One of Those Things That Shouldn’t Be Said Explicitly

“Sadly, the bloodshed will most likely continue until those in positions of power realize that the unequivocal support of law enforcement is required to preserve our nation.”

Fraternal Order of Police in Baltimore

Alright, then. From their pen to your eyes: Unequivocal support of law enforcement is required to preserve our nation.

Carte blanche. That’s all they’re demanding. If you don’t back the police hell or high water, regardless of what they do or fail to do, it’s all over, people. So say the Baltimore cops.

Look, this is one of those things filed under “Don’t say this!” That is to say, it is a controversial statement, and actually something many who are frustrated with police power in these United States complain about, that we are expected to give unequivocal support to law enforcement under any circumstances.

Think for a moment of politics. Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai had one of those moments a few years ago when he crowed publicly that the new voter-ID law was going to deliver the state to Mitt Romney in the 2012 election. With accusations of vote rigging already on the table, this was not the best thing to say publicly. Not long before that, Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves bragged that a new TRAP law would end abortion in Mississippi, something the courts have long been known to frown upon. And in the 2012 election we might recall some certain politicians saying certain unfortunate things about rape and pregnancy. As shocking as these comments seemed, they really weren’t anything new in a philosophical context. The chief advocate of the can’t-get-pregnant-from-rape argument was Dr. John C. Willke, the founder of National Right to Life Committee. It is a widespread belief among anti-abortion activists, but most know that it just doesn’t sound good to say aloud in the political arena.

One of the mileposts that will emerge when history considers the recent transformation of American politics—at least since the Clinton Administration, though the phenomenon has accelerated in the new century—will be that the tacit arguments ne’er spoken aloud suddenly came into play. In terms of political theatre, this is nearly slapstick; it is one thing to be committed to a principle regardless of the facts, but another entirely to be so willing to set your own cause back for the sake of saying something spectacularly stupid just so you can get people’s attention. And there is a larger commentary to be explored, having to do with the failure of the Tea Party movement to appreciate the complexity of the political clusterdiddles they complained about; their candidates have, to put it gently, not been well vetted.

But this is a different segment of the discourse. This isn’t about a generation of brash politicians hoping to offend people’s sensibilities but not comprehending why people are offended. This is a straightforward American tradition of promising that society will come to ruin if those who enforce the law are not permitted free rein to operate outside it.

“The bloodshed will most likely continue until those in positions of power realize that the unequivocal support of law enforcement is required to preserve our nation.”

We can confidently tell the Fraternal Order of Police in Baltimore the following: That didn’t help.


WBAL. “Baltimore police union releases statement on NYPD shootings”. 21 December 2014.

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