Friday, July 10, 2020

Defund the Police and Public Opinion

Defund definition that comes up on Google:
"prevent from continuing to receive funds"
This is not popular. It has been tested again and again and since normal people assume that what defund the police means to prevent the police from continuing to receive funds, they oppose it. Even black respondents are unenthusiastic. Why? Because people are not really interested in even cutting funding for the police; therefore they have even less interest in defunding them. They show far more interest in reforming police conduct.
The latest data along these lines comes from Pew. Besides showing very strong support across racial lines for various policing reforms, we have the result below on whether spending on policing should be increased, decreased or remain the same. The results by race are white 77 percent increase or stay the same/21 percent decrease; Hispanic 76 percent to 24 percent and even blacks 55 percent to 42 percent (just 22 percent want to decrease spending "a lot").
So why do activists and a considerable number of their liberal supporters keep raising this demand, despite the lack of support it generates? Perhaps they are neglecting the important fact that police, however flawed, are critical to public safety, a matter of great importance to the public at large and certainly for black citizens who live in working class and poor communities. That helps explain why, in the midst of all the protests about policy brutality blacks approve of the job policy are doing in their community 52-42 (Qunnipiac) and say they're favorable to the police in their community by 47-38 (Economist/YouGov).
Michael Javen Fortner, a black political scientist and author of the excellent Black Silent Majority: The Rockefeller Drug Laws and the Politics of Punishment, sums up this peculiar situation well:
"Philonise Floyd testified recently to the House Judiciary Committee about the death of his brother George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. “People of all backgrounds, genders and race have come together to demand change,” Floyd said. Pleading for comprehensive policing reform, Floyd asked Congress to “teach them what it means to treat people with empathy and respect. Teach them what necessary force is. Teach them that deadly force should be used rarely and only when life is at risk.” Unfortunately, Philonise Floyd’s earnest call for reform has been drowned out by an elite-driven narrative about race relations that is empirically weak, counterproductive, and not reflective of most black Americans’ attitudes and wishes..
We are witnessing the embourgeoisement of racial politics. A reading public not long ago captivated by Hillbilly Elegy is now obsessed with White Fragility. Each day, college-educated millennials race to social media to practice the rituals of wokeness by condemning various cultural artifacts as racist and policing the discourse. Statues are coming down, and the “b” in black is being capitalized. Corporations, private schools, and major philanthropic organizations are declaring that “black lives matter.”
Elite institutions have committed themselves to a theory, program, and performance increasingly detached from the aspirations, worldviews, and everyday concerns of millions of blacks. Activists have secured pledges to “defund” or “dismantle” police departments, but black Americans haven’t received concrete, alternative public-safety plans to curb violence. Most African-Americans clearly desire police reform over abolition. They echo Philonise Floyd’s mournful call. Their perspectives deserve consideration. Any “antiracist” movement that disregards how working and middle-class African-Americans define and pursue the good life is not worth its name."

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