You know respect for authority is too high when people start complaining that no one respects authority anymore. Obviously, this rule doesn’t apply to authority figures themselves. From principals to police chiefs, professional authorities spend their lives astonished by the rate of public disobedience. But ordinary Americans shouldn’t think that way. Once Curt Schilling can get a job at Breitbart or Donald Trump can win in Arizona by saying people don’t appreciate cops, you know things have gotten out of hand. Sure enough, Gallup has released a new poll in which the portion of Americans who express “a great deal of respect for the police” has reached 76%, up 12 points from last year. I think we can agree that’s way too high.
Donald Trump had a big weekend. On Saturday, he told a rally of his supporters in Birmingham, Alabama that “we have to surveil the mosques.” After a half-dozen white attendees at that rally knocked a Black Lives Matter protestor to the ground and kicked him for a while, Trump went on This Week and told George Stephanopoulos that “maybe he should have been roughed up.” In the same appearance, he called for the return of waterboarding and said he would “not at all” rule out a database of Muslims living in the United States. Sunday afternoon, he tweeted “statistics” claiming that 81% of white murder victims are killed by blacks. According to the FBI as reported by the Daily News, it’s actually about 15%.
On Saturday, protestors aligned with the Black Lives Matter movement shut down a Bernie Sanders rally in Seattle. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I think police violence against black people is a huge problem that the United States is, for the most part, still ignoring. I think activism—particularly activism by protest—is by definition disruptive and unpopular. You know what reduced institutional racism in Ferguson? Rioting in the streets. So you cannot criticize an act of protest for being inappropriate, because that’s the point. You can, however, criticize a protest for being ineffective, and I question whether Marissa Johnson and Mara Willaford achieved what they wanted on Saturday.