On a recent radio talk show, a retired high-ranking general, who had traveled extensively to numerous countries around the world, was asked what in his opinion set the United States apart from other countries. His answer: “rule of law.”

Rule of law protects a society from mob rule, corruption and anarchy. It forces countries, states and cities to conduct their affairs in an honest and legal manner. It promotes commerce by allowing businesses and other lawful entities to safely conduct their affairs and enter into legal contracts. It allows society to function normally as people live their everyday lives without fear of crime and violence.

The recent brutal riots following the death of George Floyd have seriously damaged our country and our obedience to the rule of law. Criminals and radical fringe political groups have hijacked the Black Lives Matter movement and are using it to promote their own agenda through anarchy.

When the violence started, liberal politicians in many of our cities told their law enforcement to stand down and literally gave rioters a free reign, allowing them to loot and destroy at will. The rioters have done hundreds of millions of dollars of damage to private and public entities. Minneapolis alone had more than 1,000 buildings damaged in the riots. Hundreds of individuals and law enforcement have been seriously hurt or killed with little or no consequences.

The failure of these political leaders to immediately stop the crime and violence has been like pouring gasoline on a fire. Because there were no repercussions to what they had done, the demands and actions of the rioters have become more bizarre and imposing. One person who called himself a Black Lives Matter leader stated that they will burn down the system if they don’t get what they want, and that violence is necessary to achieve their goals. The rioters started demanding that we defund and disband our law enforcement agencies, obviously so they can achieve their own goals without interference.

Now these same groups are tearing down statues across our country in the name of racial justice. Their actions have been random and chaotic. A statue of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, the man who led the Union forces to victory over the Confederate states and freed the slaves, was torn down. The Emancipation Proclamation Statue depicting President Abraham Lincoln freeing the slaves and paid for by freed slaves was attacked. An American flag was wrapped around a statue of our founding father George Washington and burned. Without Washington, we would have no free country. A statue of Frederick Douglass was torn down in Rochester, N.Y. Douglass was an outspoken abolitionist and assisted with the underground railroad that helped shuttle slaves to freedom.

This all makes no sense.

These same people are calling the Fourth of July a racist holiday and asking for the destruction of Mount Rushmore. What’s next? The Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial? These historical statues are not theirs to destroy; they belong to the citizens of our country. There is a legal process for removing these statues, and it does not include mob rule.

President Donald Trump was right to have the National Guard protect our monuments and to call for a minimum 10-year sentence for anyone who destroys one of them.

We are witnessing firsthand the results of losing the rule of law. Crime has skyrocketed in cities across our country. Shootings and killings have increased by double- and triple-digits in some areas. Over our recent Fourth of July weekend, Chicago had 70 shootings with 17 deaths. In many areas, police protection is nonexistent. The murder rate in some of these cities is worse than war zones in many Third World countries.

Black on Black crime is a scandal that no one wants to talk about. Thousands of Blacks kill other Blacks each year mostly in gang violence. Recently there has been a rash of small Black children who have been killed in the crossfire, but the only incidents that the media cover are police-related killings and they end in riots.

The political left told us that we shouldn’t blame all Muslims for the actions of a few terrorists. But now they tell us that all law enforcement should be blamed for the actions of a few officers. Granted, there are problems with police brutality that need to be fixed. But we need to reform our police, not defund them. We need to standardize training and emphasize de-escalation of conflict. There needs to be more oversight to ensure that rogue police officers are held accountable for their actions and that any records of their wrongdoing will follow them wherever they go.

When we lose the rule of law, we lose our freedom and our country. We must stop demonizing all law enforcement officers; they are the ones who implement the rule of law. You cannot attract quality people to a low-paying profession when everybody hates you and you have a target on your back.

After winning the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stated in a speech: “Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problems; it merely creates new and more complicated ones. Violence is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than convert. It is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends up defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.”

Why aren’t we listening?

Dugger retired as a journeyman carpenter from Clearwater Paper. He lives in Lewiston.

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