My grandfather fought in WWI, my father fought in WWII. When my generation’s war came along (Vietnam), things happened that would rarely if EVER have happened to my grandfather or father. Soldiers were spit on, called baby killers, and worse. In ROTC, one cadet that had his heart set on becoming a pilot, had a large chunk of concrete planted in his forehead as the “protesters” rushed down the stairs into the ROTC offices in the basement of the building where they were housed. Red paint was thrown on uniforms on Tuesdays during drill ceremonies, as the ugliest of taunts were thrown at us. Meanwhile, my friend did recover from the brain injury, but of course could never be allowed to fly because of it. Having some reasonably good photography skills and fairly decent equipment at the time, I ended up taking evidence photos with a telephoto lens I owned, and was later called into federal court to testify against some of the worst of the “protesters” (the ones that caused physical damage to both property and persons). I was terrified after being required by the judge to give not only my name, but my home address in open court. One might hopefully forgive me for having had a less-than-positive view of society back in the late 60s and early 1970.
Was everyone that way? Of course not. But the tide had shifted, and those that signed up to serve our nation, as we saw it, were no longer almost universally looked at with admiration and appreciation. It’s a bit hard to maintain a rosy, positive attitude when you’re the recipient of unwarranted attacks (and any attack on the mass because of the actions of a few is unwarranted). So what did we do on Tuesdays? We began incorporating our own taunts back at the protesters as we marched – in the form of cadence calls: “We’re gonna RAPE — KILL — BURN — and PLUNDER, gonna RAPE — KILL — BURN — and PLUNDER, ….
Like the military, police work has never been a high money-maker. (Don’t ANYbody throw in some comment about cops on the take! You know that’s not the point.) And if Whirlibird’s 800,000 figure is accurate, that’s even well below the 1-2% of Americans that go into the military. So no, I don’t think that Whirlibird is using any broader of a brush than is being used by far too many in society against law enforcement. A prominent sub-group of blacks are murdering, drug-dealing thugs, threatening to wipe out whites – so all blacks are bad. A few Iranian leaders vocally voice death to America and Israel, so all Iranians are our enemies and worthy of being turned into a sea of glass by one of our own nukes. And like the rest of society from which police are recruited, a percentage of them do bad things that would have been almost unheard of 50 years ago, so all cops are bad and to be untrusted and even assassinated. Of course, we used to be able to leave our doors unlocked when we weren’t home when many of us were kids, so all of society is now bad too. People who only see others painting with broad brushes, like those that live in glass houses, need to remember that things work both ways – and are sometimes understandable.
I also appreciate his “inside” view of entire shifts stepping up to the plate to help fellow officers that were out of leave time and money, for example. A community can hold a candlelight vigil, and that’s good and heart felt. But then everybody goes home, and everybody feels better for having “done” something – while the widow(er) and kids go back home to a very lonely house with memories of someone that won’t be coming back through the door ever again, perhaps with the memory of the videos taken of their loved one’s murder with no one coming into that same video to help stop it. Broad brush? Maybe not, when this cr@p was almost unheard of 50 years ago. Back then, the perps would have been dead BEFORE the backup units got there – thanks to the people back then that refused to be just bystanders, let alone cheerleaders for the perps. Now days, I would be entirely unsurprised if the three young men that stopped the massacre on the French train end up being sued by the jihadi for his injuries, since they proudly admitted to having inflicted plenty of physical damage on him. The world needs many more of them – and they’re no longer plentiful.
As I said in another post, my initial trust level today is lower than it was 20 years ago with police. Do I expect something to go bad? No, and generally it’s still a positive (and welcome) experience. But I’m much more on the lookout for it – because I know that the society from which they’re coming has also gone down hill, and I’m more cautious in society as well. I also know that an increasing number of cops are also combat vets – and I’ve dealt with those folks very up close and very personally in a professional capacity, and it concerns me. I KNOW some that went into law enforcement, and I cringe. So yes, there are factors today that simply didn’t exist 20-30 years ago – both with police and with society in general. Back then I never considered concealed carry, nor did my wife. Now the credit card advertising phrase, “Don’t leave home without it,” is a general rule without even much conscious thought anymore. Call that a broad brush too, perhaps…. When one is constantly being slapped with one, a master artist’s fine-tipped brush doesn’t seem like much of a defense.
As a final comment, I have a great deal of gratitude for those, like Whirlibird, that have stepped up and served. A good friend of mine (a now-retired high ranking enlisted Ranger) finally was convinced to go through a program called Save a Warrior out in Malibu, CA. It quite possibly saved both his family and his life. With 22 veteran suicides every day, that program has not lost a single “graduate” in its several years of operation. It’s frankly a miracle program, doing things in five days that psychologists and psychiatrists haven’t been able to do for combat vets with years of therapy and medications. There’s no charge to the vets for the program, either. But guess who else they allow into the program: first responders like police and firemen. Why? Because they understand what those guys (and women) also go through, that most have no clue about.