Yesterday, I was looking through coverage of the Congressional Hearing where Mr. Strzok of the FBI was being interviewed by Congress. For a policy/politics aficionado, like myself, this sort of thing is better than the Super Bowl or World Cup.
Lots of Kabuki. Republicans attempting to get Strzok to admit bias as he attempted to parse every word of his emails and texts, Democrats using Congressional rules of order to obstruct almost every question. For us wonks, it was great theater with only the popcorn missing.
But then something rather odd happened. Mr. Strzok finally admitted he had a pro-Hillary, anti-Trump PERSONAL bias. However, he clearly stated that BIAS didn’t bleed over into his PROFESSIONAL conduct or judgment.
The odd part was that one on the committee thought to at least gasp or say anything like, “EXCUSE ME?!”
For at least fifty years that I know of, law enforcement bias has been an issue and at the core of many police department reforms. In every University study, I’m aware of, even UNCONCIOUS BIAS has resulted in an increased tendency to prosecute and to overcharge victims of prosecution. Law enforcement and educator bias have been a center point of Progressive discussions of race for decades. It is a pretty well-established notion even among CONSERVATIVES that BIAS can lead to unconstitutional law enforcement and that people who are aware of their bias have a constitutional obligation to recuse.
But suddenly because some people don’t want Donald Trump to be President, both the left and right are accepting the notion, seemingly without question or objection, that people with outright expressed hostility to a person, and by extension, a group can claim they are “professionals” and assert the laughable notion that their bias did not inform any acts they took as law enforcement officers…. Do we REALLY want to accept this point of view given its consequences?
When that LA County Sheriff with the white supremacist organization tattoo covering his entire right shoulder says “Well yeah, I belong to “Spookhunters”, and yeah its a kinda anti-Black social club, but that didn’t affect or inform me shooting Shaniqua eight times, I’m unbiased in my professional life.” Are we going to accept that?
Have we defined a new acceptable standard on the issue of bias? if we say we believe it in the case of Strzok, don’t we then accept or make more believable, this tall tail from all law enforcement?
Is getting rid of Donald Trump really worth flushing fifty years of work on the understanding that bias leads to unjust law enforcement? Are we now willing to accept the trope of every racist cop that his personal beliefs don’t bleed over into unjust unconstitutional law enforcement against specific groups? That’s what we are doing when we accept Strzok’s assertions about his behavior.