RedState: The Troubling Truth About Dallas
Now let’s take a step back and look at the forces that would drive someone to do something like this yesterday. Here’s the reality that we don’t often talk about - that societies are held together less by laws and force and threats of force than we are by ethereal and fragile concepts like mutual respect and belief in the justness of the system itself.
In America, there are 376 police officers per 100,000 citizens - or one police officer per every 266 citizens. Stop and think about that. Could every police officer in America maintain order over 266 unruly people who had no respect for him him or the badge he wields? Absolutely not. The only thing that makes the situation even a little bit tenable is that the vast majority of people never think about confronting or challenging a police officer, and instead get up each day with the commitment to live their lives peacefully and lawfully, because they believe a) that they live in a society that is basically just and b) they believe that the few policemen who do exist will be there to protect them if something goes wrong and c) they have faith, by and large, that if someone commits a crime against them, they will be caught and punished.
Think, though, about what happens when these invisible bonds that are the most important part of maintaining law and order begin to dissolve - especially within a given subcommunity. Perception is, quite often, more important than reality. We are, in addition, creatures of our upbringing. The way our parents raise us to think about people and institutions shapes us to degrees that we often can’t or won’t acknowledge.
I think the evidence would show that the vast majority of police do their jobs with the greatest professionalism possible. I don’t think that’s a sufficient answer to the reality of lingering mistrust between police and minority communities, especially in certain areas of the country. And the proliferation of cell phone video recording has really confirmed (in their minds) something they have long anecdotally believed or been taught - that police often interact with minority communities in different ways than they do with the white community.
And here’s the most important part: when they do so, they never or almost never face punishment.