Police Brutality, Derek Chauvin, George Floyd, Rousseau’s Social Contract Part 2

We continue from Police Brutality, Derek Chauvin, and the Death of George Floyd Part 1.

Preamble: Nothing that follows condones  violence, which in many cases is directed against those sympathetic  to the protestors, such as CNN and Reuters. Since nothing I write here will have any influence on protestors, this continues a focus on the roots of our national problem.

With every social problem, there are multiple angles, each with a distinct vocabulary. They may not seem to connect. In the last article, the word racism does not appear.  We focused on the psychology and training of the individual cop. Removing psychopaths from law enforcement could be the single most effective step against police brutality, which has a long history.

But psychology says nothing about the Social Contract, a concept introduced in 1762 by the great French thinker, Jean-Jacques Rousseau. The Contract has been in continuous evolution, serving as the basis of the American and French revolutions, the year 1848, and every modern democracy in every corner of the world. The two party system owes to Rousseau.

The Social Contract between a government and its citizens lays down the responsibilities of each. The book concludes with,

“Let us then admit that force does not create right, and that we are obliged to obey only legitimate powers”.

Whether they know or or not,  in their demand that all four police officers be tried for the murder of George Floyd, the protestors are invoking Rousseau. This may not be possible; one reason for the mere 3rd degree murder charge against Derek Chauvin may be fear of acquittal, with another round of riots.

(CNN) National security adviser: ‘I don’t think there’s systemic racism’ in US police forces. Quoting Robert O’Brien,

“No, I don’t think there’s systemic racism. I think 99.9% of our law enforcement officers are great Americans. Many of them are African American, Hispanic, Asian, they’re working the toughest neighborhood, they’ve got the hardest jobs to do in this country and I think they’re amazing, great Americans.”

This is easily contradicted:

  • If 5-10% of  males (Australian estimate), or 1-5% (other estimates) are workplace psychopaths, then 99.9% of cops can’t be great Americans. No sampling of any profession or group of Americans shows 99.9% of people you just want to love. There are lots of rotten people, everywhere you look.
  • A random sample of Minneapolis cops offers one murder suspect and three who let it happen. If one person murdered Derek Chauvin, while three others watched, are the three part of that 99.9% who are presumably saving lives and helping people?
  • How many callous souls does it take to say that, in at least some corners of the Minneapolis police, racism is an institution? Does it have to go all the way to  upper management? Could the term quasi-institutional apply?

The response to the tragedy of Minneapolis requires three forks. They barely intersect, yet all are required:

  • Mitigating the direct cause, preventing cops who shouldn’t be cops from becoming cops.
  • Fulfillment of the social contract.  In our culture, this means that crime is punished, even if the perp is a cop.  This won’t prevent a repetition, but the social contract demands it. Only then will the people consent to be governed.

The contract could also mean that for a cop to overlook a crime by his companions is a crime.

What about  racism itself?  Though it is unlikely that we will ever have a test for it, or a way of banishing it, a third fork is mandated:

  • Moral leadership.

In 1858, when a young United States was facing its greatest crisis, the Republican nominee for Senator of Illinois stepped up:

“A house divided against itself, cannot stand.”…It will become all one thing or all the other.

As in the time of Abraham Lincoln, a primal force rides on great expectation. What will the United States will become?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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