Two news stories this morning: the first is the San Diego cops shooting the Requisite Unarmed Black Guy in the Requisite Parking Lot with the Usual Woman screaming (while filming) that he’s unarmed and not to shoot.
The cops were loaded down with a handgun each, Taser, pepper spray, baton, handcuffs, and knife,yet apparently were in fear for their life. So they shot the guy.
The second story is about Donald Trump scrambling like a cat on a hot tin roof as he both denies that he gave a lousy performance in the first debate with Hillary Clinton, and blames everyone but himself for the lousy performance he apparently didn’t give. Amongst the blam-ees are an ex-beauty pageant queen of twenty years ago and a couple of sound technicians.
I dislike both these stories so much that I realized I was conflating them in my mind, perhaps so that I could more easily digest the facts. And in so doing, I came to an amazing realization. There are similarities between these two nightmares that persist in recurring.
Donald Trump and the cops, the cops and Donald Trump. Consider the following shared attributes:
BOTH ARE RACIST: Both institutions (I now consider Donald an institution, as who does not?) operate under a core racist tenet, while protesting that they do anything but.
BOTH ARE UTTERLY ILL-TRAINED FOR THE JOB THEY HAVE CHOSEN: Trump not only doesn’t know who or what the nuclear triad is but he shows no interest in learning what the actual job of President entails, or what a President can do versus Congress.
It should be pretty obvious to anyone who watches the news that the modern American beat cop is also untrained for their job in some pretty fundamental ways. Their job, in fact, is to keep the peace in the community they serve. That’s it. Unfortunately, anyone who watches the news knows that when our local law enforcement is asked to do anything more threatening than getting a cat out of a tree (or is that firemen?) their response is, simply, to kill.
See a guy with a knife? Someone off their meds? Looking at you the wrong way? Holding what could be a gun, could be a shopping bag? Kill him. It avoids all that hassle of learning conflict resolution, or how to disarm a person who is flipping out, which I thought was part of police training.
A PROPENSITY TO BLAME OTHERS: Trump loves blaming everyone else, never once pointing the finger at himself. His other thing is to whine about people who “were really not nice to me” (in a Presidential campaign, yet) and therefore are going to “get it.”
In many ways, the cops have mastered the same trick. Just as Trump calls up Fox and Friends after he’s made an ass of himself the day before, we always get the Police Chief at the Podium two hours after The Requisite Shooting of the Guy in the Street/Parking Lot. The chief almost always tells us they need the public to work with them and we must comply with how the police want us to behave or this kind of thing is bound to happen again. In other words, it’s our fault.
THEY’RE BOTH WOEFULLY ISOLATED FROM THE REAL WORLD: Just as Trump seems protected from reality by his family, his advisers, and the flunkies that work for him (“Every poll shows I won!”), the cops are equally isolated from reality, baffled as to why certain members of society aren’t grateful for the job they’re doing, seemingly unaware that today’s unjustified killing is coming after yesterday’s unjustified killing, and is only prelude to tomorrow’s and we're seeing it all (often in real time).
BOTH EXHIBIT AN INABILITY TO CHANGE: Trump shows amazing consistency on this score. His thing is to abuse vulnerable people over whom he has power, from the poor “Miss Piggy” beauty queen, to the African-American families that were denied housing in the Trump family rental units, to all the contractors who have been stiffed, to the unlucky suckers who maxed out their credit cards to “attend” Trump University, to the slave girls represented by the Trump modeling agency.
American law enforcement has, I’m sorry to say, a similar history. Images of Baton Rouge cops dragging peaceful protesters out into the street this summer reminded me of Sheriff Jim Clark sending his cops to brutalize civil rights marchers in Selma, Alabama, or the Chicago Police Department – long before Laquan McDonald – clubbing unarmed citizens at the 1968 Democratic convention.
Neither of these institutions deserve the whole-hearted respect or consideration they seek – in the case of the cops, from the citizenry they serve, in the case of Trump, from the citizenry he wishes to serve – until they clean up their act.
For the cops, the first step toward that goal would be admitting there’s a nationwide problem in definition of their job, the training of their entire force, and implementation. For Trump? Perhaps just applying for a different job. Not, however, Commissioner of Police.