Recall that image of National Guard troops sleeping in an unheated garage after the inaugural ceremonies in Washington? It’s one that I hope will dwell in the memory.
It’s an image of incompetence, and that’s important.
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In discussions about policing, the criminal justice system and the surveillance state, critics across the spectrum are quick to attribute ideological motives. On the left, racism is the explanation most employed, and on the right, a suspicion of the totalitarian tendencies of the bureaucratic state.
It’s an image of incompetence
Those explanations are oft employed because they contain a good deal of truth. But they do not explain everything. Sometimes it is just plain incompetence. When government employees wear uniforms and carry guns it does not make them immune from the incompetence that is sometimes found in other government work, whether it be road construction or sanitation.
The massive failure of the Capitol Police during the mob invasion of the building was quickly attributed to ideological causes. Were the police in cahoots with the mob? Was the underwhelming response racially motivated? No less than President Joe Biden said that there would have been a different response if the mob had been largely black. The option that the police could simply be incompetent, with spectacularly bad consequences, was not entertained as it should have been.