A frequent rallying cry from the more radical anti-Vietnam war protesters, calling for death to law enforcement officers. Today, it is , “Pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon.” It should surprise no one that three law enforcement officers have been murdered (assassinated?) here in Colorado in the last few weeks. Many more in the US overall. Frequently.
“It’s got to stop!” Many people, including Larry Elder, Sheriff of El Paso County, where one Deputy was just killed, two others wounded and a civilian paralyzed, are incensed and want these killings to stop. The local paper, the Gazette, is demanding to know why, and that it be stopped. Let’s start finding a solution with looking at how we think about and talk about law enforcement officers. Do we call them pigs? How do we react when others do that? Are the cops as pigs socks that Colin Kaepernick wore during his notorious kneel-down correctly a part of this discussion?
Cut to the key point: If you think about and talk about certain types of people as less than human, you will treat them as less than human.
Secondary point: Even if you don’t actively participate in the above, but do not stand up and loudly protest, you are part of the problem.
Our history, and the history of the world, is replete with cruel examples of both of the above key points. Let’s list a very few:
- Christians and Muslims have hurled heavy-duty insults at each other for over a thousand years. Christians scream “Heathen” and “Unbeliever” at Muslims, while Muslims shout “Infidel” and “Unbeliever” at Christians. Note that both sides see the other as unbelievers. And it continues, often as an excuse to mistreat and kill people on the “other side.”
- Those who supported slavery justified their appalling behavior by claiming that blacks were simply not on the same human level as whites, therefore being correctly subject to any kind of treatment. (They did not explain why it was okay to treat blacks worse than domestic and farm animals.) Some in the Old South in America took their hatred further, “Free Society! we sicken at the name. What is it but a conglomeration of greasy mechanics, filthy operatives, small-fisted farmers, and moon-struck theorists? All the Northern men and especially the New England States are devoid of society fitted for well-bred gentlemen. The prevailing class one meet with is that of mechanics struggling to be genteel, and small farmers who do their own drudgery, and yet are hardly fit for association with a Southern gentleman’s body servant. This is your free society which Northern hordes are trying to extend into Kansas.” From an 1856 issue of Alabama’s Muscogee Herald.
- In Nazi Germany, Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, the mentally challenged, and others were seen as sub-human. How else could tens of thousands of humans, both German military and civilians, see the work of exterminating those listed as nothing more than a logistical exercise, devoid of any moral component? (When the Nazis described Jews as Untermenschen, or subhumans, they didn’t mean it metaphorically.) “So, we are now going to have a total solution to the Jewish question. The programme is clear. It reads: total separation, total segregation! What does this mean? It does not only mean the total exclusion of the Jews from the German economic system… It means much more! No German can be expected to live under the same roof as Jews. The Jews must be chased out of our houses and our residential districts and made to live in rows or blocks of houses where they can keep to themselves and come into contact with Germans as little as possible. They must be clearly identified…. And when we compel the rich Jews to provide for the ‘poor’ of their race, which will certainly be necessary, they will all sink together into a pit of criminality. As this happens, we will be faced with the harsh necessity of eradicating the Jewish underworld, just as we root out criminals from our own orderly state: with fire and sword. The result will be the certain and absolute end of Jewry in Germany; its complete annihilation!” Adolf Hitler, November 1938. (Note that Hitler made his intentions known well before he started WWII.)
- Antifa, “Pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon.” Today. In the US.
“It’s got to end!” I agree with Sheriff Elder and others. And we need to start with how we talk about law enforcement. If we call them pigs or allow others to do so without protesting loudly and long, then we should not be at all surprised that someone attacks–and possibly kills–a cop. After all, things like ham and bacon come from dead pigs. And few mourn their deaths; they are just pigs, right?
This clearly applies to how we see all types of groups of people. See them as less human than we see ourselves, and we will treat them that way. Allow other to get away with that, and they will act accordingly. Some examples:
- Who had the best chance to stop slavery in the Confederacy? No, it was not Lincoln or McClellan; it was the general population in the South.
- Who had the first and best chance to stop Hitler? No, it was not Chamberlain; it was the German people.
- Who has the best chance of stopping law enforcement assassinations? We do.
- Who has the best chance to stop all types of dehumanizing words and actions? We do.
Stepping up to our responsibility when it comes to stopping law enforcement murders means more than saying a small prayer, or attending a public funeral. Or even contributing to the surviving family members. We must stop thinking and talking this way. And we must not tolerate that behavior in others.
Parting thought, “If you can’t get behind our law enforcement men and women, feel free to stand in front of them.”
Will Luden, writing from my home office at 7,200 feet in Colorado Springs.