Why Those Damned Masks?
Among the many disturbing trends we are faced with in the introductory decades of this new century is one that leaves me, as a former proud warrior in service to the United States of America, cold to my core. What the hell is going on with the warrior class around the world when the folks they protect can no longer see their faces? Compare photos from previous wars and what is going on now; in those 40’s pics we don’t see our military personnel wearing obscuring balaclavas or scarf wraps. Nope, those men and women who fought the biggest war in the history of this planet shoved their mugs right up there in a defiant, “Get this, photog!”
Today it’s not just our military forces covering up but our police forces and that’s where my concern becomes more than just apprehension, it begins to speak to me in a small voice in the back of my mind that America is, without even considering the consequences, surrendering a key aspect of its liberty in allowing those who police us to become faceless enforcers, cloaked in both physical and political anonymity so that any means of policing those police becomes terribly problematic, if not impossible.
I have previously expressed my opposition to the alarming militarization of our domestic police forces, in particular their expanding use of heavily-armed and extremely aggressive SWAT teams for what was formerly the job of a single police officer, carrying only his sidearm, the much desired duty of serving warrants that went to those officers in favor. It was considered a cushy gig, almost entirely free of the risks of normal patrolling. Now doors are kicked in and rooms are swarmed by screaming men tossing flash grenades, men as heavily armed as any in our military, domestic copies of real soldiers who actually do engage in truly deadly house to house urban warfare where the enemy is equally well-armed and dangerous.
But serving a warrant? Working a civil protest? C’mon, guys, we who have been there and done that in terms of armed combat can’t help but be unamused by young, gung-ho police officers who feel the need to inject this level of combativeness and authority, with all its deadly consequences, into policing the quiet communities where we reside. And this business of hiding your faces instills absolutely no confidence in the populace you police. If you truly represent what is right and lawful in our society then why the need to hide your faces?
I know, the standard response is fear of retaliation. Well why don’t you substantiate that fear for us by going back through the history of policing in this country and point out to us all the instances of retaliation against a police officer and/or his family because he carried out his duties as a sworn officer? No doubt there are some, but my bet is that they are damned few because any potential retaliators full well understand that if they harm or kill a police officer, or particularly his family, they are marked, by every law enforcement agency from coast to coast, for obliteration: the lesson being, you don’t ever screw with cops or their loved ones
OK, I understand we live in an era of anonymous terrorism; can we please not make the situation worse by cloaking our cops in anonymity so that they further build the level of unease in whom we, the populace, are to believe and trust actually are operating for our benefit?
The recent upheaval in Ferguson, Missouri, has served at least one good purpose and that is that Americans are not happy with the storm trooper image of local police we were treated to in the television coverage. Millions of Americans are asking “Why all the damned combat uniforms and gear?” Why armored military vehicles when we’re only dealing with angry citizens who have absolutely no way of ever taking on an armored vehicle? And last but not least:
Why those damned masks?