In October, Attorney General Bill Barr delivered radical remarks at Notre Dame in which the nation’s chief law-enforcement official condemned societal ills on conspiring American secularists, whom he accused of launching “an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values.”
A month later, Barr delivered equally unsettling remarks defending a dramatic vision of expansive presidential power and accusing “the left” of engaging in “the systematic shredding of norms and the undermining of the rule of law.” It prompted even some conservative-leaning lawyers to rebuke the attorney general’s radicalism.
And yesterday, Barr took new steps to appear even more extreme. The HuffPost reported:
U.S. Attorney General William Barr said Tuesday that if some communities don’t begin showing more respect to law enforcement, then they could potentially not be protected by police officers.
The country’s top cop made the questionable remarks while giving a speech at the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in Policing.
“But I think today, American people have to focus on something else, which is the sacrifice and the service that is given by our law enforcement officers,” Barr said. “And they have to start showing, more than they do, the respect and support that law enforcement deserves – and if communities don’t give that support and respect, they might find themselves without the police protection they need.”
Not to put too fine a point on this, but perhaps Bill Barr has forgotten the role of dissent in American society. In the United States, unsatisfied citizens are free to criticize and condemn those in positions of authority – without fear of official reprisals.
If, for example, minority communities speak out in protest against alleged law-enforcement abuses, the proper response is to listen to their pleas, evaluate the claims on the merits, and take steps to address their concerns.
The improper response is to suggest those communities will no longer receive police protection.
As The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer put it, the attorney general seemed to argue yesterday that the police “are not sworn officers of the law, civil servants bound by an oath, but a gang running a protection racket.”
It’s not too late for Barr to take a remedial course on the foundations and principles of modern law enforcement in a free society.