According To Some, Any Criticism Of Police Is "Cop Bashing"

AP Photo/Teresa Crawford

The left is desperate. They know the mantra of “defund the police” isn’t working. They know people aren’t responding well. In some places, they’re demanding more police, and these aren’t rural communities that want another cop or two. We’re talking about liberal strongholds like Oakland.

The polling also shows that “defund the police” wasn’t exactly a popular idea and it’s only gotten less popular as the surge in violent crime has increased.

Since that’s become obvious, we’ve seen the White House try to gaslight America into believing that it’s really Republicans who are anti-police. Their allies in the media have helped.

Now, even FAIR, which stands for Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting, has joined in the fun in a post titled, “Right-Wing Cop-Bashing Didn’t Start With Trump.”

The congressional hearings examining the January 6 riot at the Capitol, which were egged on by outgoing President Donald Trump and his false claims that the election had been rigged against him, have often emphasized the perspective of the Capitol Hill Police. The congressional hearings examining the insurrection portrayed the police as both heroic guardians of democracy and the victims of an unprecedented and surprising far-right hostility that escalated into violence (CNN7/27/21).

For the past year and  a half, a large part of the schism between left and right in US politics has been on the question of policing. The Black Lives Matter protests that erupted last year after the killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd affirmed the idea that a radical overhaul of policing was a central platform of the anti-racist left. Solidarity with police, summed up in the phrase “blue lives matter,” has become a rallying call for the right against rising left-wing criticism of police (Boston Globe11/1/20), particularly the movement to “defund police” by transferring resources to agencies that are better suited to meet community needs.

At first glance, then, there seems to be a contradiction when Fox News attacks the Capitol Hill officers as traitors. Fox News host Laura Ingraham mocked Capitol Police testimony (7/27/21), likening their accounts to award-winning acting (Newsweek7/28/21), and her colleague Tucker Carlson (7/21/21) verbally attacked a Capitol Hill police officer who gave a harrowing account of his defense of the building from violent, far-right rioters (CNN7/22/21).

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd (7/31/21) examined Fox News‘ inversions, as well as those of Republicans who have shown solidarity with arrested rioters, writing:

Since when do Republicans care more about criminals in jail than the cops who put them there? Since when do they coddle domestic terrorists? Since Donald Trump.

Citing the Daily Beast (7/30/21), Dowd said that Trump has been leading his party’s efforts to recast what happened on January 6 by “belittling some police heroes.”

Decades of hostility

Deep-state vilification and right-wing media’s hostility toward federal law enforcement agencies began in the early 1990s with the violent engagements at Ruby Ridge, Idaho and Waco, Texas.

Dowd’s diagnosis misses the mark in an all-too-typical way, casting as a novel Trumpian phenomenon something that has long been a factor on the US right. In fact, the right wing, and the Republicans who serve as their electoral vehicle, have shown hostility toward federal law enforcement agencies for decades, especially since a 1992 stand-off between fugitive white nationalist Randy Weaver and federal officers (FBI, Marshals and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, resulted in the death of one federal agent and Weaver’s wife and 14-year-old son (Guardian, 8/26/17).

During congressional hearings about the standoff, the Chicago Tribune (9/14/95) noted that the public witnessed “the novel sight of Republican lawmakers railing against the mistreatment of a convicted felon by overzealous police.”

Wow.

What the author fails to note is that the animosity expressed in all of these incidents is about the incidents themselves, not law enforcement in general. Yes, we’re still upset about Ruby Ridge and Waco. These were cases of supreme government overreach.

Criticism of the Capitol Police is about how these officers acted like they were in a war zone when we also have video of some of their fellow officers chatting amiably with the protestors. The two images don’t really mesh well in a lot of people’s minds, especially since those chatting officers weren’t brought in to testify.

So yeah, people took issue with it.

For FAIR to try to categorize this as “cop bashing” is a stretch. Especially after a summer in which Democrats routinely painted all law enforcement with the same broad brushes of racism and intolerance. Even now, some are demanding law enforcement be defunded.

How is that not “cop bashing?” How is that not somehow worse than criticizing the actions of particular officers or agencies in a given situation where innocent people died?

That’s what’s missing from FAIR’s mention of Ruby Ridge and Waco, that people weren’t upset that bad people may have gotten hurt, but that innocent people freaking died.

For an organization that calls itself Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting, there’s little fairness or accuracy behind the narrative they’re trying to shape.

Oct 18, 2021 4:30 PM ET