For the last few days, Fox News has gone on a campaign of full blown cop sucking that would put even the most loose-throated porn actresses to shame. Fox doesn’t have a monopoly on bowing and scraping before the law enforcers, but few corporate media outlets have been quite so blatant about it recently.
Last night, professional talking head Bill O’Reilly opined that “[s]ome people believe that cops in general are oppressors, especially towards people of color.” Bill follows that up by claiming that “disrespecting” the police leads to violence. He veers off to the specious, irrational implication that in the absence of the police, “law and order would break down” or put more succinctly, people would eat each other if our badge-wearing guardian angels weren’t around weren’t around. Bill also informs the viewers that they signed a law enforcement contract (similar to that Rousseauean Social Contract) that obligates the public to obey the police. Finally, Bill begs for understanding for this poor cop who merely overreacted, filled his hand with a gun, and chased around some teenagers and any decent person would forgive this overreacting jackbooted goon. http://insider.foxnews.com/2015/06/09/bill-oreilly-talking-points-memo-hysterical-media-demonizing-police-will-lead-big-trouble
Sean Hannity did his network-appointed duty and put a jackass “black activist”/Reverend (who also made the rounds on MSNBC) who threatened attacks on the police. Hannity then held up Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin and insinuated that because these interactions with the police may have been justifiable, the actions of the police in this situation (McKinney, TX pool party) were justifiable as well. Recorded instances of police malfeasance are easy to produce to counter that notion. http://insider.foxnews.com/2015/06/09/sean-hannity-guests-clash-over-mckinney-texas-police-incident
Greta Van Sustren interviewed the former Commissioner of the NYPD, Howard Safir, who breathlessly told Greta that the Justice Department spent too much time chasing bad cops and not enough time chasing criminals. They repeated the ridiculous narrative that “cops put their lives on the line every day” and that because the cops feelings are hurt by people criticizing them, the violent crime stats of Baltimore, Maryland are on the upswing (also known affectionately as Bodymore, Murderland). http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/05/17/war-on-police-line-duty-deaths-rise-amid-racially-charged-rhetoric-anti-cop/
Today, Megyn Kelly triumphantly revealed that Marilyn Mosby, the prosecutor for Baltimore, ordered a police crackdown on the area where the police arrested and killed Freddie Gray, as if telling the police to go to a certain place is the same thing as co-signing Gray’s murder. http://nation.foxnews.com/2015/06/10/kelly-file-exclusive-marilyn-mosby-ordered-police-crackdown-area-where-freddie-gray-fled
On Fox’s morning show, Fox & Friends, they repeated the absurd charge that the Fourth Amendment shredding “stop and frisk” policy being ended is the cause of an increase in homicides in New York. The host of the show also tied into the laughable charge of a “war on cops.” Also featured as the guest interviewee, Bernie Kerik, former police commissioner, former Minister of the Interior of Iraq, and tax dodger. http://video.foxnews.com/v/4268372146001/crackdown-on-police-causing-spike-in-crime/#sp=show-clips&v=4268372146001
How does one interpret this seemingly concerted effort to discount valid criticism of the actions and the mentality of the police? Start by acknowledging that the theme of corrupt law enforcers is nothing new. Just look back to the tale of Robin Hood and his nemesis, the Sheriff of Nottingham. In America, the concept of “community policing” which originated with Robert Peel in England in 1823, was used to better organize slave patrols in the Antebellum South. After the Civil War, some of the slave patrollers successfully transitioned into city police departments and county sheriff’s office. The police in America have typically been deployed, not to maintain any general sense of peace or order, but to keep undesirable populations, whether they are slaves, black people, or the poor in general, in check and away from the more respectable citizens. And before any readers in the Northern states bruise themselves too hard patting themselves on the back, keep in mind that the police departments with the worst records of abuses against their citizens are usually northern and urban (New York, Chicago, Philadelphia. I would make Los Angeles an honorary Northern city based on all of the transplants, but that wouldn’t be fair).
The only reason I put up this extremely abbreviated tale of the origin of American police is to combat some of the cop mythology and propaganda that the American people have been inundated with, specifically the ideas that cops are either always good, and that they “put their lives on the line every day.” To the first part, the answer a resounding NO, by fact and by reason. The first famous cop-filming case, the Rodney King assault by the LAPD, shocked the consciences of a nation that had been raised on Andy Griffith, Joe Friday, Steve McGarrett, and Columbo. The fantasy, the Hollywood polishing didn’t mesh with the reality. So naturally, those good law and order citizens had excuses ready. Clearly, Rodney King was a scumbag, which somehow excused him being savagely beaten. The cops were under stress, which excused Rodney King being savagely beaten. The cops put their lives on the line every day, which excused Rodney King being savagely beaten. As time passed and technology improved, tales of police malfeasance emerged from hushed whispers in police locker rooms, jail cells, and the offices of the scant lawyers who dared to oppose the thin blue line, and showed the real price of law and order for all of America to enjoy. Did the police just suddenly develop a taste for shooting fleeing suspects, beating suspects, framing suspects, and generally abusing the rights of American citizens? No. The problem is, there was little hard evidence against the police and even when evidence was on hand, the police had the handy tool, created for them by the judiciary, of “qualified immunity” for when a cop clearly, unequivocally broke the law or violated the Constitution, but still couldn’t be held liable to his victim because “law and order” was at stake. And when the police are not obliged to follow the law, then there really is no law.
But what about the cops who don’t whip ass, or shoot unarmed suspects, or kill suspects in custody? They are as culpable as those that do, especially when they place their membership in the police above their duty to the public. Cops who don’t turn in or arrest bad cops are no better than the bad cops themselves. Anyone who places the idea of fraternity to another person higher than the people from where he derives the power to carry a badge and a gun, is unworthy of the responsibility of upholding the law and the lawful power necessary to uphold it.
The argument that a police officer may be called upon to risk his life is even less compelling than the idea that the police are generally good. Whatever risk is involved in policing, the person with the badge assumed that risk voluntarily. There is no police officer draft. There aren’t roving patrols of cops press-ganging young men into joining the police academy. Every person who is wearing a badge in America is wearing it because they chose to do so. The police are not a hereditary caste or a holy order. It is an occupation, no more or less honorable than a baker or a garbageman. If the current crop of police can’t do that job without a deluge of pats on the back or a soothing stream of thanks and reassurances, or without trampling on the Constitution, they are probably unsuited to it and should find something less stressful and with fewer responsibilities. Instead of demanding that the public ignore police misconduct or excuse it, Fox News should demand that America have a better caliber of police.