Monday, December 8, 2014

Reihan Salam — The Conservative Case for Reforming the Police

Protesters take part in a demonstration demanding justice for the death of Eric Garner in Manhattan on Dec. 5, 2014.

If a neoconservative is a liberal who has been mugged by reality, as Irving Kristol once put it, what do you call a conservative faced with video footage of the chokehold death of Eric Garner, a man the New York Police Department confronted for the crime of selling contraband cigarettes?
In the wake of the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, conservatives and liberals found themselves taking familiar stances. Those on the right were by and large inclined to give a local police officer the benefit of the doubt. Those on the left maintained that use of lethal force against Brown was unjustified, and that the failure to indict Darren Wilson reflected the deeply ingrained racism of the American criminal justice system.

The case of Garner has met with a strikingly different response from conservatives, as Tim Lee of Vox recently observed. Bill O’Reilly of Fox News, a man known for channeling the populist id of older white conservatives, somberly expressed his horror at Garner’s death on Wednesday night. More pointedly, Tim Carney, a leading light of the conservative intelligentsia and a columnist for the Washington Examiner, pointed to Garner’s death of an illustration of the dangers of an unaccountable, excessively strong government.

Read complete article here