After Friday’s police spraying of non-violent protesters at U.C. Davis, I—like any reasonable person—am very angry and sad. Right now, I’d like to talk about part of my anger: the firestorm of apologia for the police. Only the most evil of people are defending the specific police and their actions. You know, people like Bill O’Reilly. (Even Megyn Kelly seems to be reticent to go that far, even if, you know, pepper spray is “a food product, essentially.”) But even people I normally agree with—for example, Ed Schultz—are going out of their way to protect police, even though they deserve no such thing. Have not the police all along done exactly what the installed powers have asked of them? Have they ever, with the one exception discussed below, broken with the Nuremberg defense of just following orders regardless of how heinous the orders they are following?
Below are four police myths that I am getting tired of hearing. These are evil people, doing evil work, for even more evil people. And if there are police out there who don’t like my characterization, I suggest they start refusing some of these orders. The reckoning is coming. And if they think the 1% will hesitate to throw them under the bus at the first sign of trouble, then they are even stupider than the IQ tests they must fail to join the force would indicate.
Police need to be better trained.
Police are trained very well. They don’t beat up protesters and pepper spray them because they aren’t well trained. They do it because they are extremely well trained.
Police are part of the 99%.
Police are paid the same as the 99%, but they are part of the protective services of the 1%. You wouldn’t say that the Praetorian Guard were normal Roman citizens. They were what allowed the generally abusive Roman Empire to continue on for so long. The police allow the existing unjust system to continue on. They are leaches of the 1%. They are not the 99%.
Most cops are good.
Again: the ones performing the vile acts are just the ones performing the vile acts. Modern management philosophy holds that you make all workers as interchangeable as possible. The reason the police at the protests in Wisconsin didn’t turn violent was that they saw their fellow off-duty police friends there. If they hadn’t, those protesters would have been victims of the same kind of violence that all the other protesters are receiving.
Police are just like the rest of us.
Perhaps the funniest line I have ever heard (and I have heard it many times from many different people), is the answer to the question, “Why did you go into law enforcement?” The answer: “Because I want to help people.” I used to hear this same line from pre-med students; they too just wanted to help people; the fact that their chosen profession was very lucrative had nothing to do with it. People become police—in all its varied forms—because they are naturally rule-oriented thinkers. They are the kind of people who really do need the idea of a god to behave properly. People who just want to help others become ministers and social workers and even nurses. They don’t become cops or soldiers. And those who do what may be necessary work (I don’t think so, but most people do) are not just like the rest of us.
I would be happy to take back all that I have said, just as soon as I start seeing active duty police pushing back against their orders to brutalize peaceful protesters. I have no expectation of seeing this, however. In the almost five decades of my life, I have rarely seen police act like anything but the evil automatons we are daily witnessing.