Armed Bureaucrats Act Like Cowards

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American nuclear submarine, giving military donors what some commentators
call a taxpayer-funded carnival ride, slams into a Japanese fishing
boat during a high-thrust "training exercise" meant to
impress the civilians rather than train anybody for anything. As
the Japanese crew and passengers struggle for life, the U.S. Navy
crew stands and watches from the top of the sub without doing anything.

seas were too choppy, they said, although Japanese fishermen tell
reporters that the seas weren't even choppy enough to send water
into their flimsy lifeboats.

at least these "brave" American sailors weren't standing
around eating donuts while the Japanese struggled in the water.
We leave that sort of thing to the Philadelphia police and fire
fighters. In a videotaped "rescue" along the Schuylkill
River last May they did nothing other than watch for a half-hour
or so as a troubled man clung to the side of a bridge, then jumped
off and drowned.

fairness, I'm not sure if the dozens of Philly cops and rescue workers
were actually eating donuts or cheesesteaks as Matthew Beaufort
died, but they were joking around as the tragic event transpired.
It took a roller-blading passerby and another bystander to attempt
a rescue.

was documented in a "Dateline NBC" special aired recently.
There were plenty of overweight, overpaid cops and firefighters
on the scene. They had a long time to bring a boat under the bridge
from a nearby police boathouse as Beaufort threatened to jump. Only
after the two volunteers dragged the drowning man onto the shore
did Philly's finest begin to take their rescue equipment down to
the river. And the officials wouldn't touch Beaufort or try to resuscitate
him until the rubber gloves and other safety equipment was on the
scene. They left the dirty work for the brave volunteers.

infuriating response didn't merit a rebuke from the police commissioner,
who actually praised the assembled cops for their efforts after
a public outcry ensued.

types of incidents, where American cops and soldiers act with cowardice
and contempt for the people they're supposed to be protecting, are
now commonplace. Yet some conservatives refuse to see what's going
on. They understand how oppressive government bureaucrats can be,
yet they give a pass to police officers and the military in the
mistaken belief that these armed bureaucrats are somehow different
from other varieties.

argument is that police and military are doing jobs that the government
must do. Someone's got to catch the thugs, and someone has to protect
the nation from armed invaders. Maybe so. But something has shifted
in recent years. Police increasingly view average citizens with
contempt, something no doubt reinforced in all those federal training
programs. And very little that our Imperial Military does has anything
to do with defending America from invasion.

recall a photograph from a year or two ago in the local newspaper.
A black tank-like vehicle drove through a suburban neighborhood
accompanied by police officers wearing military-style outfits and
clutching impressive firepower. They were going to the home of an
aging physician to question him in a local crime case. The doctor
wasn't holed up or brandishing firearms. Yet the local cops thought
it necessary to approach the situation as if they were an invading

is typical. In recent months, California officers shot a young boy
in the back during a drug raid; shot to death an elderly man as
they entered the wrong home in a drug raid; shot to death a homeless
woman; shot in the back a Halloween partygoer holding a toy gun;
shot to death a young woman sleeping in her car after her relatives
called them for help. Each time, the cops say what their union lawyers
tell them to say: "I believed that my life was in danger."

is, police are increasingly unwilling to put themselves at the slightest
risk, even though that's the nature of police work. Far better to
shoot an innocent person than risk harm to themselves. Our military
men and women are worse, as they drop bombs on targets from the
stratosphere. Who cares if they accidentally kill and maim scores
of innocent civilians, so long as American troops stay completely
out of harm's way?

is cowardly and evil.

recent article I wrote on workplace shootings was a real eye-opener
on this score. In case after case, the cops or deputies did nothing
while a madman shot up a downtown office building, a McDonald's
restaurant, Columbine high school. The officials were unwilling
to endure risk, so they surrounded the building and waited while
innocents died en masse.

every time law enforcement officials bargain for a new contract,
they present themselves as the defenders of the populace – in order
to justify their outrageously high salaries. Every time officials
further regulate guns they make it more imperative that Americans
rely on these cowards for their safety. This is foolhardy.

police officers and soldiers may not yet be our enemies, but they
certainly are not our friends or protectors. If trouble calls, I'd
suggest relying on your own resources.

28, 2001

Greenhut is an editorial writer at the Orange County Register
in Santa Ana, Calif.

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