No Longer Business as Usual

I agree with Charles Blow. You don’t get a pat on the back for moving from rabid to less rabid. Let’s “MitchMcConnell” this administration. Let’s protest. But let’s do a better job of talking with the police before and after.

As the son of a cop, I do remember late evenings in our house as a child. My bedroom was next to the kitchen and shared a wall. We had grandfather clocks all over the house, so when I couldn’t sleep, by the chimes on the hour, I would know what time it was. And in those wee hours of the night when there was only one chime, or two chimes on the hour, I could hear my mother up in the kitchen. And invariably in the morning, when I rustled around for breakfast, I would find in the sink a glass — coated by buttermilk. It settled my mother’s stomach as she performed her nightly ritual of waiting for my father to come home from the streets of Oakland. And when he did come home, I would hear the heavy boots on our hardwood floor, the squeaks and jingles of his belt, and feel the rough wool of his uniform when he gave me a kiss in the early hours before dusk. It is only a personal anecdote, but hopefully it does make it personal. Police officers are people.

And for another uniformed group, veterans are on the front lines, globally. They represent us, they serve us, they suffer. As 2017 evolves they may be asked to act. How they will react to a potentially unconstitutional order is hopefully open to question. I believe in their honor.

So, as progressives attempt to chart a course forward in the arena of ideas and on the streets of action, I would hope that there is a moment of reflection, and a consideration of no longer business as usual. In the past, a liberal cause might focus its energy on the plebeian, uniformed enforcer of a policy inconsistent with our values. Too simple, too obvious and not effective. A uniformed person, is still a person. And might be an ally.

The recent Standing Rock effort was brilliant in its solicitation of veterans to join the effort. I know that in my small community there were veterans that wanted to help the cause, sending materials and protective material. If in talking to a person, or in seeing a uniform, you are inclined to judge their values too quickly, I think you and we miss an opportunity.

And if in the course of a protest, it is a Us vs. Them scenario, it will be business as usual. Now is not the time for business as usual. Too much as at risk, and the potential for too much pain is real. See beyond the uniform.