"ALL cops, you say? Even my uncle?!"
What am I supposed to do with this discomfort? EXAMINE it??
Okay, look. I get why you’re mad. Cops are “targeting black people” and “using excessive force” according to “dozens of horrifying videos” and “firsthand testimony of black Americans” for “decades.” Obviously some of those videos are bad, and OBVIOUSLY I’m not racist. I posted one of those black squares. Black lives matter! Even Mitt Romney said so.
But here’s the thing: these protesters are saying things like “abolish the police” and “all cops are bastards.” All cops?? That’s going a little far, don’t you think? What if I told you that my uncle is a cop? That changes your perspective, I bet!
I love my uncle. And I bet you’d change your tune about cops if you’d been at some of our family reunions and holiday gatherings — he’s the life of the party! When I think about my uncle, I picture him cracking everyone up every Thanksgiving. So the idea that he’s complicit in a system that protects violent abusers and preys on the most vulnerable in our society… that makes me feel bad.
Anyway, this anti-police rhetoric is going too far. ALL cops are bastards? I’d like you to look me in the eye and describe Jake Peralta as a “bastard.” I’d like to see you try! And what about the ones who go undercover as teens over on Jump Street, or Bella Swan’s dad? I want you to picture a sheriff who protects his friends and loves a little boy named Andy. I suppose you’d say that he deserves a snake in his boot!
Do you realize how hard it is to be a police officer? It’s probably the most dangerous job in America. Cops die on the job all the time at the hands of dangerous criminals! If you looked up the statistics, I bet you’d be shocked.
Hmmm, okay. I did look it up and I’m seeing that police work is not in the top 10 most dangerous jobs in America, and cops are more likely to die by suicide than any other cause. I am… also seeing that one-third of Americans killed by strangers are killed by cops. I was assuming that was just because it’s a dangerous profession so that kind of civilian death rate is just a fact of life, but apparently that’s not the case everywhere, just here.
Well, fine! So maybe there are some problems with policing in this country! But you can’t say “all cops are bastards” when my uncle, a cop, is a good guy. That’s a logical fallacy. My uncle isn’t one of the 40% of cops who beat their wives or one of those cops who are secretly Neo-Nazis or in the KKK. He doesn’t post super violent or racist stuff on Facebook, definitely not anything like what other cops post. There’s not a racist bone in my uncle’s body. (Except maybe his funny bone. He tells some dicey jokes sometimes, but that’s just his sense of humor!)
I’ve always thought about my uncle as nice, and now all this is making me consider that maybe he’s done things that aren’t nice. Or that he’s part of a system that is bad? And that makes him bad? It’s pretty complicated and to be honest, it makes me uncomfortable! Are you telling me my family members — who, I will remind you again, I like — have flaws? My uncle is my dad’s brother. My mom and dad love him very much. Am I supposed to disagree with my parents? They’re grown-ups. They know everything. I don’t like these thoughts at all. I’m in my mid 20s. I pay taxes and vote.
I don’t like to keep up with the news or pay attention to politics because it’s confusing and it doesn’t really affect me anyway. But now all of this is getting out of hand, because it is affecting me. If I start siding with these anti-cop people and my family finds out, we’ll have to have a hard conversation. It will make things awkward at family events going forward. In general, we don’t like to talk politics — that way, everything stays nice and fun!
I’m ready for all of this to blow over and everything to go back to normal. My uncle can go back to doing his job without anyone yelling at him, and I can go back to only thinking about some cops being bad a couple times a year when one of them kills an innocent person in a way that’s particularly bad and caught on tape. “Black lives matter,” “blue lives matter,” everyone is making some points but nobody’s perfect. Some of those protesters are saying really mean things and even damaging property. There’s no clear answers here. At the end of the day, I know my uncle is a good person, and I know I’m a good person, and I don’t want to continue this conversation if it’s going to make me reconsider what I mean by that.
Please take some time this week to get involved. Last week’s Friendmendations had a roundup of ways to help right now, and this week’s has information about abolishing the police. I wrote about some different experiences protesting here. All cops — and I cannot stress this enough — are bastards.