On May 4th, 1970, members of the Ohio National Guard fired into a crowd of students protesting the Vietnam War, killing four unarmed students and wounding nine. This clearly unjustified use of force by the military against US citizens protesting an ongoing war lit a powder-keg in an already intensifying anti-war movement.
Part of this escalation in anti-war sentiment was an extreme hostility towards members of the military. Protesters believed the Vietnam War was an intensely immoral conflict. They projected that sense of immorality onto the soldiers returning from the front. They were called baby killers and pigs, and held up as indiscriminate killers whose depravity embodied an ugly and racist element of western imperialism.
Since that time, American society has grown to realize that it was wrong to project political disagreements on the soldiers who served in Vietnam. Our collective guilt over the way America treated these soldiers when they came home is a big reason why soldiers in recent conflicts have been supported and honored by most Americans despite the conflicts themselves being intensely divisive issues. As a society, we can now debate the morality of military conflict without projecting those questions of morality onto the soldiers themselves.
Today, law enforcement is facing a moment very similar to the one that faced the military so many years ago. Terrible tragedies have occurred that have shocked the nation, several of which have involved clearly unjustified uses of force against African Americans. Disturbing videos of these tragedies have lit a powder-keg in an already intensifying sense of ethnic unrest.
The cry for social justice has focalized into extreme hostility towards law enforcement. Protesters see the justice system as an intensely immoral institution. They’re projecting that sense of immorality onto everyday police officers. Officers are being called racists, pigs, and fascists, held up as indiscriminate killers whose depravity embodies an ugly and racist element of American society.
Just as activists in the Vietnam Era projected their political disagreements with the war and the criminal acts of the few upon the soldiers of that time period, today’s police officers are facing the brunt of the hostility and vitriol over problems that are far beyond the average officer’s ability to fix.
In other words, we are failing police, not unlike how our country failed the generation of veterans that served in Vietnam. And, we as a society need to wake up to the fact that we are repeating history and causing severe damage to another generation of selfless servants who are simply answering a call. Whatever problems there are with the system, with the laws, or with the institutions of justice, the individual officer does not encapsulate these problems.
First, we must reject the premise being embraced by far too many that significant numbers of law enforcement professionals hold racist attitudes or that many officers remain silent when they see abuse from fellow officers. Anyone who has spent considerable time with law enforcement professionals knows how true the maxim is that “no one hates a bad cop more than a good cop.”
Second, we must understand that a large factor in what we are seeing is the growing rift between officers and the communities they serve, a rift often worse in communities where historical racism in law enforcement has existed or where historical poverty along ethnic lines is most acute. If we allow this rift to grow, it will only lead to more and more confrontation as officers and those they interact with become more and more distrustful of each other.
And finally, we have to come to grips with the reality that the ongoing violence and the calls to defund the police are only making the situation worse. Demonizing the law enforcement profession, removing positive portrayals of law enforcement in media, increasing the negative interactions between police and their communities through constant and hostile confrontation, and stripping agencies of their resources and manpower will only succeed in turning this growing rift into a deep and dangerous chasm.
This article is expanded from a segment of the August 9th issue of Self-Evident, a weekly newsletter by Justin Stapley.
COVID-19 may take down an independent news outlet
Nobody said running a media site would be easy. We could use some help keeping this site afloat.
Colleagues have called me the worst fundraiser ever. My skills are squarely rooted on the journalistic side of running a news outlet. Paying the bills has never been my forte, but we’ve survived. We have ads on the site that help, but since the site’s inception this has been a labor of love that otherwise doesn’t bring in the level of revenue necessary to justify it.
When I left a nice, corporate career in 2017, I did so knowing I wouldn’t make nearly as much money. But what we do at NOQ Report to deliver the truth and fight the progressive mainstream media narrative that has plagued this nation is too important for me to sacrifice it for the sake of wealth. We know we’ll never make a ton of money this way, and we’re okay with that.
Things have become harder with the coronavirus lockdowns. Both ad money and donations that have kept us afloat for a while have dropped dramatically. We thought we could weather the storm, but the so-called “surge” or “2nd-wave” that mainstream media and Democrats are pushing has put our prospects in jeopardy. In short, we are now in desperate need of financial assistance.
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