Your United States of America

Detail of cartoon by Brian McFadden, 3 December 2014, via Daily Kos Comics.There are days when it absolutely sucks to be an American. Most days you can cheer yourself up by saying, “At least I’m not in Afghanistan!” Or Iraq. Or … well, yeah, that’s the thing, isn’t it?

Here’s the thing about that, the unspoken cheer-your-sorry-ass-up reality about life in the United States: Of course it could be worse. I could be black!

That ain’t gonna help our African-American neighbors cheer up, though. And, in truth, it shouldn’t cheer anyone, period.

A friend of mine noted, via Facebook, that now we’re going to see what a real riot looks like in the wake of a grand jury’s decision to not indict the blue-clad beast that killed Eric Garner. In truth, we should probably hope for a different approach; riots don’t seem to make the point. Then again, perhaps that is the point. The Huffington Post ran with the splash headline, “Strangler Cop Walks”, and perhaps there was a time when this would seem outrageous to suit-and-tie, church-going, patriotic Americans. That is to say, how dare anyone speak ill of the police, or something like that.

But the institutions of law have created extraordinary protection for homicidal law enforcement. Killer cops don’t really need an excuse. After all, as we learned in Missouri, being afraid of black people is a reason for a cop to shoot a black person.

Let us be blunt: When it’s two idiots calling themselves “New Black Panthers” plotting to hit the cops, or an ex-con gunning down badges in a coffee shop, it is easy for people to back even the worst of law enforcement officers. But just how much do our police officers think they can get away with before others decide it’s time to take up arms in defense against cops? And just how ugly do you think that will or won’t be?

To the one, it should never come to that. To the other, it is not entirely clear such a threshold is so far away. There will come a day when the police will only have the sympathy of institutionalists and pacifists, and those of us among the latter will simply be saying, “Well, yeah, but you shouldn’t be killing the cops.”

And some of us would rather not witness that outcome in American society. Things should never get so far out of hand, but police have been operating outside the pale for a long time, and these are not the old days when such things could be swept under the rug as a local outrage.

The truth of the matter is that while nobody wants to die, some people do apply for jobs in which the potential of such harm increases dramatically. But here is the thing about the police: Part of your job is to take the bullets for us. Just like a soldier, sometimes it’s just your turn to die. And if you are so afraid of that outcome that you cannot properly enforce the law, then don’t be a cop.

And that doesn’t even begin to touch on willfully provocative behavior. Right now there is a reason so many people view the police as a league of professional sleazebag cowards. We just watched a prosecutor deliberately tank a grand jury investigation in Missouri, and as of this afternoon people are trying to figure out how police officers can break their own code of conduct in such a manner that causes a person’s death and simply skate.

People are tired of police officers killing unarmed suspects. And they’re tired of watching cops get away with it on the grounds ignorant cowardice is part of the job description.

Something’s gotta give, and what we don’t need it to be is millions of dead cops.

So maybe it would be better if the police called off their hunting season.


McFadden, Brian. “Uncivil defense”. The Huffington Post. 3 December 2014.

Mathias, Christopher and Lilly Workneh. “Grand Jury Declines To Indict NYPD Officer In Chokehold Death Of Eric Garner”. The Huffington Post. 3 December 2014.

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