I feel I need to say, once and for all, that I am not “anti-soldier”, “anti-police”, “anti-senior citizen” or for that matter “anti-white” or “anti-male”. I am glad that America’s first responders, in many states including my own, receive preferential tax rates, parades, respect, even now preferential parking spots at my own Home Depot. I respect their service, despite it often being for the wrong cause of global colonialism.
When W, Cheney & Rumsfeld attacked Iraq, I opposed the action. Hour after hour, RW radio and Fox News called out those holding my position; chanting the mantra “You cannot support the troops if you oppose the commander”. I was branded a traitor, a hater of my own country because I disagreed with her leadership. In that era, followers vandalized the cars of those with pro-soldier/anti-war bumper stickers (and the scarcity of bumper stickers was cited as “proof” the war was popular). Yet, a few years later, those same billionaire-owned channels praised the GOP when it consistently opposed the policies of President Obama, also a war-time president; refusing to approve his ambassadors, even going so far as drafting a letter to a foreign government to override his foreign policy. They touted a new mantra: “It is PATRIOTIC to oppose bad leadership”. We saw vile & hateful protest signs, bumper stickers, marches; where any American success was either reclassified a failure or credited to anyone but the president. It was a time that politicians and media preferred our country fail rather than the president receive credit for even one success. In each case, RW lemmings vilified … ME! Have you seen the side-by-side videos of Sean Hannity regarding President Obama & Donald Trump discussing simply meeting with the leader of North Korea? In the first case, TREASON; in the second “World Leadership”. And lemmings parrot both.
How can these folks like that be asked to understand my nuanced position on supporting cops & soldiers? They do not have a position of their own, and they do not question what they are told, yet freely act upon emotional calls from media … even when they are contradictory?
I do not oppose giving job hiring preferences to veterans, special tax privileges, and special services to those serving overseas. I demand federal rules regarding, for instance, the suspension of auto repossession of active service members, and providing extra social services to the families they left behind. Sure, churches and neighborhoods can and should rally together. But in some communities it may fall on government (taxes & taxpayers) to ease their burden. And how can any so called patriot underfund the VA while (funding unwanted weapons) and oppose PTSD / suicide prevention programs? I have dozens of such well reasoned examples. I support the generous retirement package granted to cops, to match their rigorous training, complex rules & generally awful job. It takes a special person to be a cop or soldier, and that’s not me. So, I support the troops. But I ask: where does such support end?
For me the end is the act of naming every bridge, park, intersection after ONLY this class of “Hero”. It is a form of veneration, of ultra-nationalism, of worshiping the “war for profit” industry that benefits the wealthiest and harms the working class here and abroad. Sure, it was important to fight Hitler and his gas chambers, to drop the A-Bomb on Japan and her kamikazes pilots, in that day. But current geopolitical wars for natural resources are immoral, and memorials at every bridge and intersection serve as the “opiate of the masses”.
I am told that across our country police are 99.5% honest; officers operate by the book, and are well trained careful enforcers of our laws. I absolutely believe that. Maybe its 99.6 or 99.7 as far as I know. I’m also told there are over 600,000 active service LEO’s. I believe that, too. It may be 700 or 800 thousand for all I know. I honor and respect the service they provide. When I meet an officer, whether at a social gathering or a traffic stop, I am respectful and never part without adding “thank you for your service”. That said …
We have seen the YouTube videos where a radical libertarian refuses to open his window for a traffic stop. Like many, I consider these guys goof-balls, but well within their rights and their unique priorities make America safe for the rest of us. The officer in the video holds him for “suspicion”, fetches then uses a drug dog to find “probable cause” for a search. The officer, time after time, raises his arm to call the dog to leap (as in its training), then says that leap was “triggered by drug scent”, and justifies a search. If the search provides nothing, neither that officer or that dog faces repercussion. This act is no less a crime than “selling loosies” on a corner or pulling a gun to mug a man’s wallet: Premeditated Breaking & Entering. Yet, that cop, and that dog, get off scott-free, time after time after time. No cop, no DA, no judge or citizen’s review board holds them accountable for the act we see on videotape. How is that dog, now proven to be a unreliable police stooge, allowed to continue as a “certified” drug dog to justify future searches? Let alone that officer?
We have seen video of a cop drop (plant) a drug packet on otherwise peaceful protesters. I consider myself a peaceful protester, for issues dear to me. When people chain themselves to Abortion clinics, even painting or using bullhorns, cops shrug; but it seems a different response if the protest is for issues more dear to populist (left wing) issues than statist (right wing) issues. The individuals throwing firebombs in Oakland during the OWS protest where videotaped, and shown to be police plants. At the NYC OWS, cops dropped off released mentally ill patients, then claimed it was the college educated social justice protesters that “crapped on a cop car”. Really? But RW (statist) followers believe, and still repeat, those corporate / police created lies.
How can men self identify as a militia and crouch from protection, pointing scoped rifles at BLM officers, send their wives and children out as human shields, then later take and occupy a federal building … yet still be held in respect, and shirk responsibility within the community that includes “oath keeper” cops and sheriffs. I never hear the word “thugs” applied to these … “thugs”. Yet when a teen age black (a 10 year old in one city park?) reaches for ID, waves a comb, wiggles too much during a traffic stop, he’s assumed to pose a deadly threat? No questions asked. There can be video of him running away and shot in the back and still “Deadly threat” is claimed by the DA. When someone, just the next guy on the street, feels that he is probably meeting his judge, jury and executioner … and thus kills a cop (seemingly randomly) … why is he blamed and not the repeated institutional situation that places him there? From a suburban white perspective this situation is impossible to comprehend. But the white bread suburban perspective is shared by less everyday. Under current economic rules, it will soon be a minority.
In Albuquerque, when the DA asked how cops killed a mentally ill citizen, and started an investigation of the individual officers, the police force (through its union leadership) put forth a policy of denying access to ANY active crime scene by ANY assistant DA. Rather than say “We are 99.8% clean”, they said “We must protect the .2% dirty”. Cops decided to hold the entire city hostage; willing to allow criminals to go free on technicalities, willing to allow the framing of non-criminals, to “prove the point” that two of their own could shoot a citizen and nobody; no DA, no judge, no citizen body; could even investigate let alone ever hold them responsible. Sure .2%, maybe its .5%, are bad, but in Abq 100% of cops stood behind the suspected bad ones in a city wide “game of chicken”. I was taught “The man outside the bank is just as guilty as the ones inside robbing it”. In the end, that Abq DA retired, and the cops “Won”, I guess. But the cops participating in holding that city hostage certainly lost MY support. And hopefully everybody in America grew a little less blindly trustful of police. Thank god I don’t live in Albuquerque, I would be protesting every day, seemingly risking my life at the hands of the police.
But let’s also do the math. Using conservative numbers; 600,000 officers with 99.7% good clean cops, that would leave 900 cops out there that are rotten to the core. These few use their badge, and their gun, to put forth their personal agenda (often tied to a political one). They punish personal enemies or personally profit from the world of crime. On the high side the estimate might be 2,000 bad apples. Now in a universe of 600,000 to 700,000, a mere 900 or 1200 bad apples is just a shadow. But imagine, I ask you, if it was discovered that there were 900 muslim sleeper cells in America. Or just 500, or even 100 sprinkled around like cinnamon on toast? Right Wing Congressmen, Fox News, and reactionary web sites invent this kind of threat from thin air, creating such fear invoking numbers so that their fearful followers can cower, ostracize, harass and even kill law abiding America loving citizens of middle eastern origin.
Sometimes these poor people are Coptic Christians, themselves fleeing middle east violence; sometimes Sikhs from India; sometimes peaceful Buddhists and sometimes, indeed, Muslims yet of the highest orders: cardiologists, architects, cancer researchers, and mathematicians. Often they are ravaged families from war torn countries, indirect victims of America’s geopolitical wars for profit. But whether we see a janitor or junior executive, low information RW voters absolutely believe and fear 900 (or more) muslims are in this country to do harm. This fear is used to justify building a 50 billion dollar boarder wall, a total fiction and distraction. Yet, they then shrug at the accepted fact that the same is true of neighborhood LEO’s.
A dozen years ago when the FBI released a report that the next likely danger to society, and to cops in particular, would be disaffected returning gulf war veterans, the right wing media and congressman (especially my own low information Gus Bilirakis) went ballistic to retract the report and “demand an apology” from the FBI to our “heroic troops”. Yet, time has shown that since 9/11 there have been no real threats from muslim terror; yet time after time, year after year, it is indeed right wing heavily armed white guys killing kids, killing minorities, killing cops, harming our society. The FBI was absolutely right, RW scare mongers were wrong, and 900 bad cops need to be rooted out just like you would do for a “bad plumber”, “bad roofer”, “bad surgeon” or “bad car mechanic”. Find them, decide if they can be retrained and retained. If not, give them their pension and early retirement and find them a job on a farm with lots of fresh air and sunshine. But never again allow them the privilege and responsibility of a badge.
But our new upside down American economy has created many victims. We have leaders calling on mob tribalism to victimize “the other”. Let’s drug test welfare recipients even though statistics show there are more recreational drugs used by congressman and lobbyists (also receiving & spending “our tax money”) then the poor. Any surprise that billionaires made money on those tests; selling them, running the clinics, operating the tracking systems. In Florida the toll road system harms the poorest, preventing some I know from taking part-time jobs (“cant break even after you pay the tolls both ways”). Who is a “job creator”?
The company running the billing system couldn’t send out invoices for months, voiding their contract. That’s ok: they were charged no penalties and certainly not fired. Yet, when they said they caught up and could send out the bills finally, 2 weeks before the election, they were told NO! People would get bills for hundreds, maybe thousands of catch-up tolls just days before being asked to vote to reelect incumbents. Hold those invoices till AFTER the election, the incumbents ordered. Oh, by the way, the toll company made BIG donations to the very incumbents making the decision to continue their contract. It’s the same with polluters, and prescription drugs, and health insurers. The rich use fear and media incitement to call upon those that “think” they are rich (just absurd in a world of billionaires and hundred millionaires) so this group will vilify and despise those with less, instead of those actually hoarding the economy.
To the poor, those less poor are whipped up to say: Let them starve, let them suffer, let them die. “Release Barabbas” shouts the crowd of Right Wing low information voters.
We have victims, those that die from lack of medical care. They need blood pressure meds, cant get them (taking time off for the free clinic would lose their minimum wage non union job), so they get a stroke. They have a small cancer, but they don’t have it checked until it is too late to treat. They have diabetes but the co-pays are so high they must choose between food, rent and life saving insulin. They have a curable disease that requires an exotic medicine and the insurance requires a cheap “generic” one which half-ass cures it, then it comes back … stronger. They leave behind families, and bills. I’ve witnessed these.
We live in a country where billionaires have overturned inheritance taxes (hoarding billions for their heirs) justified by the fictional loss of “Family Farms” despite not one family farmer produced to prove this claim. Yet thousands, tens or hundreds of thousands have died directly, slowly, or unknowingly by mistreatment, delay or nonsensical hoops to jump to receive readily available health care. And I’m leaving out lost wages, lost taxes paid, bankruptcies, employer interruptions, career interruptions, all caused just so rich stockholders and CEO’s can siphon off billions attributed to “health care” that does not make one American one iota healthier.
These Victims are America’s current heroes. Those dying at the hospital doorway, to make the rich richer. Those killed protesting strikes. Those shot in the back, or those killed in their homes when no knock warrants are served on the wrong address in a SWAT style instead of slow & strategically. The mentally ill or those with physical symptoms that are killed because of their odd jerks and jumps are assumed to be deadly threats in our hair trigger world (when old white men can walk down the street with a loaded AK47).
THESE are the people we should be naming our streets, our overpasses, our parks after. When someone is wrongly killed, lets everyday remember their name. When somebody dies unnecessarily, lets everyday walk past their name, and repeat their story. Let’s say “never again”, change the rules, not in my country. Like the roadside memorials to car crash victims, meaningful to their families and sobering to the rest of us. ANY ONE of us can be victimized by America’s current economic system, health care system, and judicial system. Let us remember our true heroes.