(May 11) It’s not just the racism, but the vigilantism too.

In the now-infamous killing of black Georgian jogger Ahmaud Arbery, there is much to be said, much of it obvious, against racism in the shooting itself and in some fetid corners of the Twitterverse that defend the shooting. You don’t live in the real world if you think Gregory and Travis McMichael would have shot Arbery if he were white instead of black. That a Fox News host such as Tomi Lahren would (in essence) jump on board the blame-the-victim train, without apparent pushback from her employer, shows how morally blind the white grievance industry has become.

This incident has racial hatred written all over it (although I do not subscribe to the “hate crimes” enforcement regime) when even the lesser offense of racial stereotyping is deservedly considered a civic sin.

But it is both easy and expected for any reasonable observer to denounce the evident racism involved. The more controversial subject is vigilantism. Solid polling on the subject is hard to come by, but it is almost undeniable to say that at least a large minority of Americans, raised on vigilante-heroizing movie franchises such as Dirty Harry and Death Wish, generally support the concept of vigilante action.

This is a problem. We in the United States do not live in a lawless society, and we do not live under repressive authoritarianism. Our crime rates are so far below where they were 30 years ago as to be nearly miraculously low. We have recourse to numerous legal options to maintain both our safety and our liberty under systems created by our own, duly elected representatives. Vigilantism, by taking the law into our own hands rather than relying on those legitimate systems, is usually no more than criminality wearing a red, white, and blue disguise….

[The full column is here.]


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