Last night New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg made an extraordinarily dangerous and radical pronouncement. He was appearing on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight” when the host asked him: “Why do so many Americans not feel angry enough to demand further gun control?” Here’s his answer:
“Well, I would take it one step further. I don’t understand why the police officers across this country don’t stand up collectively and say, we’re going to go on strike. We’re not going to protect you. Unless you, the public, through your legislature, do what’s required to keep us safe.
“After all, police officers want to go home to their families. And we’re doing everything we can to make their job more difficult but, more importantly, more dangerous, by leaving guns in the hands of people who shouldn’t have them, and letting people who have those guns buy things like armor-piercing bullets.”
The Puffington Host reports that Bloomberg is not standing behind his statement: “According to a tweet from New York Times reporter Kate Taylor, Bloomberg tried to walk that statement back on Tuesday. ‘I don’t mean literally go on strike,’ Bloomberg said, according to Taylor. ‘In fact in New York they can’t go on strike–there’s a law against it.’ ”
We are unable to comprehend what Bloomberg could have in mind when he says he didn’t mean his comment “literally.” Last year, when lefties went hysterical over “violent” and “eliminationist” rhetoric from the right, it was clear that almost all of the examples they cited were not literal. Politicians and political observers have long drawn metaphors from the language of combat. Some such metaphors, like the word “campaign,” are so ingrained in the language that they are dead ones.
“We’re not going to protect you.”
By contrast, as far as we know there is no metaphorical meaning of the phrase “go on strike.” Further, the context of Bloomberg’s remarks makes clear that he did mean the phrase literally. Merriam-Webster defines strike as “a work stoppage by a body of workers to enforce compliance with demands made on an employer.” Bloomberg said he wants police to declare “collectively”: “We’re not going to protect you. Unless you, the public, through your legislature, do what’s required to keep us safe.”
In Bloomberg’s defense, one might observe that he urged police only to “say” they would “go on strike,” not to follow through on the threat if lawmakers refuse to meet the putative demands. It must be said, too, that there are already plenty of laws on the books designed specifically to protect cops–for example, making the murder of a policeman a more serious offense than one in which the victim is a civilian. (Some of these laws apply to other government workers as well. New York City buses have signs warning that it is “a felony” to kill the driver.)
And whether Bloomberg meant to suggest a real strike threat or an empty one, it seems obvious that such a move would be counterproductive. The prospect of police shirking their duty to protect the citizenry strengthens, not weakens, the case for private ownership of firearms and other tools of self-defense.
A police strike, as Bloomberg figured out a day late, is illegal in itself. Bloomberg’s strike would be for the purpose of curtailing the citizenry’s constitutional rights. The mayor urged an unlawful rebellion by government employees against their employers, the people. Since ours is a government of the people, established by the Constitution, this was nothing less than a call for insurrection.