*The following is an opinion column by R Muse*
As an American with a fairly large percentage of family members involved in law enforcement at all levels, it has been difficult watching once-respected public servants being tarnished by trigger-happy racist cops. Even though police officers, prison guards, and sheriff’s deputies are just regular working people, there was a time they were universally regarded as role models and upstanding citizens in any community. However, now there is even less reason to look with much respect on the law enforcement community because they not only align themselves closely to gun fanatics and racists, they still wholeheartedly support the nation’s leading racist, xenophobe, and misogynist Donald J. Trump.
What is appalling is that no matter how hateful Trump has been, the largest police officer union in the nation continues to endorse that “nasty man” regardless he has been accused of what any decent law enforcement officer would regard as criminal behavior; unless, of course, police agree with Trump that sexually assaulting women is not a crime and just something “normal men” do and like to talk about. But it’s not just Trump’s confessed predilection to sexual assaulting women, it is his racism, xenophobia and “frightening contempt for the [Constitution and] basic principles of democracy” that make one pause when considering it is precisely what police unions are endorsing.
The largest law enforcement union in America, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), represents 330,000 members and stunningly claims that it is “the voice of those who dedicate their lives to protecting and serving our communities.”
It leaves one to wonder exactly what percentage of the citizens in “their communities” police really “serve and protect” if they are standing with Donald Trump; a man who represents a very real threat to immigrants, women, refugees, Muslims, and people of color. If law enforcement is solidly behind Trump, then the logical conclusion is that they exist solely to serve and protect white Christian males, because they are the only demographic that Trump has not targeted for his wrath or expressed abject contempt for, if not outright hatred.
The police unions, except FOP, that have endorsed Trump did so months ago and it was in response to statements, pledges, and proposals he made that clearly beg the question: just how much does the nation’s law enforcement community really know about the Constitution they swear to defend, or the laws of the land they are sworn to enforce? It doesn’t seem to be the case that they know too much.
One police union jumped on the Trump bandwagon after he told them that,
“One of the first things I’d do in terms of executive order if I win will be sign a strong, strong statement that will go out to the country, out to the world, that anybody killing policemen, policewoman, police officer, anybody killing a police officer, death penalty is going to happen, OK.’’
Apparently, that remark made an impression on the New England Police Benevolent Association that quickly endorsed Trump revealing it is unaware how the criminal justice system works in America or what laws are already on the books. If they had a clue, they would comprehend that it is primarily the purview of individual states to pass legislation imposing capital punishment for any crime occurring in their state, not a presidential executive order; at least not in a democracy with a Constitution. And, there is already a federal law (18 U.S. Code § 1121) imposing the death penalty for “the murder of a State or local law enforcement official or other person aiding in a Federal investigation, or the murder of a State correctional officer.”
Trump also garnered law enforcement endorsements and kudos for proposing a ban on Muslims, another group police unions apparently believe do not warrant their service or protection. What any citizen should be asking is: how on Earth can any law enforcement entity or union ever endorse an un-American like Trump and still claim to support and defend the Constitution? With his anti-immigrant racism, call for a ban on adherents of a non-Christian religion, support for racial profiling, or encouraging his 2nd Amendment supporters to shoot Hillary Clinton certainly are not the agenda of an American supporting the law of the land, the U.S. Constitution. And, to top it all off the unions representing nearly all law enforcement officials are still standing with him despite bragging about sexually assaulting women.
Although various individual police unions endorsed Trump months ago, they can rescind them with ease. Most were made during the Republican Party primaries when Trump was just getting his hate in gear for the national stage. There is an active petition calling on the largest law enforcement union to take back its support and if police ever want the trust and respect the majority of officers deserve, they would be wise to re-think supporting a candidate the majority of the population believes is a monster.
As noted by the petition’s sponsor, Credo, “Everyone deserves to be able to trust the police in their community, but for far too many people, that’s already not the case. It’s horrible to imagine how much more damage [law enforcement’s] endorsement of Trump will do.” Although Credo makes a good point, the damage has already been done and setting aside Trump’s ban on Muslims, Republican states have enacted many of the policies that allow rogue law enforcement officers to earn distrust in their communities without endorsing and supporting Donald J. Trump.
Donald Trump didn’t create that distrust, but he has given every indication that if elected he will move the proverbial Heaven and Earth to increase that distrust to the point that nearly all Americans who aren’t white male Christians will fear law enforcement instead of trusting it and most people know fear soon turns to hate; an emotion Americans should never have regarding law enforcement.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.