My City Council in Minneapolis has decided to de-something the police. Defend? Nah. Defund.
But by ‘defund’, they don’t mean ‘abolish’, silly. And by ‘abolish’, they don’t mean ‘abolish’ at all. They mean something far less radical, which is why they chose the most alarming and polarizing words in the dictionary. Except also they mean ‘abolish’.
Confused? Don’t worry — the result will be so much better, because the idea is the reimagining of the power structures that have systematically arisen to systemize systemic systemism, structurally. Also, no debate, it’s a done deal, because this is what democracy looks like.
One advocate tweeted: ‘If you are a comfortable white person asking to dismantle the police I invite you to reflect: are you willing to stick with it? Will you be calling in three months to ask about garage break-ins? Are you willing to dismantle white supremacy in all systems, including a new system?’
It’s not the most coherent argument, but the message seems to be this: if you progressive allies in the nice part of town are serious about change, are you going to lose your nerve and call the cops when you see criminals breaking into your home? Or will you think, ‘I will lose all my power tools and the bikes, but at least I haven’t reinforced the dominant supremacist dynamic that doubtless was the cause of me having a bike in the first place’?
The advocate in question who wrote that tweet? Lisa Bender, the head of the Minneapolis City Council.
Then again, politicians are not celebrated these days for precise thinking. From City Council’s announcement:
‘We recognize that we don’t have all the answers about what a police-free future looks like, but our community does.’
Mao and Lenin would be rolling their eyes if they had any. They don’t, because they are boiled away in the pits of hell, but if they did, they’d say: ‘dude. This is not how you do the whole revolution thing. You disband the old hated institution and replace it immediately with the People’s Better Thing Which is Awesome Because Justice’. (Mao and Lenin would use those terms because they get Twitter in Hell. It’s one of the things that makes Hell even more Hellish.)
‘We are going to get rid of the police, but we don’t know quite what comes next’ is like telling people you’re going to seize their houses, and then have a dialogue about the process which will lead to a committee which will lead to a council which will formulate guidelines for the newly-formed Residential Justice Association. People will want to know ‘uh — can I still live in the house that was mine?’ Tell them yes! Lenin says. You can always kick them out later, when they have no power.
I mean, duh. But if you wanted to know what was next, you might look at the advocates of the police defunding / abolition movement cite. One was MPD150, which has a perky FAQ:
‘But what about armed bank robbers, murderers, and supervillains?
‘Crime isn’t random. Most of the time, it happens when someone has been unable to meet their basic needs through other means. By shifting money away from the police and toward services that actually meet those needs, we’ll be able to get to a place where people won’t need to rob banks.’
First of all, this is like grouping together ‘rapists, child murderers, and the Alien from all those scary sci-fi movies.’ There are no super villains, unless you can find me a picture of George Soros wearing a gray Nehru jacket petting a white angora cat in a volcano HQ.
Second, let’s unpick the idea that people rob banks because shucks, they had too much month left at the end of the money — it only makes sense if your notion of the motivations of criminals was formed by repeated listenings to the soundtrack of Les Miserables.
When you drill down deep enough, you’ll find someone on Reddit who’s totally down with scouring the pigs off the map, but understands it’s not always that simple. You send in the social worker first to apprehend the bank robber, but let’s be real: after the social worker is shot in the head, you can’t send in another Economic Situation Grief Counselor. Someone has to bring the bank robber in, so they can begin the process of Restorative Justice. That might mean someone with a gun. In other words, police.
Sorry, sorry, just saying! I mean, it’s possible!
At least we should be happy that the modern-day Jacobins are so confident in human virtue that they believe state compulsion backed with lethal force is the last, regrettable step to ensure compliance. But once the concept of ‘the police’ is delegitimized entirely — not something to be reformed, but eliminated — perhaps the cadre of state actors with guns might be redefined to ensure not justice, but social justice? The former is a fig-leaf for supremacism, but the latter, with its endlessly elastic definitions, is the only true, shining path to eliminating (insert all the bad stuff here) in our immediate lifetime, aka by September at the latest.
The Minneapolis City Council will be issuing more updates on Twitter and Facebook as the week progresses, so be sure to like and follow…
James Lileks is a columnist for National Review. His website is lileks.com.