Progressive Ideas: Not Just Wrong, But Potentially Deadly

Police tape reads Police Line Do Not Cross with cop car lights in background

I wrote this article right after the de Blasio fiasco in New York City, and before the recent Baltimore fiasco. It applies to both of them; along with the next one. They’re all caused by the toxicity of so-called progressive ideas.

A reader writes:

I just finished reading your excellent article about the quandary that liberal Mayor Bill de Blasio has gotten himself into with his anti-police comments that alienated the entire police force. [The Daily Dose of Reason for 1/6/15 at, “The Mayor of New York Gets Mugged by Reality”]

Here is a NY Times article [from 1/6/15, “Life in New York City, Where Arrests Are Down and Tickets Are Rarities”] that details the sharp decline in arrests and police enforcement throughout the city following the shooting deaths of the two Brooklyn officers. The NY Post has also written that arrests are down 66% and parking tickets down 90% since the shootings.

It makes sense. A commander-in-chief cannot have control of his forces without their respect. It’s easy to understand why the police do not respect Mayor de Blasio. He rode to office on the idea that racism is an institutionalized part of society, including the police force. Up to only a couple of months prior to the shooting of New York City police officers, he appeared with charlatan Al Sharpton and President Obama at the White House, roundly condemning the racism of police officers. He displays a prejudice against the police no different than the sort of prejudice implied by the false belief that “all black people are a certain way,” and so forth.

As I pointed out in my article, de Blasio is like the typical “liberal” on a collision course with reality. He condemns and harps on the police, implying that they’re racist until or unless proven otherwise, and then he expects them to competently perform their jobs. This differs little, in principle, from a commander-in-chief of the U.S. Armed Forces building his career on the premise that military people, as individuals, are irrational and unjust. Even with liberal progressive types, this has rarely been the case. While liberals and progressives are usually quick to condemn any assertive foreign and defense policy on the part of the United States, they are generally quick to distinguish the policy (which they oppose) from the soldiers themselves, who are merely following orders.

Mayor de Blasio is different. All along, he has been criticizing the police for being racist. How are they supposed to take this? Consider a good, decent police officer. Presumably there are many good police officers, otherwise the streets of New York would have long since descended into chaos. A good and decent police officer is merely trying to do his job, uphold the law and keep dangerous people off the streets. What is he supposed to think or feel when his commander-in-chief runs around the country declaring that racism is rampant in the police force, including in his own city? What business does de Blasio have being angry or offended when these police begin to quietly protest under the yoke of his nearly constant condemnations? He’s lucky they haven’t (yet) walked off the job.

De Blasio has learned that while his proclamations of political correctness work quite well with his hard-core progressive Democrat voting constituency in New York City, they don’t play so well with the police he condemns and now claims to love and need. It would be funny if the stakes were not so serious.

The reader continues: It’s hard to say whether it is an organized or “silent” protest by the NYC police department, or simply a rational response to the Mayor’s comments that has had the effect of inciting violence against police. Why would a policeman on the street want to risk getting shot at by criminals filled with racial hatred toward the police, who now feel supported by government officials in committing acts of violence toward police?

This is a wider problem than the mayor of New York and his police department. It has to do with contemporary “liberalism” or “progressivism” as we know it.

According to the progressive ideology, people are the product of their race. Note that this is the same underlying premise as the Nazi movement, although progressives see themselves as the opposite extreme of the Nazis. Nevertheless, the shoe certainly fits. Progressives believe that whites are – by nature – racist, and cannot help but oppress black people and other people deemed minorities or victims by progressives. It’s up to black people – and the occasional virtuous white progressive, such as Mayor de Blasio – to right the wrongs that whites cannot help but commit.

Everything de Blasio has said up to now, and will continue to believe regardless of what he claims at the funerals of various slain police officers, is consistent with the underlying premise of progressivism. One of the many contradictions and errors in this attitude is precisely what’s happening now in New York:

The safety and basic stability of the city depends on the very thing that de Blasio condemns. Progressives insist that they’re not against police, but against racism. But when you take it for granted that police officers are racist, you undermine the authority of those police officers. You count on those police officers to defend you while – at one and the same time – you claim to be correcting the wrongs created by their basic nature or status.

The reader correctly asks what police officers are supposed to feel about all this. But, even further: What are citizens supposed to feel? Their leader has basically said that the people charged with keeping order in the city – protecting basic property rights and keeping violent offenders restrained and afraid – are immoral and unjust. This gives aid and comfort to the criminals, who now see that the people question the very moral authority of the individuals charged with protecting them from themselves – the criminals.

It’s a wider problem with progressivism itself, beyond even the false belief that (most) white people are, by nature, racist. Progressivism, in nearly all of its social and economic policies, counts on the virtue of those whom they morally condemn. The most obvious example is the rich and wealthy. The rich and the wealthy are, according to progressives, by definition guilty. The only way they can hope to atone for this guilt –caused by having more wealth than others – is to give most (or even all) of it back. This enables the progressives to spend it on all manner of social welfare programs, programs which might or might not have anything to do with anybody’s welfare (aside from that of the progressives themselves).

Yet the contradiction is obvious: Progressives are relying on the merit of the wealthy to keep producing that loot. They have to, because all loot is ultimately created by somebody –and most of the wealth being looted is taken from people who earned it by creating successful enterprises. Even in the case of those who inherit great wealth, the continued preservation of that wealth requires virtue, rationality, competence and intelligence in those who have the money. Otherwise it would all be gone within a generation.

Progressivism, whether it’s in economics or with respect to the police in New York City, counts on the virtue of the people it morally condemns.

It’s an impossible contradiction. Either these police are racist, as their mayor and other progressives have claimed all along, in which case they cannot be trusted to ensure the safety of innocent citizens; or they are for the most part decent and well-meaning people who do a great job of making New York a magnificent and largely safe place to live. If the latter is true – and the evidence of recent decades certainly supports this – then what business does the mayor have calling them racist? And then acting conciliatory when doing so leads to disaster?

Will de Blasio and other progressives be called on their contradictions and be held accountable by being removed from office, or becoming unpopular? Not if history is any guide, at least not in places such as New York where political progressivism is dominant.

The reader continues: Intended or not, the mayor of NYC has fostered a situation where infractions, misdemeanors and felonies will predictably rise (even dramatically) across the city. That is the reality that New Yorkers and the mayor now face as a consequence of their ideas.

New York voters are overwhelmingly liberal; they voted for de Blasio. It will be interesting to see whether those same voters will recognize the connection between their widely held ideas and the rising level of crime they will be forced to endure. This details the sharp decline in arrests and police enforcement throughout the city following the shooting deaths of the two Brooklyn officers. The NY Post has also written that arrests are down 66% and parking tickets down 90% since the shootings.

Progressivism holds that if black people are arrested, or given parking tickets in numbers out of proportion to their percentage within the population, then the actions of the police (particularly if they are white) are by definition racist. Given such a premise, the only policy one can logically implement is to make sure fewer black people get parking tickets or are restrained or punished when found stealing or initiating violence against others.

If the previous actions of the police were, in fact, racially biased, then this easing up on police activity will, of course, be justified. But what happens if the previous arrests of black people – out of proportion to the number of black people in the population – were the arrests of actual criminals? The answer is obvious.

Safety will be sacrificed for the sake of political correctness, i.e., for the viewpoints and attitudes of people like Mayor de Blasio and the voters who continue to support him. In order to prove they are not racist, police will be forced to go easier on black people, even if they’re actually criminals.

Politicians and ideologues like Mayor de Blasio are so steeped in their progressive ideology that they don’t care to see what they’re doing.

They like to make black people into victims, and they like to hear themselves prattle on that cops are racists who harass black people, even if the evidence doesn’t support them. They’re motivated to do this because they have some kind of rescuing complex combined with the lust for power. Progressives in power turn victim groups into victims – even in defiance of the facts – because it satisfies their need to be seen as heroes and to acquire power. The typical progressive out of power applauds and approves these actions, because it makes the progressive feel good about him- or herself and virtuous in the eyes of their progressive friends and associates.

It’s a dysfunctional, unjust mess. And it’s downright dangerous when they use the NYPD to play out their mental malfunctions and issues.

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