1984 Is The New Today
In history, there have always been various sorts of extremism. Mostly, those were views captured by a minority of people and often carried a negative connotation. Extremism has somehow transformed to a normalized way of handling social issues.
As were many of us, I was forced to read George Orwell’s 1984 in high school. However, I read it right before the year 1984 although it was written 40 years prior. And so, it was like the movie 2012 was to the next generation or the big Y2K scare, perhaps.
Back then, Orwell’s scenes were hard to fathom and frightened me as an adolescent. Imagining this was authored in 1944 gave me the impression that WWII was circling the story. It was deep, dark, and very hard to muster, but I finished it because I was a good student. It was intriguing, disturbing, and left me in disbelief. Who would know that book would stick with me for the rest of my life?
Mrs. Cundiff probably did what any good English teacher should and made assignments based upon the times. I loved to read but at that age I did not really understand the magnitude of books. Mrs. Cundiff followed it up at some point with Animal Farm and Steinbeck’s The Red Pony. Reading became my pastime.
Orwell’s 1984 book has climbed back to popularity once again. Perhaps it’s soaring sales might set it up to be on a textbook reference list of dystopia theory. Orwell took us through totalitarian rule where any free thought and critical thinking was suppressed and met with regulation in full force by the Thought Police. Sound familiar?
What did Orwell show us? It made Oceania seem really scary and set up a dreadful scenario. Why is it resonating again today? It is a classic. However, some people associate it with today’s U.S. federal governance while others link it to extreme social dysfunction and mob mentality.
Who is right? It depends on what side of the fence you sit. Put into play some partisan politics and it really gets interesting. At one time I remember when most people were not so far apart on common sense and political platforms even if they registered as different voting parties.
Skew and Extremism Is The New World Order
Even with the times of the Clinton presidency, we saw American elitism take a front seat in our politics, corporate businesses, and schools. Additionally, over time we saw the extinction of the middle class. Social decay and disorganization have progressed. These factors all contribute to problems which filter into police issues.
Somewhere in the mix, extremism resonated with more than just hate groups and domestic terrorists. Regular people seemed to embrace the methodology to get their points across. The extremist thinking has been on the upward mobility track in the last few years. Experts link it to the last two presidential elections: Obama and Trump.
How has this changed policing? By measures in mountains.
I’ve heard citizens call police extremists. Well, if that is the case, I am on board. I am on board with rule of law, order, civility, and quality of life. It that makes me an extremist, then so be it. But I do not believe that is really what they mean when they call the police names or label them as extremists. The word has usually carried a negative vibe. And generally, I feel that extremism is not a positive factor in conversation.
Back in the day (police stone age or earlier) we trained for “what if”, not necessarily “when”. The “when” was always on the forefront of our minds and kept fresh with vigilance and training. We still treated all those disasters as “what ifs”.
Now it is a matter of when it is going to happen, not if. Police today face a different aggression on the street which is not reflective in statistics nor line of duty deaths. Ask a cop what the feeling is on the street. He or she might tell you it depends upon the day, but it is different than 10 years ago.
Any law enforcement officer is highly likely to face extremism and those who will force their hand one way or another. No respect for civility nor human life. Some of these adversaries might even be law abiding citizens.
We have all failed to reverse all the decay in the last 10 years or more. The police cannot contain the social disorder. The public does not do it. In fact, most people cannot talk to their neighbor. Their first response is to call the cops to mitigate. Sad.
Thus, the danger rises with every day we leave it unattended.
The Misinterpretation of Policing
The public will never truly understand the policies and procedures of policing. Nor will there be a unanimous sympathizing with the job. Citizen academies sometimes bridge the gaps, but those are willing participants and often hand selected.
How do you assuage the ones to reconsider their negative feelings and distrust toward police? What about those who scoff at cops because of lack of knowledge or fall to mob mentality?
Understanding the psyche of a crowd is becoming an important thing to police. We may come up with a general statement that groups are usually nonmalignant. Something transports their often benign attempts and organization into something else.
Some people branch off the crowd mentality and act upon their own volition. But even our friends and family might chime in on the discord. One media flash envelopes us all.
The public does not desire to know proper law enforcement procedures. There is anger. There is ignorance. Cops are called names including the vilest: racists. People decry police are brutal even when they just raise their voices against a disorderly crowd.
How can they possibly win?
The Great Divide
Facing ambushes and random attacks stacks the cards enough against law enforcement. However, the police expect danger. They train for it.
What blindsides them is the people they protect. They face public scrutiny at every turn and national coverage of any contact captured on video which can be displayed in 6 second blips omitting the entire scene. I find it ironic the media jumps to play it or pass it around, but do they ask questions or watch the entire event?
For what? To rile up emotion? To coax de-policing measures?
Do citizens really hate law enforcement that much? On the contrary, citizens still have a high degree of trust for law enforcement. But is it on the decline? Is it enough to wage support of law and order processes?
Civility is sparse. The truth is lost somewhere between fame and fortune. Officers’ narratives get lost or are never retrieved for public consideration. What stands out is a mass damnation whether it is founded on partial blips or fiction.
We toss aside the notion to talk it out, investigate, and search for the truth. Instead, our society resorts to burning someone down with verbal and physical attacks. You are categorized as them or those.
Even if an officer conducted him- or herself in a lawful and just manner, politicians and administrators are caving to the masses. Before you know it, termination strikes, and that officer becomes unemployable. It could be a social post, a comment, a yard ornament, or some action which was viewed as disagreeable to your community.
No one is going to argue that officers are supposed to be above reproach. Honor and integrity. It’s in the brand.
To err is human. Police are not perfect, we can all understand mistakes. Nor, are the police the public enemy.
The human factor is taken out of every law enforcement action. There are days it appears we operate under the utopia of Judge Dredd parameters. If it isn’t “textbook”, it isn’t good. Never mind society keeps rewriting the textbook.
Deconstructing the police are continued efforts in politics.
Why are people embracing disorder, constant microaggressions, and upheaval of a peaceful quality of life? They want change. But do they foresee the police reduced to unarmed security guards? I really do not know what some of these politicians and the public want from law enforcement except to make them Gumbies. Remember Gumby? He was the toy guy who would bend to your manipulation.
Citizens still pounce on stripping law enforcement of their resources and arrest powers. Devastating events are unfolding each week with active shooters, terrorism, and tragedies. Yet, there are more and more rallies to cripple police departments. It makes zero sense to me.
Our societal paralysis seems to define us.
Maybe the public did not see the deconstructing effects coming from political efforts. Several politicians have even been proposing to unarm the police. That’s a solid idea, said no one ever.
Police budgets get constrained. Law enforcement are expected to do more with less. They are required to work longer to overcome staffing shortages. These have snowball effects on an organization and community.
Staffing is not the only shortage. Military surplus was a positive avenue of equipment resources. There are mixed feelings on the use of those in local departments and a huge disparity in public support of the idea.
Chiefs hands get tied up in the politics of city government and pressure. They become a talking head rather than a police administrator. If something goes wrong in their department, they become expendable. Are they a voodoo doll in the hands of their officers or a puppet for city officials?
It seems that their balls are often hiding. I get it. They need to feed their families, pay their mortgages, and send their kids off to a good college.
Their officers work for the greater good. The chiefs should work with same ideology as well and lead with gumption and good ideas.
These factors trickle down to the troops in one form or another. Politics might be the biggest issue to cause morale deficits in police organizations.
When the Psychological Bell Tolls
The “Ferguson Effect” was just a catalyst for law enforcement confidence and the era of second guessing themselves.
De-policing continues to be a problem with some officers. Psychological breakdowns and second guessing are evident in scenes where officers fail to respond appropriately or at all. Applicant lines do not form in front of police stations when they roll out the recruitment ads. Officer staffing levels are dangerous.
Despite the brunt of public distrust, police still run to gunfire. They still work for the greater good. As society takes a dysfunctional plunge, police follow the havoc as usual despite the setbacks, violence, and lack of trust. Even walking a mile in their black boots is not going to give anyone a grasp of the profession, the police life, or the social stress.
Police are your front-line barrier between you and evil. When you degrade police forces, you throw away public safety. Our country seems to do really bad at policing ourselves anymore, so then the government must do it for us.
But are the police expected to enforce with just a stern look and a uniform? Let’s be real.
Equipment, technology, bigger shields, armored patrol cars, body cams, and more devices have been added to the law enforcement repertoire of necessities. Isn’t the militarization of police directly related to civil disobedience? I think so. The public dictates the change of times. Still, despite the rise in aggression, these tools are condemned by the public.
When will we say enough is enough? When will we stop reading about police officers getting killed every week, observe protests becoming peaceful again, and rebuke evil as a unified front?
If you aren’t one of the extremists, then who are you? Why do you stay silent? When things go bad, the only ones at the end of 911 are the police. Deconstructing forces and causing de-policing attitudes will be the death of civil order and quality of life.
We all must do better.
What happened with bringing our best to the world? Maybe we need to pick up A Wrinkle in Time and reread our Harry Potter books. Find a morale of a story which resonates with you. Inspire yourself, motivate others.
Put down Orwell’s 1984. Or read it for entertainment or scholarly value. It is not a policy guide