It ain’t rocket science, people. Fear begets fight or flight. But sometimes – e.g. when defiance of legitimate authority is involved – the latter isn’t an option. Fight requires anger. And anger, if it’s to do its job, is notoriously impervious to sober second thought. Now add the aggravating element of the ‘other’, and what we get, predictably enough, is white officers shooting unarmed black men.

If we find this lamentable – and I’m assuming we do – we need to take a page from Plato’s Republic. His solution to (what he could as readily have called) the policing paradox is how we train the pedigree dog. The dog needs to be taught who are members of its pack and who are not. And, when called upon, as pack members often are, to discipline other members of its pack, it needs to learn to control its jaws.

So how can the American republic imitate Plato’s? Start by housing every white recruit in a black family for the duration of his training. When deliberately moved to anger, reward him for sit and stay. And, finally, graduate those and only those who’ve bonded with their host family, and who automatically think twice when there’s time to do so. And, where possible, who take the time to do so.


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