Defunding Civilization | Opinion

It started long before professional athletes, celebrated solely for their ball-handling prowess in a game that Americans like to watch, "took a knee" to exhibit their disrespect for the country that secures their liberty and pays their exorbitant salaries.

Their vision of American society as irredeemable—suitable to being broken down with a sledgehammer, rather than adjusted with precision tools—has grown steadily in popularity over several decades. As that message has now taken over the media, academia and even much of Capitol Hill, we should not be surprised that the violent upheaval that is its goal is now being realized.

That previous statement was no error. The violence in our streets is not the means to an end, the method by which to achieve a utopian dream. The brutality is an end to itself.

In Richmond, Virginia, rioters set fire to a house with a child inside, and then blocked police and fire equipment trying to reach the home. Think about that for a moment. Then ponder the level of moral depravity necessary to confuse such obvious barbarism with peaceful protest, and the number of media outlets and members of Congress who did precisely that.

After months of violence in Portland, the governor of Oregon finally found time to condemn not the rioting "protesters," but the federal agents sent to protect a federal courthouse from destruction. She called them an "occupying force," employing dystopian language against public servants there to protect federal property—our property—from being set aflame.

For its part, the City of Portland's Department of Transportation termed standing guard outside a federal courthouse "unconstitutional federal aggression against our city," and levied a fine for erecting a fence designed to protect both the courthouse and the agents' very lives. Precisely how protecting a courthouse constitutes "aggression" was left to the imagination.

The following day, NBC News bemoaned the "series of adjustments for protesters in Portland," taking at face value the claim that federal agents fired tear gas at protesters merely "twirling hula hoops and stuff." Again, the reader was left to theorize how the conflict "intensified" when federal agents arrived following weeks of rioting, or how twirling hula hoops morphed into Molotov cocktails.

When the goal is anarchy, any pretense will do.

Let's be honest: Derek Chauvin is an awfully poor poster boy for "systemic racism" requiring the overturning of American civilization. He served under a police chief who is a person of color (appointed by a Democratic mayor), an unimaginable relationship in America's racist past that is commonplace today. And more importantly, Chauvin had a long record of complaints during his time with the police force, including multiple shootings and complaints regarding overuse of force. No one has asserted a pattern of racial bias in those previous incidents.

BLM signs in Brooklyn, New York
BLM signs in Brooklyn, New York Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images

One of the other officers charged for abetting George Floyd's murder is himself a member of a persecuted minority. Tou Thao is Hmong; his family, forced to flee the Vietnamese, found a new home in America.

What, precisely, needs to be fixed at a systemic level, regarding all of the above? It is relatively obvious: a greater effort to root out bad, violent cops, the sort who would lean on a man's neck for eight minutes while his victim begged for mercy, or who would stand by and watch. All of us should back that endeavor—as do the overwhelming majority of police chiefs and forces.

It should be obvious both that police work is necessary and helpful for the law-abiding, and that most who choose that profession hope to genuinely serve the public. And no one has suffered more from the violence and vandalism than the under-served communities that the rioters claim to support.

The key problem with the demonization of law enforcement, apologetics for violent riots and even taking a knee, is that one searches the globe in vain for a national government doing a substantially better job. And when one encounters a government dealing with racial diversity—and even animosity—yet striving similarly for safety and equality, such as Israel, we find that the same people calling to defund public safety in America would also defund defense from murderous terrorism abroad. So is their goal to disrupt a hopelessly broken system, or to destroy the best that civilization presently has to offer?

They would be better off finding another locale with true, systemic disregard for human rights in which to launch their utopian commune. There, they could show how superior it is to hide gun violence, rampant drug use and even the sexual assault of a juvenile from law enforcement.

All they would need is a totalitarian leader who responded with similar tolerance for "autonomous zones" as that of leftist American mayors, rather than with live ammunition.

Most of us recognize that for all its flaws, America remains the shining city on the hill depicted by Ronald Reagan, an exemplar to most of the world as to how it can be done better. And that's not something the sane among us should wish to defund.

Rabbi Yaakov Menken is the managing director of the Coalition for Jewish Values.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.