by Victor Davis Hanson
NRO’s The Corner
It is hard to remember worse coverage of a catastrophe than what we are given about the ex-cop Christopher Dorner’s murdering rampage. Some reprehensible pundits, ever so easily, fall into blaming LAPD and its “history of racism,” in a sorta, kinda contextualizing of Dorner’s brutal killing of innocents by the specter of Rodney King. But even a cursory reading of Dorner’s Unabomber-like manifesto reveals, aside from jibberish, incoherence, and narcissism, racial stereotyping and anger directed against Latinos and Asians — cf. his first victims — as much as, or more than, against whites, and even a dose of anger about lesbian officers. Further disinterested reading would not lead to any suggestion that Dorner might have had legitimate grievances, but rather raises the question of how someone so unhinged was hired as a policeman in the first place.
As far as law enforcement in Southern California goes, it has so far not fared well. There have been both shoot-from-the-hip, trigger-happy violent encounters with innocents who hardly fit Dorner’s description, and the inexplicable and loud decision by LAPD chief Charles Beck to reopen Dorner’s file, de facto legitimizing a murderer’s horrific means to his selfish end. Posting a $1-million reward is understandable, but its vague conditions may have unforeseen Wild West consequences and bring a lot of freelancing bounty hunters out of the woodwork. This entire episode is proving to be not just about horrific violence and the tragic loss of innocent lives, but about some equally horrific strains within contemporary society in general and Southern California in particular.
A Blown-up Terrorist Is Not a Dead American Nazi in Uniform
I don’t think the example of Americans killed while fighting for Japan or Germany in World War II is an apt one in the discussions of whether we should worry about targeted drone attacks against American citizens, approved by unnamed administration officials. I think such a system is a bad idea for any administration.
The former cases were in declared wars against uniformed and almost always anonymous combatants, whose identities, not that it would have mattered much, as American citizens were usually known only later when they were killed or captured.
In contrast, we are talking about foreknowledge of killing known individual citizens, and not necessarily on a battlefield however loosely described. The better comparison would be Cold War–era assassinations against believed individual traitors or suspected rogue American operators in service to the Soviet Union or its Communist allies — who were gunned down in solitary fashion with precise knowledge of who they were. I am sure we did such things even if on rare occasions, and if we want to repeat that modus operandi, we should at least be honest enough to cite those examples as successful and necessary case histories that can now guide us in the present.
©2013 Victor Davis Hanson