Every day, New York city police commit 1,800 stop-and-frisk searches. Substantially less than one percent turn up guns—the supposed justification for the searches, and the carrying of which is protected by the Bill of Rights. In my piece for the Huffington Post, I noted the racial disparities and threats to civil liberties posed. New audio documentation indicates what many have described. In this perhaps all-too-typical encounter, the police speak abusively, using racially charged and violent language, and threaten injury against a private citizen who only seems to want to know why he’s being harassed repeatedly in the land of the free.
In most areas in American life, racism of the old-school sort has thankfully subsided significantly. Yet it remains in government, particularly in the criminal justice and law-enforcement arenas. Victomologists on the left wrongly assume the entire society conspires against minorities, and that law enforcement is par for the course. Conservatives sometimes wrongly assume that because society at large has seen progress, accusations of institutional racism in law enforcement must be completely overblown. But the truth is the problem persists and most of all in the public sector. As with everything else in social relations, the state lags far behind the progress seen in the civilized avenues of society.
The race-baiters on the left who see in the state the hope for a colorblind future are totally off the mark. In liberal New York, the police engage in a systematically racist and oppressive search policy on a staggeringly wide scale. If anything this horrendous happened in any other sector of society, particularly in business, we’d never see the end of the lawsuits and media muckraking.
For the definitive collection of writings outlining why freedom and the market, rather than collectivism and the state, point the way to racial tolerance, see the Independent Institute’s book Race and Liberty, edited by Jonathan Bean.