Martin: [To Kaine] You risk your skin catching killers and the juries turn them loose so they can come back and shoot at you again. If you’re honest you’re poor your whole life and in the end you wind up dying all alone on some dirty street. For what? For nothing. For a tin star.
Helen: Kane will be a dead man in half an hour and nobody’s gonna do anything about it. And when he dies, this town dies too. I can feel it. I am all alone in the world. I have to make a living. So I’m going someplace else. That’s all.
Kibbee: This thing has been handled wrong. Those three killers walking the streets bold as brass…Why didn’t you put them in jail where they ought to be? Then we’d only have Miller to worry about.
Marshall Kaine: I haven’t anything to arrest them for. They haven’t done anything. There’s no law against them sitting on a bench at the depot.
High Noon 1952
One of the great westerns in fact one of the great movies is High Noon staring Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly. The basic plot is about a Marshall Will Kaine (Cooper) who has just gotten married and is leaving his position, the new marshall is due in a couple of days as the town but it turns out the old gang of a killer who the Marshall sent away turns up at the train station waiting for the leader who has been pardoned by the governor and vowed revenge on him.
After initially choosing to flee he returns to the town to get a posse up to confront this problem but discovers that the town that was so happy to have his protection an his friends who were so delighted to attend his wedding are unwilling to stand behind him.
A lot has been written about that aspect of the movie but there is one other aspect, an aspect that really applies to the situation in Dallas and elsewhere that’s worth reminding people of.
The new wife of the marshal (Grace Kelly) is a quaker, a pacifist, who gives him an ultimatum, either leave this town or she will leave him. When he refuses she waits at a local hotel to leave on the noon train, the same train the killer (Frank Miller) is coming on. While there she has this exchange with the a hotel clerk.
Amy Kaine: You don’t Like my husband, do you?
Amy Kaine: Why?
Clerk: Lots of reasons. This place was always busy when Frank Miller was around. I’m not the only one. A plenty of people think he’s got a comeuppance coming. You asked me, ma’am, so I’m telling you.
He is not alone, when Miller’s brother (Sheb Wooley) leaves the train station to get a bottle of Whisky at a local bar he is warmly greeted:
Bartender: Hey, Ben! How are you? Hey, look who’s here! How are you, Ben?
Ben Miller: Give me a bottle.
Bartender: It’s been a long time, Ben.
Ben Miller: Yeah.
Bartender: Yes, sir. How’s Frank?
Ben Miller: He’s not complaining.
Bartender: It’ll be a hot time in the old town tonight, eh?
Ben Miller: I wouldn’t be surprised.
In both cases the people delighted at the prospect of the return of the Miller gang know who and what they are, they know what will happen if they reestablish themselves in the town as evidenced both by the “hot time” line and by Kaine words to them when he comes in looking for deputies
All right We all know what Miller’s like. That’s why I’m here. How about it?
but nobody moves, some because they are afraid of what ill happen if they confront mill but others like the Bartender for a different reason.
He and the clerk before him both understand that while the town in general may suffer, while innocent people might get shot, shop owners might be robbed or intimidated and women assaulted or raped, they, the bartender and the clerk, know their personal business and their personal profit will benefit, and besides they didn’t much care for those folks that Miller will terrorize anyways
And that dear friends are were we are right now in America.
Regardless of now suddenly somber and respectful words of our friends on the left have suddenly adopted they understand that their electoral base and the subsequent power they bring is dependent on people who at best don’t like or trust the police or at worst are in favor of or indifferent to their murder. They also understand that any suggestion that the lives of police are just as valuable as those who may be killed in the line of duty is a recipe an electoral or financial disaster.
I think that we’ve reached a breaking point, I think that police are rapidly realizing that at least one major American party doesn’t want to choose between backing rule of law and respect for those who enforce it and risking the wrath of a voting niche that they depend on for power or not.
But that’s the choice that has to be made. Police particularly in those large cities, that coincidentally are overwhelmingly controlled by the party that has encouraged and enabled those who look at police and cry “murders”. and the media that backs them MUST be made to make this choice, to make it clearly and in public. To answer the contradiction that Glenn Reynolds notes:
Well, it’s the only way Dem politicans can avoid the contradiction of being anti-police but wanting urban centers to prosper. But as Richard Fernandez notes, the contradictions are coming home to roost.
Police actually already understand this and have to some degree, taken steps to protect themselves post Ferguson:
As Jack Dunphy has written, “Murder rates are soaring in Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Baltimore and elsewhere as the police in those cities, acutely aware of the politics of the moment, attune their behavior so as to minimize risk – not the risk to life and limb, which they accept and prepare for as part of the job, but the risk to their livelihood that arises when the tactical decisions they make in the blink of an eye are viewed through a political prism for months or even years. There is no amount of training that can prepare a cop for that risk; there is only the choice to avoid it… Crime is up and will go higher. Don’t expect this to change any time soon.”
While this makes sense since the primary duty of a police officer is to get home alive, I submit and suggest that this is not effective because that increased risk is not shared by the pols and the agitators who have enabled this situation.
I don’t know about anyone else, but if I was the police chief of such as city, and the political left that controls my city is not willing to stand with the men and women who protect them I’d pull them off the streets rather than have them risk their necks for people who don’t care if they live or die.
That way not only will the criminal element have the joy of discovering the reality that it is only the police that protect them from the wrath of those they prey on, but the elites can discover the joy of being free from those vile men and women in blue guarding their offices, their business and their home and the freedom of self reliance.
I think it would be a fascinating experiment in cause and effect, but one that we are unlikely to see, because I suspect those men and women in blue that our friends on the left so love to critique, like Marshal Will Kaine, just can’t bring themselves to leave their towns undefended, even at the cost of their lives.
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