Over at The War Room, Tom Nichols has a good piece on the controversy surrounding the blatant show of disrespect and disgust that NYPD officers showed far-left Mayor de Blasio around the beginning of 2015. It made headlines everywhere, and even the right-o-sphere had some members throwing hissy fits about the police giving de Blasio the figurative group finger. I expect this attitude from the left, but many of these tantrums came from the usual suspects on the right who basically hate and/or are envious of police officers (tellingly, almost to a person, none of these people had ever actually been a cop). There was even some teeth gnashing at some respectable journals on the right…despite the fact that de Blasio could indeed reasonably be seen as an agitator for the murder of two NYPD cops just a little while earlier.
Mr. Nichols’ piece is a good explanation of why political leaders shouldn’t expect the unquestioning obedience and shows of respect that soldiers are expected to provide, from cops. A key point:
The difference between cops and soldiers is not just one of physical power, but of political importance. A coherent and obedient military (unlike the status of this or that police department) is central to what it means to be a “state.” That’s why a display of disloyalty from the military matters far more than protests by a local police force: because if the military pulls away from civil authority, the existence of the nation-state itself is in danger.
In any case, the New York City police department, like many others, does not work for the Mayor, it works for the city, just as law enforcement officers elsewhere work for their local authorities. Military officers, by contrast, work for the Department of Defense in a direct chain of command that leads to the President of the United States. Their actual oath, like that of all of us in Federal service, is to the Constitution.
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