Monday, December 29, 2014

On The NYPD Back-Turning

When Mayor Bill DeBlasio spoke at the NYPD funeral masses of cops outside the church turned their backs in a show of disrespect for the man they felt had at least massively criticized them and had, perhaps, some actual culpability in the assassination-style slaying of two officers.

There is little question where one falls on a partisan-scale in this event: While New York is a blue state and NYC is a blue city, DeBlasio is, fairly plainly, an avatar of the left. The NYPD don't have a political flavor any more than police in-general do--but they are pretty clearly on the Right in this case (being both (A) the Law and Order force along every spectrum you could apply that to and (B) on the "other side" of the political divide that the Left rallied to in every killing, kinda-sorta including Eric Garner's).

What To Think Of This?
The Omnivore has been following the events with some degree of attention--but does not have a categorical breakdown of everything DeBlasio has said (and, notably, when Giuliani called on him to apologize for 'his remarks,' there was no specific statement listed) but he certainly hasn't been singing "Kill the police."

No, what he's done is stuff like:
  1. Heavily criticize the Stop-And-Frisk policy the NYPD had during his campaign (notably, calling out its racial disparities).
  2. Had Al Sharpton at a NYC dinner seated across from the Police Commissioner (and Al said Al-ish things, apparently).
  3. He has talked of telling his (mixed) son to exercise caution in dealing with the police--lest he be shot.
  4. He has met with protesters (about Garner) and, apparently, sympathized with them to some degree.
Which of these, exactly, would he apologize for? Maybe the seating-chart with Sharpton? Inviting Sharpton at all? While The Omnivore lacks a totally firm opinion on the Stop-'N-Frisk strategy (and it's not for lack of reading up on it--it's because it may well have made NYC a safer place and The Omnivore isn't clear on how to judge that), it seems unlikely that an apology for anything but Sharpton would be not just insincere--but verging on illogical.

The NYPD cannot be be above criticism and if having serious doubts about the inherent justice of the Garner Grand-Jury decision is beyond the pale then massive blocs of the country--on the left and right--are enemies of "The State."

That simply, plainly, does not pass the sniff test.

On the other hand, should the mayor be the guy doing this?

Giuliani said that cops have to respect the office of the Mayor and he's probably right about that. Just the same way that US Servicemen are free to hate the POTUS in their hearts--but can get in for-real judicial trouble for opening their yap about it--the police are involved in a multitude of daily life-and-death situations. Escalating with a disrespect for the office of authority is likely a pretty darn bad move for them.

But it goes the other way too. Disrespecting your troops--who are out there in your trenches--is a bad move for any commander, including a civilian one. It's all playing to your base until someone shoots two of your cops in the back of the head.

The Omnivore doesn't have a deputized dog in the actual fight but wants to note a few things here:
  1. While The Omnivore is no expert, liberals who are upset at the show of disrespect on the part of the police should note that conservatives are the group with little love for public-service unions. This kind of coordinated effort can happen without union-organization, sure--but we'd probably not see this kind of all-together-now without it (and without them being sure there wouldn't be repercussions).
  2. Usually political smack-talk of any stripe has zero in the way of actual blow-back. Sure, Obama can't actually trash-talk the army--but he can play musical chairs with his generals or whatever and everyone will just suck it up. He can meet with Castro and his armed force doesn't get to hit back. The Governor can smack-talk the Ferguson PD and ... no impact. The politics usually don't align. In this case, though, they did.
  3. Those of a libertarian stripe have been talking up police brutality as the "downside" of a powerful state. This puts that into question: the mayor is the powerful state. The judiciary (what a grand jury is) is generally a limit on a powerful state (today's savvy dictators allow themselves to be somewhat constrained by a judiciary in order to better wield their power in an international community with international market forces). In this case the head-of-local-state does, philosophically, seem to be at-odds with the PD. It's not really clear who'll win ... if anyone.
Final Thoughts
The absolute nightmare, thinks The Omnivore, is a case where you are being hunted. The Omnivore questions whether either black men or cops are actually hunted in the sense that the two assassinated police were--at least on a daily basis. Yes: lethal ambush-style attacks happen sometimes--but not, usually, in the literal way they happened here. Tamir Rice may have been shot without (much) warning--but at least he likely saw his attacker. In the cases of Brown and Garner, despite (some) rhetoric, it is not "hunting season" on black men (and, indeed, the cite is that black lives don't matter--not that black men are being gunned down and shot sniper / ambush style).

However, this nightmare scenario does have analogies to the "Polar Bear" game publicized and, to a very, very large sense, created whole-cloth by the conservative media. It also has notes and harmonies of terrorism where a populace feels it may be hunted sneak-attack style at any moment. The psychological aspect of these events should not be underrated: The Omnivore has never felt visceral fear of terrorists--just anger: He does not live in a target zone. He can, at least mostly, console himself with The Odds.

However if the powers that be, whether police unions, agitators, or single, horrible, assholes with guns, can sell us on a sense of being hunted?

Then everything really does, for real, fall apart.

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