Today is different
And tomorrow the same
It’s hard to take the world
The way that it came
Too many rapids
Keep us sweeping along
Too many captains
Keep on steering us wrong
It’s hard to take the heat —
It’s hard to lay blame
To fight the fire —
Feeding the flames
— Neil Peart “Second Nature”, from the album “Hold your Fire”by Rush
Billy Beck is beating the drum over the murder of Jose Guerena in Arizona, and rightly so. What I wish to highlight here is the horrible spectacle of mainstream minds raising the alarm over the increasingly violent intrusions of the government into our lives, even as their underlying ideologies move them inexorably towards that end-of-road. To judge by the reaction around the blogosphere, both Left and Right are aghast and angry over Guerena’s death — but I will show how, in fact, both “sides” are, at root, complicit in it.
For conservatism, it is the dominant author of drug prohibition, the aegis under which the police have been so militarized in capacity and discretion — but without any of the military’s discipline or restraint. It is conservatism that, at root, sanctions drug prohibition as a perfectly logical expression of its premise that individual human beings cannot be trusted to be moral, and that society exists in order to constrain individuals and their vices. There exists plenty of evidence in this regard, which in the interests of brevity I leave to the reader to dig up; I suggest the First Things blog, and “The Conservative Mind” by Russell Kirk as starting points.
How about the Left, then? The simpletons who operate in the box of conventional politics would, in expectations that Lefties oppose drug prohibition and (notwithstanding Wisconsin) are usually at odds with police, point to this article at the Daily Kos as evidence of the Left’s reaction to Guerena’s murder.
There is plenty of anger there, and overall the article is spot-on in many of its questions. But alas, note these qualifiers sprinkled like cyanide dust throughout it, undercutting its intended message and reminding us of the internal logic of Leftism:
Is the life of one Mexican-American worth less than the lives of others?
Already, the standard Leftist re-framing of the atrocity in terms of their overarching political goals — in this case, by frightening Mexican-Americans. Poisoning the well already! It would appear that, in “skywriter”‘s eyes and those of all the Daily Kos authors, the life of this particular American was worth more than that of this other American.
If that were true, I’d be siding with the cops but it is not.
Really, now? “skywriter” is referring to whether Guerena had begun shooting first. Note the context of that statement in the facts that “skywriter” himself presents right there in his article: the residents of the home had good reason to believe that they were about to be invaded, and Guerena had his wife and child to defend against this threat — but somehow, the moment he actually DOES this, “skywriter” comes down in favor of the cops. These facts, as they are, make it clear that Guerena would have been entirely justified in opening fire, regardless of the fact that they were cops.
But not for “skywriter”. Again, the underlying logic of Leftism manifests itself. Apparently, “skywriter” is bothered much less by the home invasion etc. in the name of the conservatives’ drug war, than he is by the prospect of Guerena refusing to be a victim, in which case he’d be “siding with the cops“. No, No, Jose, you are a “Mexican American”, you are supposed to be a victim! Individuals have no right to fight against the government, that’s what voting is for!
So once again, who thinks that Lefties are inherently “anti-cop”, or opposed to “law and order”? Look past those trees, there’s quite a forest back there folks. They are “anti-cop” when it suits their deeper fundamentals, and “pro cop” likewise. A rather credulous Leftie I know was defending the cops in much the same way that conservatives often do when there’s a police shooting — because Scott had a gun, of course, and that should never be allowed. Poof, there goes “anti-cop”. Priorities, you know. I wasn’t the least bit surprised. No one should be.
Why is there two levels of justice in the United States? One for the wealthy and another for everyone else? Would SWAT have gunned down a man in a wealthy neighborhood?
Why does there continue to be particular disrespect for people of color by law enforcement, 40 years after civil rights legislation became the law of the land?
More well poisoning, this time against “the wealthy” (whoever they are) and once again, the injection of race. And again, the implication that “skywriter” is concerned only with the rights of certain special classes, not of individual human beings as such.
Sadly, these manifestations undercut and destroy what would otherwise have been evidence that there might still be a salvageable Leftist in the world.
Individuals on both Left and “Right” are being rightfully alarmed about the rising manifestations of an increasingly belligerent and unconstrained government power, while carefully failing to ask the deeper questions which will lead them to realize how they themselves are, in accordance with the inexorable logic of their ideas, moving us towards it. Paraphrasing Neal Peart: They fight the fire, while they’re feeding the flames.
Ultimately, nothing short of declaring oneself in favor of the principle of individual rights, completely and absolutely, can truly stop one from contributing to the problem. There is no logical way to do this while remaining conservative, or Leftist in any respect whatsoever. Period.
And again: I don’t care how sincerely any individual conservative or Leftist abhors this particular result of their ideology (and conveniently, have each other to blame); as sincerely as you may be screaming “but I didn’t mean THIS!”, you are not absolved. At a minimum, Jose Guerena’s blood (as well as those of many others) is on the hands of ALL those who support drug prohibition…. but we all know that the bloody trail of fingerprints leads far deeper, uphill on the road to authoritarian paternalism and its roots common to both conservatism and Leftism.
6/5 Edited to clear up an ambiguity regarding conservatives’ reaction to the Erik Scott case.
6/18 Edited to add the lyrics.