Treat the Police same way we treat veterans
Veterans are saluted and cheered at every event and holiday in America, and yet most people don’t think twice about the Police Officer who also puts his (and her) life on the line everyday in some of the toughest and most violent places on earth, right here in America. Shouldn’t they get equal billing along with military veterans, not all of whom were on the front lines of violence? I’m a veteran. I can ask this question!
By Ray Hanania
Why do we treat military veterans and police differently?
Police put their lives on the line, like veterans, to defend this country in the face of violence.
Sometimes, the danger police face is greater than the danger that soldiers face.
In today’s world of Uber-Patriotism, we seem cheer for the wrong reasons those who defend us. We honor all veterans the same, no matter whether they did or didn’t directly face violence.
We honor all veterans as heroes at every holiday and every commemoration.
As a veteran, I think that’s great. I proudly defended this country during a very unpopular war in Vietnam. Although I did not go overseas – I wanted to and trained for it — the military decided who did or didn’t.
Not everyone enlisted in the military during the Vietnam War. Many did everything they could to avoid service, some justified but many not.
I say that because I know super patriotic Americans – many of whom probably didn’t serve – might be upset with my suggestion that police and veterans should be treated and honored equally, regardless of whether they faced actual violent circumstances.
Is it possible the enthusiasm of many who never served in the military to honor veterans may have to do with guilt? That would be the wrong reason.
I think police face danger every day, on the streets of violence engulfed big cities like Chicago, in safer suburban communities like Orland Park where I live, and even in counties out in the countryside where population density is so low and crime is not as rampant.
So, why do we treat police differently from military veterans? They both do the same things. When they need to put their lives on the line in a violent circumstance to protect the innocent, they are there. They both don’t shirk their responsibilities.
Not every veteran has faced a life or death circumstance and not every police officer has faced a life or death circumstance. But, we don’t distinguish between the veterans who served, so why distinguish between police who serve and may or may not engage in confronting the bad guys?
In Orland Park, the village board last year approved a vehicle sticker that proudly showcases the American Flag and the words “We Support Our Police.”
In this day and age of Uber-patriotism, you would think the public would be enthusiastic about our police. But they’re not. Many fear that if they display Orland’s new vehicle sticker on their car for the next two years (July 2017 to July 2019), people angry with the police over several terrible incidents, might vandalize their vehicles.
They can cheer at parades, but not on their cars.
In response, Orland Park printed a bar code sticker that they gave with the American Flag/Police Tribune stickers and let the vehicle owner chose which to display.
It’s a no brainer for me. I placed the American Flag/Police Tribute sticker on my car.
If someone has a problem with that, so be it. Just as there have been veterans who have committed atrocities and violated the law, so too have there been some police. And if someone vandalizes my car because of that sticker, they should be prosecuted as criminals, not just vandals.
Should we punish all police for the acts of a few? No. Doing so would be an act of a different kind of racism, which in my book is no longer just about skin color.
The new racism today is discrimination and hate based on skin color, religion, culture, ethnicity, and any other reason that people use to negatively stereotype whole groups because of the actions of a few.
I’m proud to say I support the police this 4th of July weekend. Let’s salute the veterans and let’s salute the equally brave police officer. They deserve it, too.
(Ray Hanania is a columnist, author and former Chicago City Hall reporter. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)