I know there are other cop related threads up but this one has a more targeted question. Why are American cops among the most brutal? Every day you see a new video of them pile driving an elderly woman into the ground or unloading clips into a black man or snapping a mentally disabled person’s arm. In almost no other part of the world, and certainly not in rich countries, are the police this violent or imperious.
I’m American and nearly everyone I know has been harassed or hounded by the police at one point or another. They typically do not view citizens as a group to protect but as an alien, otherized population to be monitored and intimidated. Even myself, a white male who is mild-mannered and rarely a troublemaker, have faced such treatment by police.
Now I will attempt to answer my own question.
My personal pet theory is that it is no coincidence that America is the epicenter of both world capitalism and police brutality. As Adam Smith of all people pointed out police exist to defend property, particularly private property, and the propertied class. There is a lot of that to protect and serve in America, and America has a large, mostly black and brown though not exclusively, marginalized and disenfranchised underclass that must be disciplined and regulated. America's large and unpropertied underclass must be kept off the lawn of capital.
Racism in one form of another is a contributing factor, and the idea that police function in part to enforce “internal colonies” of black and brown “reserved unemployed” who shut off from participating in the larger society is an appealing theory. But this cannot be the whole explanation because the brutality extends all but the wealthy.
America also uses its prison system as a form of modern slavery, extracting dirt cheap labor from inmates or legalizing for profit prisons that by their very design must seek to keep growing the prisoner population.
Another possibility is that American cops must deal with a distinctly difficult citizenry, because something in the American mental constitution is adamantly resistant to authority. Yet in a manner of speaking this is just a way to blame the victim.
Those who are attracted to unjustified power and authority tend to have sociopathic tendencies, but this should apply to all cops across the world. Only in America is regular brutalization acceptable and thus it attracts the type of psycho who enjoys that line of wPost too long. Click here to view the full text.