So let me get this straight — the NFL is trying to stop players from kneeling during the national anthem in protest law of enforcement’s treatment of African-Americans, but when the president of the U.S. actively attacks the ethics and credibility of law enforcement who are investigating him, that’s OK?
I mean, between the two of them, it’s the president of the U.S. who is actually damaging law enforcement’s ability to pursue criminal activity, and is perhaps even covering up criminal behavior. NFL players are protesting police tactics; Donald Trump is actively demeaning the honor and integrity of men and women who have taken oaths to serve their country, many of whom served with distinction in the line of fire.
If one is to believe that law enforcement really is as dirty as the president of the U.S. is saying, utterly incapable of conducting a fair investigation of people whose politics they may not share, then surely Black Lives Matter is correct in its assessment of law enforcement, too. Surely a group of people willing to spend years trying to frame the president of the U.S. would be willing to mistreat powerless minorities. And if the president is protesting it, why wouldn’t they?
It is crucially important to hold law enforcement agents accountable, because when you don’t, terrible things happen. We have all been shocked to learn that Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been separating children from their families at the border, by the thousands. A report prepared by the International Human Rights Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School also documents serious cases of abuse against children left in Homeland Security’s custody.
These are monstrous acts, paid for by our tax dollars. This is what happens when a bureaucracy with a badge is not held accountable, and does not hold its members accountable, for basic legal standards and basic human decency.
Nor is it an accident that atrocities like this are being perpetrated against undocumented immigrants and children first (I say first because, if left untreated, this rot will spread, until it touches someone you know who thinks they’re safe). We as a country have simply stopped caring about the well-being of the powerless. How else can we explain that so far in 2018, more American K-12 students have been killed in their schools than active American military personnel have died in the line of duty? We have all watched this epidemic spread, in real time, and done nothing. Literally nothing as the weakest among us are abused and killed. The same congressmen who held years of hearings over whether the American embassy in Benghazi, Libya, was adequately defended from an attack that killed four Americans, have turned a blind eye to the needs of all of America’s school children, who are still under attack.
This is also where Donald Trump and Black Lives Matter part ways, because Black Lives Matter is protesting to try to end abuses like this, whereas these abuses are the policies that President Trump has deliberately put into place.
This is one of America’s many ironic tragedies right now. President Trump is protesting that the law enforcement agencies investigating him are unaccountable, even as he actively promotes policies that undermine the accountability of law enforcement agencies. It is one thing to call for law enforcement reform; that’s unassailably legitimate, whether you’re a Black Lives Matter or a Second Amendment activist. But let us be clear — when Trump talks about the “deep state,” what he means is the “rule of law,” people whose loyalty is to the law rather than to politicians or political party. By attacking the principle and practice of the independence of law enforcement and the judiciary, Trump is making political witch hunts much more likely, not less.
It will start with the people we’re not paying attention to, which is why protests to call attention to them is so important. But protests are not enough. The answer is to make law enforcement more accountable, first to the law, then to the communities it polices, but never, ever the politicians looking for power. They will abuse it every time, calling for investigations of their political enemies.