The absolute worst answer to the problem of racism in our country is more racism.
The most foolish remedy to a corrupt government is no government at all.
And yet, we’re seeing both of those things in Milwaukee right now. Yes, I realize that the rioters on YouTube and cable news don’t represent everyone in Milwaukee but it would be foolish to ignore them.
While we were all busy watching Bolt and Phelps dominate the Olympics, they were cursing at police officers, lighting gas stations on fire and just praying for a member of law enforcement to lose his cool. They were saying how they refused to live with white people. They were threatening to slice open the heads of police officers. They were mocking black police officers. They were calling on people to stop burning down the city and take the violence to the suburbs instead. How noble.
Martin Luther King went to jail. Rosa Parks wouldn’t give up her seat. Rioters in Milwaukee are busting the windows out of police cars. Something has changed.
In much of the footage I saw from the weekend in Milwaukee, protesters were chanting the title of that old N.W.A. song. I’ll spare you the title. Just know that it’s a colorful way of expressing hatred of the police. As the crowd kept chanting, the line of police officers kept backing up. They stood arm in arm, absorbing the verbal assaults of the mob. At the command of their leader, the police fell back a few feet. And later, a few feet more. Finally, they climbed in their vans and left.
The crowd cheered.
They had finally gotten their way.
But is that really what they want?
True, none of us wants the local law enforcement setting up shop in our home. But neither do we want them packing up and moving out. It might make for a catchy song but it’s no way to live.
Here’s the reality that few people fail to recognize. There is no such thing as anarchy. There will always be government. It might be organized or it might be chaotic. It might be civil or it might be corrupt. But it will always be.
So the angry masses will never get their way. Sure, they might get their local police to leave the neighborhood. But those law men will only be replaced by lawless men who will demand the same authority as those before them only without any system of accountability. In Rwanda in the mid-1990s, the Hutus and the Tutsis couldn’t put their hostilities with one another to rest. As a result, the government collapsed. What followed wasn’t a group of people who promised to be nice to each other until things got back in order at the capital building. The result was genocide at the hands of local warlords. There is no such thing as anarchy.
There are others who would like to see the federal government become more involved in local police matters. If you think your city’s police department has problems, just wait until they have to start taking orders from Washington D.C.
Somewhere along the way, we forgot how to take things on a case by case basis in this country. When one black kid does something foolish, we want to blame his entire race. When one cop does something evil, rather than addressing that specific incident, we’d rather burn the whole system down. The race problems in the country require a surgeon’s precision. We have settled for a rioter’s brick. The folks at CNN, by the way, prefer the rioters brick. It does wonders for their ratings until the next plane disappears.
A free society depends on a responsible people. When a member of the police department steps out of line, the citizens can and should speak up. But they must speak carefully. They must, as the Bible says, be angry without sin (Ephesians 4:26). Perhaps that’s too much to ask for a society that has long since abandoned God. At the very least, they must realize that a properly functioning government is a gift (Romans 13:1-7). There are plenty of good police officers. And your neighborhood needs them.
So the next time you feel inclined to join in singing the lyrics to that N.W.A. song about the police, or worse, acting them out, think twice.
You just might get what you want.
And that’s really the last thing you want.