No matter how many cops that Micah Johnson shot and killed, the Dallas Police Department had no legitimate authority to murder him. And that is precisely what they did — they murdered the man, no doubt motivated by anger and rage over Johnson’s having killed five cops and wounded seven others.
That’s not the way things are supposed to work here in America. Ever since the founding of the United States, the principles of American criminal justice have entailed such legal concepts as presumption of innocence, due process of law, and trial by jury. The cops are not supposed to kill suspects. They’re supposed to bring them in for trial.
Not so in the case of Micah Johnson. The Dallas Police Department decided to take out Johnson with a robot bomb. No stinking trial for that man.
It’s one thing when a cop kills a man in self-defense. That is, if Johnson had been coming toward some police officers with guns blaring, it would have been entirely legitimate to shoot back at him in self-defense. That wasn’t the case here. Johnson was trapped and surrounded in a car garage. He wasn’t going anywhere. The cops could have (and no doubt did) cordon off the entire area so that innocent people couldn’t possibly be threatened. They could have waited him out. At some point, he would have needed food and water. They had already initiated negotiations with him. They could have talked him into surrendering. They could have permitted to let him stand trial.
Instead, they decided to murder him. Ironically, in doing so they confirmed what the Black Lives Matter movement is alleging — that black lives do not matter to cops.
Imagine if the cop killer had been the son of a white Dallas city councilman and a veteran of the U.S. national-security state’s never-ending wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan. Suppose he, like so many other veterans of those wars, had returned with severe emotional, psychological, and mental problems. Would the cops have summarily assassinated the white son of a Dallas city councilman? Maybe, but I doubt it. I think there is a good possibility that they would have done whatever they could to do what they’re supposed to do — bring the man to justice, not assassinate him.
Let’s address the great big elephant in the room, the one that nobody wants to address: the U.S. national-security state, the totalitarian structure that was grafted onto the federal government to wage the Cold War against America’s World War II partner and ally, the Soviet Union, along with the massive death and destruction that it has wreaked on an ongoing basis for the past 25 years in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
The idea was that as long as the evidence of all that death and destruction was kept apart from the American people, everything would be hunky dory here in the United States. It was as if there were two separate and distinct worlds — one in which the national-security state was authorized to do anything it wanted over there, while the American people could go innocently about their lives over here. The mainstream media, of course, did its part by never showing the American people the body parts of the thousands of people who were getting blown up over there.
But as I have long argued, that was a pipedream. Ultimately, all that militarization, death, and destruction would seep into the sub-consciousness of the American people. Ultimately, it would result in a dysfunctional society, one in which bizarre acts of violence would take place.
But no one talks about this as the major root cause of America’s dysfunctional woes because of the sacrosanct position that the national-security establishment has come to have in America’s federal governmental system. The national-security state is always the given. No one questions its existence (well, except for libertarians). It is everything to people. It is their idol, their god. People will do anything to avoid thinking about what this totalitarian Cold War structure has done to American society. Instead, people continue to try to jerry rig what is happening with reforms that inevitably entail more oppression, such as gun control.
Consider the massive militarization of American society. I periodically attend baseball games at Washington Nationals Park. Every game, the fans are exhorted to stand up and wave their caps in appreciation for the troops. And every game, most everyone stands up and practically breaks down in tears in gratitude, never thinking twice about the troops are doing, why they are doing it, and the consequences to America of what they are doing. (I never stand up at those games because I realize that what the troops are doing over there is taking our country down, not only with out-of-control federal spending but also with the terrorist blowback their actions are producing, followed by the destruction of my liberty and privacy at the hands of the U.S. government, which destroys our liberty in the name of keeping us safe from the enemies it is producing. For me, the destruction of my liberty, prosperity, and harmony with the world is nothing to be thankful for.)
Why should a sporting event like baseball be a place for the glorification of the military establishment? It’s all part of what America has become — a militarized society, one in which the military mindset has taken hold of people’s minds.
Consider Micah Johnson, the Dallas shooter. By now, everyone knows where he received his training in ambush and shooting. Yes, he was trained to kill by the U.S. national-security state, which trained him to kill people in Afghanistan and the Middle East, most of whom never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so. How’s that for perverse irony?
And look at how the cops responded to Johnson — not as cops but as soldiers. That’s because of the military mindset that has infected police departments all across the land. In war, if an enemy soldier is holed up in a building in which innocent people are located, the U.S. military will call in an airstrike to blow up the guy. But criminal justice is supposed to be different. With criminal justice, all life is sacred, including the life of the person who is alleged to have committed a crime. We don’t want the cops to be like President Obama and his army, who fire drone missiles at whoever they believe is a terrorist. We want the police to bring people to justice, not serve as judge, jury, and executioner.
In blowing up Micah Johnson, the Dallas cops did serve as judge, jury, and executioner, knowing full well that no one (except libertarians) would dare question their deliberate, pre-meditated murder of a black cop killer. The militarization of America’s criminal justice system is just one more dark manifestation of what the old Cold War-era national-security establishment has done to America.
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
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