On Cop Worship

Courtesy of Fires Never Extinguished:

Dead cops are treated like little dead angels — heroes, pure of heart and motive, who meet their tragic end too soon and in defense of the smallest among us. It’s as if every cop dies rescuing an old lady from a house on fire, a box of kittens under one arm and a guilty-faced arsonist firmly gripped by the collar in the other. Justice served!

A common attack lobbed at those who dare criticize the cops and their role in society is that, despite one’s lack of faith in the oft-touted immaculateness of the paladin in blue, “They’d protect you, too, even though you hate them.” Of course, those of us who have seen their brutality liberally meted out in person know better. For instance, one reason most Americans have never been clubbed by a cop is because they’ve never been to a protest, not because cops don’t beat people at protests. Likewise, middle class white people generalize their at worst mildly annoying experiences with ticket-issuing cops to everyone else, and therefore remain baffled each and every time a black kid is dragged from a car and beaten by one of them.

The coverage given to cops, and the heaps of posthumous praise piled on them, is rivaled but not surpassed, only by the attention given to dead soldiers. Perceived disparagers of the troops or their mission are counseled that they fight for our right to dissent, even if not the rights of those they invade and torture (although their defenders rarely even concede that much). And as with cops, only the most superficial investigations into their mission is countenanced. They do violence in far off villages so that we can be free, the logic goes. Not to protect and advance the interests of the capitalist and political class. No, nothing so crass, to be sure. In the common parlance, all enemies of the military are Hitler or terrorists with ticking time bombs. Of the cop, their targets are child molesters, murderers and rapists. And all critics of the police and (“our”) soldiers are appeasers, ingrates or apologists for the above listed menagerie of foes of honest humanity. Or Reds. Now we start to get to the crux of it, don’t we?

When a cop dies, freeways are shut down, like the 101 in the north Valley was for Drenth’s corpse and it’s accompanying tearful and politically opportunistic entourage. Traffic is diverted, local politicians and police officials are given free reign to praise the officer without suffering the cruel editor’s snips and edits. Sometimes the media covers the funeral procession live. Flags are lowered to half-staff. Again, just like soldiers. Indeed, the willingness of capitalist society to shut down its holy arteries of commerce to venerate its fallen protectors reveals their true purpose. But we already knew that.

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