When politicians promise more “law and order,” the order part tends to take precedent over upholding the law.
Donald Trump’s recent Tweet about wanting to throw flag burners in jail or strip them of their citizenship is a good example. The “order” Trump seeks—prohibiting free speech he disagrees with—obviously means more to him than the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
You know, the law of the land.
“Law and order” was a primary theme of Trump’s campaign—and perhaps no one hammered it home at the Republican convention more than Sheriff David Clarke. Clarke is the sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, a Fox News contributor, and perhaps most importantly, a staunch Trump supporter.
And of course, true to form, this law-and-order enforcement officer has little respect for the Constitution when it comes to protecting and serving.
Mother Jones reported Monday, “Donald Trump was scheduled to meet Monday with Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr., a Trump supporter and surrogate during the campaign who is now reportedly being considered to head the Department of Homeland Security.”
Among some of his controversial positions, Clarke believes there is no such thing as police brutality. “First off, there is no police brutality in America. We ended that back in the ’60s,” Clarke said in 2015.
Clarke has also given his thoughts on black crime, “Let me tell you why blacks sell drugs and involve themselves in criminal behavior instead of a more socially acceptable lifestyle — because they’re uneducated, they’re lazy, and they’re morally bankrupt.” “That’s why,” Clarke said.
There have been a number of questionable deaths under his watch as well, including “Terrill Thomas, a 38-year-old inmate who died of profound dehydration, and a baby who died after an inmate gave birth unnoticed in her cell,” according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
Yet, it still gets worse. Mother Jones noted, “One of his most out-there positions: suspend the constitutional rights of up to a million people, and hold them indefinitely at the US prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.”
Clarke’s extremist approach to homeland security is no secret. In his upcoming memoir, Cop Under Fire: Moving Beyond Hashtags of Race, Crime and Politics for a Better America, he advocates treating American citizens suspected of terrorism as “enemy combatants,” questioning them without an attorney, and holding them indefinitely, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Their cases would be handled by a military tribunal rather than a traditional court.
But a year ago, Clarke went further and called for rounding up Americans who sympathize with terrorists and shipping them to an offshore prison. During a December 2015 segment of his show, The People’s Sheriff, on Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze radio network, Clarke suggested that any person who posts pro-terrorist sentiments on social media be arrested, deprived of the constitutional protection against unlawful imprisonment (known as habeas corpus), and sent to Guantanamo Bay indefinitely.
Clarke, “estimated the number of people who could be imprisoned under his proposal could reach 1 million. Presumably, this would include American citizens.”
Clarke said on The Glenn Beck show in 2015, “I suggest that our commander in chief ought to utilize Article I, Section 9 and take all of these individuals that are suspected, these ones on the internet spewing jihadi rhetoric…to scoop them up, charge them with treason and, under habeas corpus, detain them indefinitely at Gitmo.”
So anyone who is deemed to be using terrorist-sounding rhetoric Clarke wants to simply round up and imprison with no due process. As decided by who? Presumably the Trump administration. Perhaps even Clarke.
“We are at war. Homegrown radicalization has the enemy inside our borders,” Clarke writes in his upcoming book Cop Under Fire: Moving Beyond Hashtags of Race, Crime and Politics for a Better America. “Islamist radicalized Americans are not criminals; they are enemy combatants,” Clarke says.
Clarke is right that we must take steps to combat ISIS and other extremists, at home or abroad. We also cannot let political correctness blind us to genuine threats.
But we also can’t let fear force us to reject fundamental American principles and common sense.
We have a Constitution that protects the basic civil rights of citizens precisely because in times of fear, demagogues will always make excuses for why those legal protections should be suspended or discarded.
That’s exactly the argument Clarke makes.
Few public figures show such an eagerness to flex unlimited executive power, the law be damned, as Clarke. He would trade security for liberty in a heartbeat and we would most assuredly get neither.
Donald Trump has already nominated for Attorney General Senator Jeff Sessions, an unrepentant drug warrior who thinks the Constitution must take a backseat to national security. What this will mean for liberty in the future is scary enough.
Now the President-elect is reportedly considering for the head of Homeland Security a man who would shred the Bill of Rights in an instant if it made him look like a tough guy on Fox News. If he ever had his way, had his extreme ideas executed from a position of power, history tells us that many innocent people could get hurt.
Leaders who don’t at least try to balance security with liberty aren’t fit for office. Clarke seems to think any authority with a badge is always right and without exception.
That kind of blind trust in government combined with a well-documented authoritarian-bent is a recipe for disaster. It’s why nominating Sheriff David Clarke to head the Department of Homeland Security would be one of the most irresponsible choices our next president could possibly make.