The problem is systemic white authority

Many conservatives seem unmoved by this year’s revelations of police violence against black men. If you don’t instantly obey a “lawful command,” if you run from the police, if you resist an arrest no matter how petty the crime, you deserve anything you get. We constantly hear the “bad apple” theory: Most police officers are brave, selfless heroes who leave home every day to keep us safe, not knowing if they will return to their families. But there are always a few bad apples.

In fact, despite the recent tragic murders of New York City and Mississippi policemen, the number and rate of police officers killed on duty is on a decades-long decline. In Utah over the last five years, more citizens have been killed by police than by criminal gang members.

Extra-judicial punishment like “nickel rides” for POP (Pissing Off Police) are now revealed as commonplace in police culture.

Conservatives should admit that constantly talking about black-on-black crime is simply changing the subject. The discussion is about police violence, not crime statistics.

We should all agree that being stopped for “driving while black” (or Latino) is a degrading experience and does not occur simply because people of color drive faster than whites.

Liberals blame society, talk about poverty and racism, predatory lending and food deserts, about the need for new government programs, more training for police, electing more minority politicians and other well-worn nostrums.

Conservatives are right to counter that Baltimore and other cities have received tender loving liberal care for over 50 years, and nothing much has changed. But when they do so, they tacitly admit that there is something wrong with society, that it is not just a lack of individual responsibility that results in violent confrontations with the police.

Liberals should reflect there is some truth in Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s widely condemned statement that black people in North Las Vegas might have been better off in slavery than government dependence. Yes, slave owners sometimes broke up families at the auction block. But under the surge of mass arrests and incarceration that white overseers like Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley and Joe Biden pushed through in the 1990s, black fathers and mothers are sent off to prison, destroying family cohesion in numbers surpassing the old South. At least slaves were considered property and had value to their owners.

Today, only those who have government connections have value to the state. The police do not arrest far more blacks than whites for petty crimes simply because they are racist. They do so because if they raid white neighborhoods, the phones to the police chief, the DA and the mayor will ring with angry campaign contributors demanding they stop. It is not just race but political connections that matter most. It is not just unaccountable cops, but unaccountable politicians.

The Nevada Legislature has mandated body cameras for the police. That is a good first step. However, a report by the ACLU has revealed far too many bills pending in Carson City that would overcriminalize non-violent acts. In order to cease being seen as an occupying army, the opportunities for police confrontation with citizens needs to be limited. Urban knife control has the same racist roots as urban gun control. Poor people cannot afford the senseless fines and bench warrants meted out by greedy governments. It is state power, not racism, that is the real problem. Conservatives should instinctively understand that. Liberals should shed their naive belief in big-government solutions. If we really want freedom, opportunity and safety, we need to talk with each other, not at each other.