In the Vietnam War era, thousands of American servicemen returned home only to be insulted or threatened by anti-war protesters. Since then, Americans — even liberal Democrats — have rightly concluded that it is wrong to abuse servicemen and veterans, and by and large these patriots are now treated with respect. It's high time.
Unfortunately, however, there is another category of American heroes who are not receiving the appreciation and cooperation that they deserve. These men and women serve our communities directly. They secure us from crime and criminals, and they uphold the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law. They daily put their lives at risk, in fact, to keep us safe.
They are the police, and it is becoming increasingly clear that, while leftists and Democrats view those who serve in the military as off limits, it is open season on American law enforcement.
This contradiction can be explained in part by the fact that attitudes towards the police among Democrats are abysmal. According to a Quinnipiac poll, 77% of Democrats believe that the police are “tougher on blacks” than they are on whites, and fewer than half approve of “the way the police...are doing their job.” Without doubt, it is the work of professional provocateurs and con men like Al Sharpton that is partly responsible for the bad blood between Democrats and the law enforcement community.
Every day our police, our corrections officers, and other law enforcement professionals are subjected to scandalous levels of disrespect from the public. The recent dousing of NYPD officers with water was a glaring but not atypical example. In fact, assaults against the police have risen alarmingly in recent years.
The police are also subjected to scurrilous attacks from politicians and the media. The press fixates on police shootings and allegations of brutality, creating the misleading impression that the police are out of control. In fact, police shootings are down, and police are better-trained, more accountable, and more restrained in the use of force than ever before.
The police sometimes even have to deal with civil unrest and organized violence from radical groups like Antifa. In Portland, parts of downtown essentially became no-go areas for the public because politicians refused to allow the police to keep order there. Antifa literally ruled the streets.
Under these circumstances, it is high time for the American people to push back and to affirm their support for the police. Law enforcement must know that, even if the left is increasingly abandoning them, the vast majority of Americans are not. Moreover, when the police are attacked, “We the People” will always have their backs.
We must make it clear that, when politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez compare the work of Border Patrol agents to the oppression of Jews by the Nazis, a line has been crossed. AOC is implying that whole categories of American law enforcement are fascistic and thuggish — and it can hardly surprise us when some people, like the recent San Antonio shooter, therefore reach the conclusion that violence against federal agents is justified. Such rhetoric, which has become all too common on the left, should be beyond the pale.
We must make it clear that, when U.S. Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren flatly accuses a policeman of having committed “murder,” because he had the temerity to defend himself against a vicious attacker, she too has crossed a line. She should apologize, or she should withdraw from the race.
We must make it clear that the Democratic Party, which is currently obsessed with the rights and opportunities of the incarcerated and of felons, should not privilege the guilty over their innocent victims. Voting rights should not be given to prisoners, as many Democrats propose. The 12 million illegal immigrants in this country should not be celebrated for their criminality.
Moreover, we must understand that tough laws and aggressive law enforcement techniques have lowered crime levels over the last 30 years, and the American people are not now clamoring to be less safe. The maintenance of law and order will always be a higher priority than making life easier for criminals.
These messages must be communicated loud and clear to our law enforcement professionals, and to those who would tear them down for political gain.
The best way for Americans to communicate their support for the police is not to wait until they are under attack, but to take action NOW.
Consider these approaches:
Organize a march to show your community's support for and pride in local law enforcement. Thank a police officer who you encounter in daily life for his or her service. In your interactions with friends, family, and co-workers, make it plain that you find anti-police bias offensive. Call, write, or email law enforcement agencies to compliment them on everything they are doing right. Display stickers, signs, buttons, and ribbons that demonstrate solidarity with the police. Contribute to police benevolence associations and other groups that support law enforcement.
Most of all, vote for candidates for public office who show police officers the same degree of respect as servicemen and veterans, which is their due. Never reward a candidate who takes cheap shots at the heroes and patriots who comprise the Thin Blue Line.
We can all make a difference in the battle to uphold the rule of law and to defeat crime. One of the best approaches is to become an ally of law enforcement. The police are working hard to keep us safe, but in the end they can only do their jobs effectively when they have our help and support. Let's not be shy in giving it.
Dr. Nicholas L. Waddy is an Associate Professor of History at SUNY Alfred and blogs at: www.waddyisright.com. He appears weekly on the Newsmaker Show on WLEA 1480.