Roger Stone: Police Militarization Hits Home for the Right

Image from CNN

Personally, I find Roger Stone’s arrest funny. Not because I believe he is guilty (I do but the humor doesn’t come from that) but because of the reaction of conservatives. If you read the American Thinker or any other right-wing news website, you’ll see them say that the FBI used “Gestapo” tactics. They talk about how Roger Stone’s disabled wife was terrified by the FBI’s high-handed tactics. They melodramatically ask if we’re in America anymore.

To them, I have one thing to say: We leftists told you so.

No-Knock Raids Aren’t New

The left has been advocating against the sort hyper-militarization and heavy-handed tactics the FBI displayed in Stone’s arrest for literal decades. To their credit, the more Libertarian end of the right has also joined in on these efforts (the Cato Institute for example). However, to say that the mainstream right has tended to be less enthusiastic about reining in police abuse is the understatement of the millennium. Anyone who calls for demilitarization of police, advocates for de-escalation training, or even taking the complaint review process out of the hands of other (probably biased) cops is routinely called a whiner trying to enforce “political correctness” at best or a cop-hater at worst. Either way, the grievances of police reform advocates are deemed invalid by the same people who weep for Roger Stone.

Indeed if you dig through the archives any of the sites that are calling Stone’s arrest something out of Nazi Germany, you’ll find a number of articles justifying excessive force if it’s being used on minorities, the disabled or people who are to the left of Pinochet. And many of the politicians pushing for heavy-handed police tactics are or have been aided in some way by Stone (or whatever political groups he’s part of) in the past. But because it’s Roger Stone, a right-wing white guy, conservatives complain that the FBI was too rough for even laying a finger on his poor little head and arresting Stone at their convenience rather than his own.

This is nothing new of course. If David Koresh or Randy Weaver had been leftists or if they had believed in a crazed up version of Islam instead of a crazed up version of Christianity, conservatives would have never given a rip about them.

Also, this is not to say that people on the center-left haven’t also been complicit in police militarization (particularly immediately after 9/11 when pretty much everybody was basically ready to sacrifice their firstborn to the ground cops walked on) but you sure see more defense of morally and Constitutionally dubious police tactics from the right than the left.

The Stone Raid was Preventable

The right had every chance in the world to prevent the high-handed tactics the FBI used on Stone. They could have called for an end to no-knock raids and other dangerous tactics. Instead, they defended them. If a minority family lost someone to such a raid, the right said that it was the fault of the family member that the cops were after (even if the dead person had nothing to do with that other person’s alleged crime). If the police were in the completely wrong house (something that happens only due to shoddy police work), the right said that mistakes happen and repeated that dumb saying about bad apples (ignoring the crucial second part of that saying). If a cop killed a pet in a no-knock raid, they said the owner didn’t do enough to stop the pet from freaking out about a bunch of armed men breaking into their house. If the dead person was a disabled person in a mental health crisis, the right called for a return to mass involuntary institutionalization, or at least ask why the disabled person wasn’t being supervised like a toddler (also, half of all people involved in botched police encounters are disabled).

Only when right-wing white people get treated harshly do right-wingers want to discuss de-escalation and alternatives to shock and awe tactics.

If you’re a Stone supporter who seriously wants to have a discussion about de-militarization /de-escalation tactics, welcome to the conversation. Sure, you probably only got concerned because it happened to someone like you, but that’s okay. A lot of people change political perceptions when they see that a bad status quo doesn’t only hurt people that aren’t like them. You’d be shocked by how many special needs parents thought that Medicaid was godless socialism until their kid needed it for example.

However, if you’re just mad that the FBI used these tactics on Roger Stone instead of a union leader or someone from a group like Black Lives Matter, go have a big bowl of perspective. Don’t cry that you’re not in America. For poor people, particularly poor people of color, militarized police, no-knock raids, and dangerous shock and awe tactics have always been the American experience. At least Stone didn’t have a pet shot or have a flash bomb thrown at a small child in his family.

A lot of people outside Stone’s demographic/tax bracket haven’t been that lucky.