We’ve all done that – almost reflexively taking the side of the police when they get into a dispute about an action. And, truth be told, very often it turns out the cop either acted correctly or had extenuating circumstances. But, not always. We have come across those cases where the officer was clearly in the wrong – and to our credit, we didn’t try to defend the indefensible. We’re not, after all, #MeToo Liberals urging a vote for Joe “Fingers” Biden. But I also think that we got a little too far in defending the police.
Over the past few days, I think we’ve all seen police officers using ridiculous actions to enforce closures and social distancing. I think the most egregious example is a Texas SWAT team (a rather chubby SWAT team, now dubbed “Meal Team Six” on social media) shutting down a bar which had opened in defiance of Coronavirus orders. But that is just one of scores – and it is starting to break into the Conservative mind that these police officers are “just obeying orders”…but insane, anti-human and likely unconstitutional orders. And if they’ll do that now, when won’t they do it?
It has been a rule since 1945 that obedience to orders is not exculpatory. The Nazis tried to get themselves off the hook by claiming they were just following orders but the ruling has been – and it is correct – that no human being is obligated to obey obviously illegal orders. Our police don’t seem to have that institutional belief: they appear to be willing to obey any order from on high…and this is disturbing us on the Right because we always assumed that most law enforcement people are, well, part of us. That when faced with an order to arrest us for political dissent, they’d refuse. Now we know different – when faced with a choice between enforcing an unconstitutional order and risking their pension, they’ll enforce the unconstitutional order.
This is just writing large what we’ve seen out of the FBI for the past few years. Even President Trump still couches his criticism of the FBI in terms of “most of the agents are good people”…just a few bad apples, right? But if they are good agents, why haven’t they come forward to inform on the bad apples? Right – doing so risks their career. And this makes them not good…in fact, it makes them bad; as bad as the actual bad actors. After all, Eichmann merely scheduled the trains…it took tens of thousands of German railway employees to actually get the trains from point A to point B.
Readers here know I’ve long been in favor of major reforms of the police and the abolition of the FBI…but now I think there is an urgency which was previously lacking. Those charged with enforcing the laws of the United States are showing themselves to be enemies of freedom. That their corporate identity (and fat pensions) are their biggest concern…and if that means they have to throw innocent people in jail, so be it.
On the whole, “back the blue” still makes sense – the police do a job most of us can’t and they deal with the seamy underside of civilization. But if we are to back the blue, then the blue had better be worth backing. They had better, that is, be dedicated to truth and justice above all. And it is we, the people, who will have to make sure that those we have delegated to enforces laws to are worthy of our trust.