s minimum-wage laws have locked them out of the labor market. The repeal of the minimum wage would be among the best things that could ever happen to black teenagers.
For more than 100 years, America had an economic system in which people were free to keep everything they earned and to decide for themselves what to do with it. There was no income taxation and no IRS. There was also no mandatory charity, including Social Security, Medicare, public housing, welfare, or corporate bailouts. The result was the most prosperous and also the most charitable nation in history.
It is that founding economic system of economic liberty to which America must restore if we are to get our nation on the right track. For those who claim that blacks are not ready for economic liberty, let’s keep in mind that there were those who said the same thing about ending 19th-century slavery — that blacks weren’t ready for freedom. Such notions are demeaning and false. God has created resilient human beings, ones who are always prepared for freedom.
In sum, there are three essential things that would put America on the right track with respect to blacks and everyone else: (1) legalize all drugs; (2) dismantle the national-security state and restore a limited-government republic; and (3) repeal the welfare state and restore economic liberty to our land.
This article was originally published in the December 2020 edition of Future of Freedom.
The Future of Freedom Foundation was founded in 1989 by FFF president Jacob Hornberger with the aim of establishing an educational foundation that would advance an uncompromising case for libertarianism in the context of both foreign and domestic policy. The mission of The Future of Freedom Foundation is to advance freedom by providing an uncompromising moral and economic case for individual liberty, free markets, private property, and limited government. Visit https://www.fff.org
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