“We back the blue.” You constantly hear Republicans say that. Just how true is it? I’ll attempt to answer that below.
The general perception is that conservatives are law abiding and law enforcement supporting Americans and that liberals are basically just anarchists. Like all good lies, there is a shred of believability in that but it’ s mostly malarkey.
Much of contemporary American policing grew out of the company enforcers who acted against strikers and before that the hunters of runaway slaves. Books upon books have been written on both and I won’t get into the details here. While we no longer have slavery in America – although there is a far right element that wouldn’t mind bringing it back, especially in the form of prison labor – since strikes are rare, companies now employ white collar anti-union operatives. The establishment tries to stop strikes before they happen by not allowing unions to form in the first place.
Policing is aimed at street crimes and it’s first goal is to protect private property; in too many cases the property of the wealthy and powerful. In those instances, those people certainly back the blue. Why wouldn’t they? The police are effectively their private security force paid for by taxpayer dollars. If the police were to let’s say protect a picket line that would be looked on much differently. More than one “off the record” call or discreet visit would be made to the mayor and or police chief.
If you haven’t picked it up by now there is certainly a racial component to when the right backs the blue. A farmer backs the blue when they keep his workers, many of whom are non-white and undocumented, “in line”. If law enforcement forces him to pay them in accordance with the law and verify their immigration status then law enforcement is a bunch of jackbooted thugs who are overreaching and anti-business.
If a demonstration is permitted and being held legally, and unmarked law enforcement violently breaks it up so their leader can do a photo-op that is fine with the right wing (a/k/a Republicans). (Yes, I’m thinking of the Battle of Lafayette Park.)
However, if a mob tries to break into the United States Capital when it is closed to visitors because of a pandemic and Congress is in joint session and the police try to enforce the rules the police will not be backed. When multiple members of that mob attack law enforcement causing scores of injuries and multiple deaths the attackers are honored as heroes by the radical right and defended by a plethora of elected Republicans. (Yes, I’m thinking of 1/6.)
Now let’s suppose that after multiple requests a former president refuses to return items that belong to the federal government, not him, and in fact lies about it; that the FBI serves a search warrant on the premises where he lives and is stupid enough to store many of the missing documents, many of them classified. In response the extreme right takes up arms and issues threats against the FBI and the National Archives.
I find the National Archives part especially interesting. The FBI is a legitimate law enforcement agency largely made up of agents with law degrees who, ironically, are overwhelmingly conservative and registered Republicans so I can see where they might be fearsome, especially to less well educated law breakers. The staff of the National Archives is basically composed of clerks, librarians and curators. Not exactly heavily armed ex-jocks.
To a large degree I agree with the “thin blue line” philosophy. Briefly, many in law enforcement believe they are all that stands between order and anarchy. I think that defunding and certainly disbanding the police is inane! What would better serve society and simultaneously make the difficult job of being a street cop less difficult is a reallocation of responsibilities and with that the related resources. We simply ask street cops to do too many jobs they are neither equipped nor trained for.
That said I still have a huge problem with police killing unarmed civilians who pose no imminent threat to them. It’s pretty difficult to justify multiple gunshot wounds to the back of a corpse.
Despite being a liberal I basically back the blue. Perhaps having been a white boy who grew up in the suburbs and now a senior citizen, (rest assured both white privilege and senior citizen privilege exist in America), has something to do with it. I can’t imagine what it would be like if we didn’t have law enforcement. Well, perhaps I can and I don’t like what I imagine!
I don’t think either side gives the blue unqualified backing but if you juxtapose rhetoric and actions the Republicans certainly don’t!
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