Defunding does not mean eliminating

To the Editor:

I’m disheartened to see the lack of nuance and honest introspection in the June 25th edition of The Gazette.

First is the political cartoon — “Defund the police” scrawled on a wall, with a boy holding a spray can telling his father, “That’s better, Dad.” The ‘u’ in “defund” having been extended into an ‘e’. The father, dressed in officer attire, looks on with appreciation as a single tear flows from his eyes. It would be beautiful, if not for the implications.

The problem here is the false dichotomy being presented. “Defund” vs “Defend.” As if it were not possible to seek much needed policing reform while at the same time appreciating and honoring those who choose to serve. These are not mutually exclusive concepts.

Most jarring though, is the adjacent article written by none other than Michael Reagan, son of Ronald Reagan. Right off the bat, Michael conflates the concept of “defunding” with “getting rid of.” This is a common misconception, but the author really should (and probably does) know better. To defund the police is not to disband. It is a method of reform by reallocating some funding, and that is it.

What if we instead spent some of the funds traditionally allocated to policing on programs like housing, education, public health, and youth services? That is what is meant when people say we should “defund the police.”

Worse though, is when Michael recalls his father as if he could fix things. He even quotes the “Peace through strength” mantra.

However, Reagan’s past is, unfortunately, littered with counterexamples. He took Nixon’s “war on drugs” and introduced mandatory minimums — a policy that has been referred to as “racial injustice on auto-pilot.”

He increased spending on policing and incarceration over prevention and treatment. And finally, we must remember that just last year the infamous racist Reagan/Nixon tape was revealed.

Let me be clear here, none of this was “strength”, it was oppression, and it is exactly what the protests are fighting against. Reagan-like policies will not solve any of today’s ills — if anything, they probably caused a lot of them.

Phillip Gibson

Goose Creek