Hidden By A Myth
America's police force is idealized and mythologized in a way that blinds people to the reality on the ground. America's police departments are almost entirely lacking in accountability and in desperate need of reform. Some are fine. I'm not here to praise the often praised, because it distracts from the vitally important task of fixing what's broken. If that statement bothers you, then I ask you to consider whether you have an idealized view of the police that distorts your sight and blinds you to the evil that is done in the name of law and order.
Many Americans think our police forces are largely made up of Officer Friendly. He is someone who is dedicated and selfless. Someone courageous, even heroic. Someone highly trained. Someone who serves the community by upholding law and order. Someone who seeks justice. Someone who daily puts their life on the line to enter an urban warfare zone of lawlessness and crime.
What if that stereotype is too optimistic?
What if too many officers are undertrained, lacking the knowledge necessary to tame their fears and deescalate tense confrontations? What if a few others are cowardly bullies who use force to hide their fear? Or are thugs, who react to verbal aggression with physical aggression? What if those officers enjoy wearing the uniform because they enjoy exercising power over others? And what if too many officers create the conflict that they're trying to prevent, because they've been told to view those around them as enemies and they act accordingly?
Individual members of America's police forces have spent the last week revealing the truth about themselves through their actions. Don't assume that every clash with protestors was instigated by the protestors or that the anger the protestors feel is unjustified and easily dismissed. For the past 7 days, the bad actors among America's police forces have chosen to display the contempt that they have for law and order. Watch their behavior with an open mind. Please.