The police and us

Now is not the time to be a good German.By Angelo Codevilla

October 23, 2020

Turkeys cheering the arrival of Thanksgiving would be only marginally more pathetic than the conservative luminaries on Fox News who cheer for the police as civilization’s saviors. The police. You know—the heroes who stood aside as mobs looted and burned Minneapolis, Portland, Kenosha, Chicago, Macy’s in New York, downtown Chicago and so on while organized mask-wearing Antifa thugs beat whoever got in the way? Yes, the police we watched tase a woman for not wearing a mask in a stadium and arresting people for singing Christian hymns in a park. The police, who don’t answer calls from people who are being threatened in their homes. Those police.

Ah! the conservative luminaries tell us: the cops really would rather protect us. They don’t want to hurt us. Yes, the police fine us and jail us on behalf of politicians who hate us. Yes, effectively, they are protecting the mobs. But that’s only because they are duty bound to obey the duly constituted authorities who also pay them. They’re just doing their jobs even if they don’t like what they are doing. What should they do, disobey orders and get fired? So, let’s give them more money and more power.

The more we think about that, the more we realize that this attitude corrupts citizens as well as police. Let us reflect.

On November 10, 1938 my late friend Lewis Gann (1924-1997) answered the doorbell at his home in Maniz, Germany. The kindly policeman had come pursuant to the Reich Chancellor’s order to collect the medals that Jews, like his father, had been awarded for their service in World War I. That day, Gann’s father was on a business trip to London. The previous night, since remembered as Kristallnacht, when regime-inspired mobs had first ransacked Jewish businesses, was the beginning of the end of safety for Germany’s Jews. Lewis recalled how his mother and the policeman vied to show respect for one another, and to reassure the other that they were both doing their civic duty by obeying duly constituted authority. 

After the policeman left, a telegram arrived from his father: “Leave everything. Come here now.” They did.

What happened beginning around three years later in Maniz and throughout the Reich? That policeman and others like him did their duty as they helped people like Mrs. Gann and Lewis’ friends do their duty by climbing into the cattle cars taking them to the camps. No hard feelings among good Germans.

Repression on the Rise

Who will protect us when those who are supposed to protect us are under mounting pressure to punish us or to stand aside as others do the punishing, or to prevent us from protecting ourselves from them, or even join them in hurting us? Do we do anybody any good by closing our eyes to the realities of policing in our corrupt regime? For us Americans, now, these are practical questions.

Begin by dismissing the idea that serious repression, criminalization of people for their religious and social identity, or for political opposition, can’t happen in America. It ishappening. And it is sure to get a lot worse because the people in charge of the permanent government, the media, and corporate entities, increasingly are united in making it happen. More so than just about anywhere, ever.

And that includes Germany in the 1930s. 

Germany’s deep state, the bureaucracy, the police, the armed forces, the school teachers, the corporate executives, were mostly the very model of meritocrats. Not ideologues, much less Nazis. Nor did they define themselves by contempt for or the desire to punish ordinary Germans. 

The Nazis were a gang of violent ideologues who took advantage of society’s weaknesses to dominate those who actually made the country run. But the Nazis always had to watch their backs lest these people, Germany’s aristocrats, oligarchs, etc. overthrow them. They came close. Yet the farther one went into Germany’s deep state, the likelier one was to find guarded remnants of decency.

Not so in America. Here, the ever-more oppressive rulers, the one percent at the top, the very ones who control the levers of power, are the source of the hate. 

In unison, they urge their retinues to hurt us. Unlike the Nazis, these unimpressive people conquered nothing. They were co-opted onto society’s commanding heights by somewhat less unworthy predecessors in a chain of negative selection. Though they claim to be morally and intellectually meritorious, they are the very model of oligarchs who rule for their own enrichment and for the pleasures of primacy. 

Over the decades, having sought rationales for their privileges and found none in their own performance, they settled on indicting the American people and our civilization as the root of all evil—and hence on imagining themselves the only source of judgment about what exclusions and penalties we merit. Being wholly self-regarding, their minds and hearts have no no limiting principles any more than did those of the Nazis.

We have already experienced that, unlike even in Nazi Germany—and much like in the Soviet Union, China, etc.—the farther up the ordinary citizen looks in the hierarchy of the American ruling class, the more likely one is to find all manner of corruption and enmity. Dangerous to our health and liberties as the police and judicial system of California may be, the FBI and the Department of Justice are worse.

Some Hard Realities

What then shall we do with and about the police? Reality imposes certain principles.

First, trust them only insofar as you pay them, can hire and fire, or frighten them. Otherwise, realize that they will serve whomever pays them. 

The justice system in Al Capone’s day served the Mob even though the cops and judges of the day were churchgoers and had been exposed to at least some moral scruples. Today’s justice system consists of people who know only sticks and carrots.

Second, take a lesson from those videos of the police standing aside. They didn’t protect the mobs simply because they were so ordered. They did it also because they were physically frightened by the mob’s use of a variety of weapons against them, as well as by the prospect of lawsuits and attacks on them and their families. 

In Louisville, a man who shot two cops in the back was charged only with reckless endangerment. Alas, the Left has shown that hurting cops tends to make them your friends. Hence, if you want respect from police who you do not control, make sure you give them lively reasons to fear you.

Third, police yourselves. Call it self-defense groups, neighborhood protection, vigilantes, friends, anything but “militias.” But the essence is the same: rely on yourself and on people who have known each other for a long time—no infiltrators, please—united and armed to take care of themselves as they think best.

Fourth and most important: strictly police your own attitude. 

You are living in territory controlled by enemy tribes. You, and all like you, must assume the innocence of anyone remotely like yourself who is charged in any confrontation with those tribes and with their authorities—until proven otherwise beyond a shadow of your doubt. Take his side. In other words, you must shield others like yourself by practicing and urging “jury nullification.” 

And, by the way, when the police—a fortiori the FBI—come to talk, you don’t know or remember anything—except that they answer to your enemies. Don’t be a good German.Share on

About Angelo Codevilla

Angelo M. Codevilla is a senior fellow of the Claremont Institute, professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University and the author of To Make And Keep Peace (Hoover Institution Press, 2014).

The Police and Us

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