Wolf-Criers Go Double or Mutton

Every dog has his day. The shepherd breeds got theirs on Christmas with the limited release of American Sniper. The film gives mainstream traction to the idea that armed government employees are to society what guard dogs are to livestock. Rush Limbaugh couldn’t resist all the hype and crashed in January 27th. That’s when the schlock-jock declared himself an equal to a soldier, a cop or any other member of the packs that watch our backs. So far neither the Pentagon nor the constabulary has driven him back to the herd.

Going to the dogs is the latest craze for anyone looking to come off as a hero. If you haven’t heard about it stop grazing and listen up.

Overkill: The Rise of ... Radley Balko Check Amazon for Pricing. Retired US Army Lt. Col. Dave Grossman is, supposedly, “without a doubt the world’s foremost authority on human aggression and violence.” These credentials make his essay, On Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs, a primer of the subject. It breaks the human race down into those 3 basic beasts. The theory goes that by and large ordinary folks are sheep, “kind, gentle, productive creatures that can only hurt one another by accident.” “Then there are the wolves and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy.” Or would rather, if our deliverers weren’t ready at a moment’s notice to interrupt the chow down. These are the “sheepdogs” who “live to protect the flock and confront the wolf.”

“Everyone has been given a gift in life,” he explains. “Some people have a gift for science and some have a flair for art. And warriors have been given the gift of aggression. They would no more misuse this gift than a doctor would misuse his healing arts, but they yearn for the opportunity to use their gift to help others.”

Aggression’s foremost authority doesn’t cover what man’s best friend does for satisfaction when there’s none of what he yearns for around. Rise of the Warrior Co... Radley Balko Best Price: $3.56 Buy New $10.95 (as of 05:55 UTC - Details)

Homer Simpson didn’t mince it: “Finally a way to combine my love of helping people with my love of hurting people.”

Ungrateful sheep aren’t at all sure which love watch doggie stays true to in a pinch.

If being likened to a ruminant doesn’t work for you Grossman adds: “I mean nothing negative by calling them sheep. To me it is like the pretty, blue robin’s egg. Inside it is soft and gooey but someday it will grow into something wonderful. But the egg cannot survive without its hard blue shell.” Soft, gooey and wonderful; no wonder those bad old wolves can’t get enough of us. Eggs and A Government of Wolves... John W. Whitehead Best Price: $1.16 Buy New $2.99 (as of 10:15 UTC - Details) mutton sound like the next culinary sensation.

However you rate him as a writer Grossmann, who teaches at West Point, could do better picking examples. The Columbine High School shooting of 1999 is the first one he chooses to make his point, claiming:

“When the school was under attack, however, and the SWAT teams were clearing the rooms and hallways, the officers had to physically peel those clinging, sobbing kids off them. This is how the little lambs feel about their sheepdog when the wolf is at the door.”

The professor should recheck his facts. No policeman, SWAT or otherwise, was ever inside the school while the attack was underway. Harris and Klebold killed themselves at 12:08. The first report of a SWAT team in the building comes after 12:40. His source for the images of craven students is not revealed. Numerous photographs depict the children, including wounded ones, force How America Was Lost: ... Roberts, Dr. Paul Craig Best Price: $5.35 Buy New $2.99 (as of 10:30 UTC - Details) marched out POW style hands on heads. If there was any clinging and sobbing going on maybe that was because it took responders until after 3 P.M. to reach the areas where violence occurred. Most victims were shot before noon. We still haven’t gotten a full count of how many rounds SWAT let off inside the school well after active threats ceased. Nor any description of what they were firing at.

To get another take of a very similar view listen to Sgt. Glenn French, Team Commander for the Special Response Team, of Sterling Heights Michigan. His city of about 130,000 employs 250 in its police department and faces a little over 200 violent crimes per year. 182 of these were simple assaults in 2012. According to its crime rate is less than half the average for the United States. And he says:

“Cops on the beat are facing the same dangers on the streets as our brave soldiers do in war.”

Sociopath: Inside the ... Paul Sorensen Best Price: $11.82 Buy New $11.87 (as of 03:20 UTC - Details) French points out that 1,831 cops, as opposed to 1,789 military personnel in Afghanistan, were killed in the line of duty from 2001 to 2013. By his lights this proves there’s a war raging on Main Street and we’re all bleating safely behind the thin blue line. The sergeant neglects to account for a few incompatibilities between his stats.

Roughly half those police died in accidents whereas only about 16% of military deaths in Afghanistan had non-hostile causes. US presence in the theater didn’t begin until October of 2001. Maximum US force levels in Afghanistan never exceeded 63,500, in 8 of the years he includes it was less than half that. Pro-rated overall troop strength was considerably less than 1/20th of the total national constabulary. Afghanistan has a population one tenth the size of the US. Comparing the two fatality rates is statistically akin to equating Canada’s population to China’s.

Other comments from French exhibit more contempt for Americans and their way of life than the truth:

“Why shouldn’t officers utilize the same technologies, weapons and tactics that our military comrades do in war? We should and we will.” The Lone Gladio Sibel D. Edmonds Best Price: $2.36 Buy New $15.49 (as of 03:55 UTC - Details)

His jurisdiction averaged 2 murders per year over the last decade. That includes one policeman, officer Mark Anthony Sawyers, lost to gunfire in 2004. Calling Sterling Heights a battle, or even skirmish, zone is a certifiable fantasy. Deploying combat grade ordnance in that environment can only serve the purpose of subjugating and intimidating the public.  The reason they “shouldn’t” is that they are deprived of any necessity. The reason they do, as The Economist pointed out 16 years ago, is that they want to.

“Black helicopters and mysterious warriors are America’s answer to the evil men that the anti-SWAT crowd wouldn’t dare face.”

SWAT squads typically make their assaults with complete surprise in the wee hours wearing body armor, bullet proof helmets, carrying overwhelming firepower and enjoying numerical superiority of at least 15 to 1. If we lived in a country where the pluck for a dare with these odds was uncommon the Atlantic Wall would have been breached from the east. A guy like Audie Murphy We Who Dared to Say No... Best Price: $2.50 Buy New $14.75 (as of 08:10 UTC - Details) couldn’t have resisted laughing in the Sargeant’s face. SWAT takes little more valor than poking an animal in a cage.

We think of responsible human beings as capable of acting with some discretion. Much less is expected from an animal no matter how well bred. A Chicago judge found a cop justified February 3 in fatally firing beanbags from a 12 gauge shotgun at 95 year old WWII veteran armed with a shoehorn. Anyone that gutless without a badge wouldn’t dare to show his face.

20 years ago a deranged man entered a restaurant where I bartended wielding a 5 foot walking stick an inch and half in diameter. The 40ish, 5’10” 200 pounder was behaving erratically and people were worried. Amid brief conversation with the guy I seized the staff swinging myself between him and the object. As the pole popped from the man’s grip the owner, a woman who weighed all of 100 lbs., grabbed it away and returned to her drink at the bar. The professionals of the police would never settle for this efficient resolution. Aggression “experts” can’t even disarm a harmless crank without a tediously elaborate ritual. The poor guy could only depart cuffed, pummeled or dead according to the cop code of honor. He left Where the Buffalo Roam, a long gone Fredericksburg, Va. watering hole, stickless but unscathed.

Whatever Grossman “mean”[s] armed authorities who think of Americans as “sheep” can’t help but betray public trust. Philosophically justified notions of superiority plant deep comfortable roots. Youtube videos catching cops behaving like common punks don’t knock them down one peg. When you place sheepdog hoop-la and the youtubes side by side the country takes a place in the company of global sick jokes. The Economist took note of American police amok in at least 4 separate issues last year alone. Cops demand the militancy go on whatever the consequences. Even the subjects who kept on shocking in the Milgram experiments displayed distress and put up some resistance.

Sgt. French wrote his piece, Police Militarization and an Argument in Favor of Black Helicopters, in response to Radley Balko’s, Overkill:The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America. You have to question the merits of any case that consistently relies on half-truths, distortions and outright lies. French asks: “What is it with the growing concept that SWAT teams shouldn’t exist.” Balko has never said anything about getting rid of Special Weapons and Tactics teams. His radical recommendation is that they be used appropriately and held accountable. SWAT was sold to the public as a means of dealing with hostage situations, shooting incidents and desperados on the lam. Only 7% of tactical raids serve such purposes. It’s the other 93% that go after football wagering, poker games, liquor violations, barber licensing, petty drug consumption and common scofflaws Balko takes on.

“Any sheepdog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed,” Grossman maintains completely unrestrained by reality. Less ovine members of the flock don’t need academic studies to know lawmen seldom face the music for heinous crime. We have them though for anyone innocent enough to think otherwise. Police treatment of the disabled, emotionally distraught and non-English speaking reveals what a dog about the business of violent opportunity will stoop to.

Anybody on the lookout for the right moment to break bad, whatever his credentials or occupation, is a pathological threat. Lay people frequently do better reducing tensions, averting unnecessary confrontations and minimizing human suffering than the professionals. Grossman preaches to police choirs all over the country. It would be interesting to find out how much skeptical inquiry occurs during the Q and A period of these events. Do any of his students ever notice how much he makes up as he goes along?

The violent crime rate has plunged roughly 50% over the past 20 years. Police budgets and hiring policies haven’t contracted accordingly. Expansion in a down market can only go on with the element of coercion. Public employees yearning to bestow aggressive gifts make their own laws of supply and demand. An unwritten one says society owes a debt to anyone in law enforcement dreaming of heroism.

Delusions of grandeur are on ideal foundation for a criminal career. Sociopaths see multitudes of sheep, peasants, losers, weaklings and sub-humans blocking their destiny. Everyone gains when important people, like themselves, are granted special rights of way. When cops take the law into their own hands thousands of legally baseless judicial decisions wink back at them. While government experts compare us to unhatched eggs it’s silly to imagine we’re all peers in the eyes of the courts.

The US was invented with the idea of a right to fend for yourself without unnecessary interference. Nobody wanted British soldiers in their home or bossing them around on the street. Royalist PR men knew better than to try sailing out the notion of lobster-backs as colonial sheepdogs. Rush Limbaugh, the author of Rush Revere tales, peddles Grossman’s flimflam because he thinks a lot less of his country than the Tories did. That explains why he hasn’t been called out by the gendarmerie for claiming to be one of them.

Professor Grossman would gladly have Samuel Whittemore yelping to his tune. Whittemore was a 78 year old farmer in 1775. He single handedly took on a British brigade returning from engagements at Lexington and Concord. After killing 3 redcoats with gunfire he drew his sword facing musket and bayonet. Thought a goner and left bleeding profusely the old man lived 18 more years. British forces were the legitimate authority by every law of the era. The Declaration of Independence was still 14 months away.

Whittemore attacked a passing detachment that never so much as stepped onto to his property for a drink from the well. They posed no threat to him or his kin. Hence, using DHS, the FBI, national security think tank and the Southern Poverty Law Center profiles, this agrarian populist militant going on 80 would have to be classed as a wolf. How much more justified are the uncounted ranks of Americans killed, maimed or wounded in any semblance of defensive posture during midnight no-knock tactical raids on their homes?

A cop driving a tank down a suburban street needs no discretion on his mission of valor. Churchill said: “If you make ten thousand regulations you destroy all respect for the law.” The ones struggling to meet the demands of authoritarian chaos are Grossman’s beloved sheep. The others biding their time miserably in fleece costumes are what we once called Americans.

Political Theatre

LRC Blog

LRC Podcasts