You Can’t End the Police State Without Ending the Welfare State

With the recent police shooting in South Carolina topping off a growing list of “justifiable” police homicides, many Americans have become painfully aware of the tyrannical reality of the police state.

Many of the recent victims of police state brutality have a few things in common: they were black, they were originally stopped for misdemeanors, and they resisted arrest or failed to comply with police orders. None of these factors should, in any sense, carry a death sentence. But do these shootings indicate that police treat black people differently than white people? Yes and no.

It is true that the police have more run-ins with black people than white people. But that makes sense considering that black communities have a much higher rate of crime. The police will be wherever the crimes are, and there is no doubt that some profiling will occur based on probabilities. This is not necessarily racism, though it is racial to some degree.

But a higher rate of interaction between police and black people does not explain the abnormal rate at which misdemeanors effectively turn into capital offenses. I think the most important factor in this discussion is the welfare state. Allow me to explain.

There is a disconnect between the way that the civil government views black people and the way black people would like to be viewed. The civil government largely views black communities as dependent communities. That’s not to say that all black people are on welfare. But, by and large, black communities are also welfare communities.

This has many consequences. For one, most children born in black communities have no father figure in their lives. And their mothers depend on the state for subsistence. So the most natural father figure is the police man. He is the representative of the entity that provides.

This is just reality, by the way. The civil government is regularly criticized for treating black people like children. But that is just a natural consequence of reality. If you are responsible for someone, you tend to treat that person like you would your own child. When you pay for someone’s life, you expect that they will follow your directives.

So it is natural that a welfare state becomes a paternal state that becomes a police state. The only real difference between black people and white people on this is that, for whatever reason, white people more generally follow the rules. In other words, police have become just as paternal with white people as they have with black people. The paternal state has spread its wings over us all. But white people don’t resent this quite as much usually.

Think about all the interactions between police and black men that have ended tragically. In every case, the black man refused to comply. Many white people watch these videos and say, “Well, of course the police reacted like that. The guy shouldn’t have run away.” I hear that kind of stuff all the time. As if resisting arrest is just cause for capital punishment.

Every time I hear stuff like this, I think about my own children. I think about how there are times when one of my children, proud of her own officious rule-following, tattles on one of the other children. It’s strange to say it, but a lot of white people strike me the same way. We’re like the obedient children who can’t understand why our older brother hates dad so much.

The solution to this problem is really obvious, isn’t it? The only way to end the police state is to end the paternal state. Which means we have to end the welfare state. I appreciate the fact that black people are unwilling to practice a blind obedience to what they consider to be an abusive father figure. I think part of that is a projection of their experiences, or lack thereof, with their own fathers. Black fathers could remedy that just by being around and being kind. And they could also end the welfare state in black communities by taking care of their own children and the mothers of those children.

Because as long as Americans allow the State to take care of them, we shouldn’t be surprised when the State demands obedience, and punishes us when it doesn’t receive obedience. The first step in ending the police state is taking care of ourselves. We need to grow up and stop acting like children. Then maybe we’ll have cause to demand that police stop treating us like children.