Coddling Criminals Is a New Front in the War on the Middle Class

The middle class is the traditional bedrock of American society. They are the rule followers, the volunteers, the middle managers, and small business owners. Being rule-oriented, they support the police and stability, as they have a stake in maintaining the status quo. Their values are defined by their economic and social position: self-sufficient, conscientious, and, lately, anxious.

The middle class is under pressure from numerous directions. Wages have been flat for 50 years, while prices have gone up, particularly for the traditional perquisites of middle-class existence: homes, healthcare, and education. Globalization and mass immigration increase the labor pool against which Americans must compete. Inflation and debt eat away at the ability of families to accrue wealth. And diversity and crime have made it so many families need to spend a small fortune (and a lot of time commuting) to recreate the lifestyle they enjoyed growing up.

Lately, riots and racial tension create additional anxieties for the middle class. The nihilism of these displays is alien to the middle class’s quest for security.   

The Media Machine Foments Racial Tension

Last summer’s riots did not happen in a vacuum.  While a few years ago media infrastructure was geared around salacious “true crime” stories like the JonBenét Ramsey and Casey Anthony episodes, today there is a whole media apparatus deployed to amplify every negative police interaction involving white cops and black people.

These stories supposedly show the racist underbelly of America. As I have written before, the Left’s entire worldview is built upon a narrative of the illegitimacy of American society, because of its supposed corruption by systemic racism. Since this jaundiced view of American life is false, the demand for such stories exceeds the supply. Thus, a seemingly no-brainer incident like a gun-toting 13-year-old gang member being shot while resisting arrest becomes a maudlin story of a promising young man gunned down in cold blood. Similarly, last week, a police officer using deadly force to stop a young lady trying to stab another teen to death has become a cause célèbre.

Who would side with gang members and homicidal maniacs? The answer is the mainstream voices of the Democratic Party.  

Former President Obama’s top advisor, Valerie Jarrett, had this to say about the Columbus, Ohio shooting: 

A black teenage girl named Ma’Khia Bryant was killed because a police officer immediately decided to shoot her multiple times in order to break up a knife fight. Demand accountability. Fight for justice. #BlackLivesMatter

Activist Bree Newsome downplayed the seriousness of the knife attack: “Teenagers have been having fights including fights involving knives for eons. We do not need police to address these situations by showing up to the scene & using a weapon against one of the teenagers. Y’all need help. I mean that sincerely.”  

Knives, of course, are extremely deadly, and about four times as many people die in knife attacks than from rifles of all kinds, including AR-15s, every year.

If the Trayvon Martin and George Floyd stories plausibly supported a narrative of excessive violence, it’s now clear that even the most self-evidently legal use of force by citizens or the police involving minorities will reap the same whirlwind.

The willful distortion of these incidents serves an extremist agenda.  

Service to the High-Low Coalition

The most obvious part of the agenda is to placate the demands for less exacting law enforcement among segments of the lower classes. While there is likely some debate within these communities about policing, their community leaders are fighting for less law and order. This is the foundation of recent anti-bail reform and related decriminalization efforts. Not only marijuana, but theft, trespassing, and prostitution are all now being decriminalized.  

Permitting higher crime through lower levels of policing lets the urban poor avoid the laws and expectations of the middle class, whose restrictions and enforcers they perceive as oppressive. It’s just a knife fight, after all!

Recognizing that the worst atrocities are inflicted intramurally within poor black communities is now treated as bad manners. For the race-obsessed Left, what matters is “who” is doing something, not “what” is being done. That’s why a minor shove against a black man who allegedly sexually assaulted teens in a South Carolina subdivision is national news, while the black-on-black murders of children are not.  

The proponents of this belief system don’t believe Black Lives Matter, strictly speaking; they simply don’t accept that white cops or white people have any moral authority to control what happens within urban black communities. This is why BLM, Antifa, and now the mainstream Democratic Party have made a huge show of white-on-black incidents, only a tiny number of which should raise an eyebrow.  

Who are the accelerationists, exactly?

The key to understanding is to recognize the recent realignment of political parties. The Democrats, for all their sentimental talk about standing up for the little guy, are really a “high-low” coalition—an alliance of the rich and the poor. And both the top and the bottom of that coalition want less policing, more chaos, and more uncertainty for the middle class.

While high crime would seem to hurt the rich and middle class alike, the wealthy can use their resources to protect themselves without relying on off-the-rack government solutions. Just as they avoid the problems of public schools, the rich can afford gated communities, doormen, and bodyguards. For the wealthy and powerful, cultivating public obsessions with race serves as a useful distraction from increasing inequality and reduced upward mobility.  

The middle class is an obstacle to the Left’s revolutionary agenda. Middle-class people like law and order, but they also believe in liberty, self-government, fair play, self-sufficiency, property rights, and maintaining these achievements for future generations. This is the old American way. Creating a no-win situation, where even the most unambiguously justified use of force will lead to pariah status and draconian punishment, undermines the dignity and self-confidence of the middle class. 

If gambling is addictive because of the mental impact of intermittent rewards, the alternative—intermittent punishment—creates the opposite feeling: despair and learned helplessness. What the criminals and their families seek as a type of liberation, the middle class will experience as disorienting . . . as terror.   

The random visitations of violence upon the middle class by the criminal class coupled with official indifference will not necessarily lead to a huge backlash. This is the deus ex machina pendulum-about-to-swing-our-way cope of Conservatism Inc.. Rather, this violence and the official tolerance for it will just as likely lead to moral, political, and organizational paralysis among the middle class.    

The Fruits of a Poisonous System

Consider recent events. Kate Steinle’s killer walked, while Derek Chauvin was found guilty, not just of manslaughter, but of murder. American-owned businesses were shut down under mask mandates, but meanwhile, scores of refugees are being let into the country without being tested for COVID-19. These disparities make it clear: the system does not work for you if you are middle class or white or otherwise lumped in a disfavored group. Every source of power and influence—media, universities, corporations, and the government—is becoming explicitly hostile to heritage America.  

This is reality. Absorbing this fact is a painful, but necessary, lesson. But there are some obvious practical implications. It means that the old hope in fixing things with the next election or some reform to the law will not succeed as either a matter of politics or policy.  

It also means that we no longer need to be loyal to or serve this system. We should declare our practical and moral independence from it. We should feel free to undermine it at every opportunity when it advances our collective interests. Be creative (but don’t be stupid). 

While the middle class naturally prefers law and order, it is now time to reject the system and its rules. Because the more this system’s law and this system’s order is achieved, the worse things are for our people. Such a system deserves no loyalty and no support. 

About Christopher Roach

Christopher Roach is an attorney in private practice based in Florida. He is a double graduate of the University of Chicago and has previously been published by The Federalist, Takimag, The Journal of Property Rights in Transition, the Washington Legal Foundation, the Marine Corps Gazette, and the Orlando Sentinel. The views presented are solely his own.

Photo: Stephen Zenner/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

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