• Armed Bureaucrats Act Like Cowards

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    An
    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.

    The
    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.

    Well,
    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.

    In
    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.

    This
    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.

    This
    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.

    These
    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.

    The
    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.

    I
    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
    army.

    This
    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."

    Truth
    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?

    This
    is cowardly and evil.

    A
    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.

    Yet
    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.

    America's
    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.

    February
    28, 2001

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

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