Tracker Pixel for Entry

Corporate worship and compromising the police profession

by Charlie Barber | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Last Word | November 2nd, 2016

“For the soldier’s (or policeman’s) trade,…is not slaying, but being slain. This…the world honors it for. A bravo’s (or hired gun’s) trade is slaying; but the world has never respected bravos (or hired guns)…the reason (the world) honors the soldier (or policeman) is, because he holds his life at the service of the State.”

–John Ruskin

“This is not about the pipeline…This is not about the protesters. This is about the rule of law.”

--Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier

“To sense the (Standing Rock Lakota) people’s outrage, imagine reaction to a corporation running a pipeline through Arlington National Cemetery.”- Jim Hightower

John Ruskin neglected to mention the policeman’s trade in the same breath as the soldier’s trade he honored, and that is a shame. England in the 19th Century didn’t need as many cops (“Bobbies,” as they are called after their sponsor, Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel) as the U.S. Yet a policeman’s honor is similar to that of the soldier’s and that honor has often been compromised by politicians who place his or her profession at the service of malefactors of great wealth and their propertied pretensions, rather than the average citizens they are sworn “to serve and protect.”

England needs rather more cops nowadays, and they are necessarily armed. Even though the English don’t support as many armed citizens as the wild and wooly place that Americans, and our 2nd Amendment freedoms, call home, proliferation of guns by gun corporations and their cowardly cheerleaders who head the National Rifle Association(NRA), has dramatically encouraged itchy trigger fingers around the world.

I am told that NRA President Wayne LaPierre and his crowd don’t allow guns at their meetings. Yet they tout the bearing of arms at venues around the U.S., including schools and churches. This signifies the intellectual rot that MSNBC conservative commentator Steve Schmidt sees at the head of the Republican Party, but also the moral rot that characterizes the GOP’s worship of corporations without a conscience.

While citizens are sometimes targets of the obscene weaponry the NRA loves so much, either from nut jobs who get their hands on automatic weapons, or when cops f**k up, cops are targets on a daily basis. That is their burden, but also the source of the honor that so many bear with resignation, and occasional good humor.

Policemen and policewomen know very well that the color of prejudice can apply to a person’s uniform as well as their skin. This can sometimes lead to sympathy with those in the medical and teaching professions who also find themselves abused by an insensitive public. As a Professor at a teacher training University [Northeastern Illinois] from 1967-2000, it was my privilege to know a number of Chicago cops, some of whom were my most insightful students. One of them [I’ll call him “Dan”], once said to me over some liquid refreshment: “Charlie, the only people I cut any slack for, are teachers and nurses; because you take as much shit as we do.”

Since the only police friends I knew at the time were in singing groups, and did not discuss their trade with me, anymore than I did mine with them, I asked “Dan” which TV cop show best represented the trials of his profession. I thought that it might be a crime drama like NYPD [1967-1969] or NYPD Blue [1993-2005]. Dan’s response was: “No way. It’s “Barney Miller,” a situation comedy from 1975-1982.

Imagine that! Policemen and policewomen as no different than the rest of us; except, of course, when they are engaged in enforcing laws they had little to do with shaping. It is this fact of professional life that unites the dilemmas of any law enforcement officers in a big city with those who serve in rural settings like Morton County, North Dakota.

The “standoff at Standing Rock,” as brought to us by TV, Facebook, Twitter and newspapers, would have us believe that we have a problem of some sort.

Of course we have trouble here in “Missouri River City,” but, as General Michael Hayden has asked, what is the story?

Republican Governor Jack Dalrymple, and fellow cowards on the North Dakota Industrial Commission, Republican Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, and Republican Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, would have us believe it is a “State of Emergency,” whatever the hell that is. But Governor Dalrymple dares not add the part of the story that relates to how he never met a fat cat foreign oil corporation he didn’t want to cater to, regardless of what damage they might wreak on homelands of North Dakota citizens, regardless of their ethnicity.

What about the part of the story that points out that there are some two dozen pipelines already pumping away underneath the Missouri River, all of them subject to leakage, as an official of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers confessed to HPR’s C.S. Hagen?

What about the nature of the petroleum that would be pumped through the Dakota Access Pipeline, wherever it might be routed? Will it be 100% Bakken Sweet Crude, which is, along with Natural Gas, the fossil fuel of choice for those who believe we can tolerate any burning of fossil fuels as the Greenland Ice Cap begins to melt from Greenhouse gasses? Or will sweet crude be mixed with tar sands, as 17% of what makes its way south and east already does, making a bad climate situation worse?

Also, when corporations abuse the power of “eminent domain” for their profit, why are they not held to account by State and Federal regulators? Why are these burning issues left to be decided by our courts, which must proceed deliberately, while law enforcement officers must deal with folks who know in their hearts that they have been betrayed by the legislative and executive branches in this country?

The answers my friends, are not blowin’ in the wind, but are found in Biblical passages which deal with “golden calf” worship and other idolatries ignoring the spiritual, as well as in John Ruskin’s lengthy discussion of what constitutes honor, and what does not.

The Republican Party of 2016, and their “Whiner-in-Chief,” Presidential nominee Donald Trump, are in trouble nationwide, but may not suffer as much as they deserve to, at least not in North Dakota.

Sheriff Kirchmeier has erred tactically with his “proactive” approach to demonstrators in a remote section of the State, but his Republican bosses at the State Capitol have been strategically stupid. They waste millions of taxpayer dollars on militarized law enforcement over an issue that drags on in the courts, and may not be settled until more graves are desecrated and serious human casualties occur. The “annoying” habit of North Dakotans on both sides, in preferring to be “nice” under the worst of circumstances, may not prevail in the wake of Governor Dalrymple’s studied neglect of his duty to serve the public good rather than private greed.

Democrats had better pay attention as well. They are being turned to, because, in a two-party system, there is little realistic choice for serious citizens. In fact, Democrats in Congress and State Legislatures are pressured by the same irresponsible corporations that totally dominate the Republicans. This time Democrats must not knuckle under, if they should command the Presidency and a working majority in both federal chambers.

If Democrats fail to regulate where regulation is necessary; if they fail to create real jobs in the “green energy sectors” they are promising; if they fail to produce infrastructure jobs for those in places like West Virginia, Ohio and elsewhere, who are displaced by high technology, they will deserve the same condemnation at the polls now being meted out to Republicans.

Meanwhile, cops continue to deal with the most discontented among us. I met my friend “Dan” on another occasion at the university swimming pool, where we both working out. I noticed that he was wearing a cast on his arm. He said, “yeah, I got a little careless while chasing down a perp [perpetrator of a crime].”

Chasing, not shooting. All in a day’s work for a Chicago cop back then. And today as well, I dare say, for most of them. I related Dan’s story to some local cynics here in Bismarck, while we watched some of the latest horrors of police abuse in St. Louis, Chicago and Baltimore, at a local restaurant. They replied; “oh sure, that’s Old School.”

I prefer to call it integrity. Honor.  

Recently in:

MOORHEAD - As a young boy growing up in Kurdish-controlled Iraq, Jahwar Salih played soccer and tennis, dreamed of a college education. Those dreams were smashed after he turned 16; he picked up an AK-47 and joined the Peshmerga to…

By the time Butch Patrick was cast with the iconic role of Eddie Munster the wolfboy son on the classic television program “The Munsters,” he was a seasoned child actor. Starring in television roles on such programs as…

Best Bets

​Lick Narson

by HPR Staff

The Aquarium, 3rd Ave & BroadwayWednesday, October 23, 9 p.m.-2 a.m.The talented songwriter, local favorite and DJ hosting the Cult of Lick EP launch party. Electronic dance music but now striking out in new directions. Our…

Last week we had the opportunity to attend the Climate Change Forum at Standing Rock High School in Fort Yates. If there was one word to describe the experience it would be inspiring. Tribal elders, Executive Director of…

American Health Care—From Tropical Paradise To the Bottomless Muddy MuckWe have the best medical care in the world for the 10% who can afford it and the worst care for the bottom 90% among the Organization of Economic Cooperation…

To say that this year’s Bartenders Battle was the best display of talent in the six years since its creation would be an understatement and a disservice to not only the bartenders who made it into the competition, but also the…

By Jill Finkelsonjsfinkelson99@gmail.comThe unassuming old truck shop on First and University is now frying up Funky Fried Chicken for Fargo. Their menu features chicken tenders and sandwiches with a selection of sides like pimento…

Music

10 years of vinyl

by HPR Contributor

By Jill Fikelsonjsfinkelson99@gmail.comDean Sime has been collecting records since he was in sixth grade. Since then, he hasn’t stopped. Though he stopped working in a music store twenty years ago, he has spent the last ten years…

Admirers of previous television and film incarnations of Charles Addams’ legendary collection of macabre icons have another variation to contemplate, but the computer-animated feature from “Sausage Party” directors Conrad…

Arts

Folk arts make happy hearts

by HPR Contributor

By Lonna Whitinglonna@lonna.coNot long ago at a North Dakota nursing home located in Nelson County, a storyteller from The North Dakota Council on the Arts helped an elderly woman express in writing an important milestone from her…

By Michael Str!kemichaelstrike.solo@gmail.com“No one moves to Fargo to become a professional actor,” she said, but after starting Theatre B with her husband and a core ensemble of performers almost 18 years ago; Carrie…

Stand-up comedy is traditionally a one-way exchange. Outside of the odd question addressed to a random audience member, the limit of the spectators’ contribution to the conversation is their laughter at the comedy stylings being…

The famous 20th century Southern writer William Faulkner quipped, “Civilization begins with distillation.” Technically one brews beer instead of distilling it, but the sentiment still holds true. Fargo is no stranger to the…

Wellness

Yoga on the Farm

by Ryan Janke

Every Thursday evening during the month of June, Mara Solberg is inviting people to come out and try Yoga on the Farm. It is a unique yoga experience that was born from an idea that was proposed to Solberg.“I’ve been with Red…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

By William Southworthwsouthwo@cord.eduThe United Kingdom has a new boss. Considered to by some to be a British counterpart to Trump, Boris Johnson is riding a wave of political discontent with a can-do attitude and bubbly stage…