The world is not a binary place. People and events can sometimes be simple and can sometimes be complicated. Simple events can have tangentially related complicated issues involved and complicated events can have tangentially related simple issues involves.
It is perfectly fine to think Michael Brown was no saint. Based on what we know, it seems Mr. Brown participated in a shop lifting incident before he died. We know also from the Chief of Police that the police officer who shot Mr. Brown did not know about the incident when he first stopped Mr. Brown.
It is also perfectly fine to think the rioters should be shot on sight as they attempt to vandalize and damage the property and possibly the lives of others. There should be no excuse for rioting and it seems in these sorts of situations not only does it happen more and more, but there are those who wish to give license to it and fan the flames of a grievance culture related thereto.
It is perfectly fine to think Mr. Brown was no saint, the rioters should be punished, and in addition to both of those, to think the police in Ferguson, MO behaved badly too. Before rioting even began the police in Ferguson decided to behave like soldiers instead of police.
Regardless of where conservatives fall on the spectrum of how they see Ferguson, MO, conservatives should also be willing to agree on two things.
First, as someone on twitter noted, if we say most conservatives are not racist despite what the left would have us believe, we should be willing to believe that not all of the black community is prone to riot when these terrible things happen.
Second, and even more importantly, conservatives who lament the abuses of a big federal government should not so easily give a pass to state and local government. In fact, if a government is big enough to give us everything, it is big enough to take it all away and that government may not be Washington, but your state or local community. Many liberals are today upset at the police in Ferguson, MO, but give a complete pass to the IRS’s political persecutions. Conservatives upset at the IRS, EPA, DOJ, etc. should not give a blanket pass to state and local authorities. Frankly, we should also not give a pass to Republican administrations on these issues.
Conservatives are a law and order bunch. It is, in fact, the natural order to gather into societies and cede our individual rights of protection to a governmental body that wields the sword on our behalf. But that sword can be turned on us. As we become a society where more and more legislation and regulation causes more and more well meaning people to accidentally run afoul of laws and rules, we should be more concerned with militarizing our police and extending the jurisdictions of law enforcement agencies.
Police do a good and necessary job. But if power corrupts men and absolute power corrupts absolutely, we should be wary of putting our neighborhood man in blue in camouflage, a helmet, and an AR-15 inside an armored personnel carrier except in the most serious of circumstances.
No conservative is saying police do not need to be able to outshoot and out arm the bad guys. But many of us are saying police are more quickly than ever before resorting to playing soldier when they could accomplish the same as just a policeman.
One can view the events of Ferguson, MO and decide it was a good call to, before rioting even began, suit up the police as soldiers. But the world is not binary. Regardless of how one views the events of Ferguson, we should all be troubled by the over-militarization of routine police activity. We should all be troubled at the growing number of well documented cases of heavy handed local and state police. Being a conservative means we should support the judicious use of force. It also means that, unlike liberals who routinely turn a blind eye to the abuses of the state targeted toward their opponents, we should not simply presume the ends justify the means.