Americanism has a weird obsession with vague notions of “law and order.” At its core, there’s nothing unique about a society whose existence depends on a collective respect for its own internal rule system — indeed, that’s basically just a society. But those who buy the narrative of Good Ol’ American Jingoism love to toss around their platitudes about being a “nation of laws,” without giving much thought to what that actually means, or who is served by that law and order. Whatever the status quo they got used to, that’s the way things have always been, and thus, it is right.
Consider the US Department of Justice. I’ve never even given much thought to its founding; I hadn’t thought much about the origins of police departments growing out of slave patrols until it was explicitly brought to my attention either.
But Smithsonian Magazine has a great new piece about the origins of the DoJ, which began on July 1, 1870 — exactly 150 years ago this month. And it turns out, it’s a direct extension of Reconstruction-era struggles, and was created specifically to enforce racial equality by fighting voter suppression and the KKK:
An interesting link found among my daily reading