Blue Line Excuses for the Insurrection

If John Catanzara’s views are representative of sentiment within American law enforcement, that institution is gradually pushing us into an American equivalent of the Third Reich.

The president of Chicago’s largest police union defended the actions of a mob of Pro-Trump rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol—an incident that resulted in four deaths on Wednesday.

John Catanzara, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 and a Trump supporter, defended the rioters in an interview Wednesday by saying “there was very little destruction of property.”

“There was no arson, there was no burning of anything, there was no looting, there was very little destruction of property,” Catanzara told the radio station WBEZ in a Wednesday evening phone interview. “It was a bunch of pissed-off people that feel an election was stolen, somehow, some way.”

Those claims are the twenty-first century American equivalent of excuse-making for the Beer Hall Putsch, and from pretty high up within the law enforcement establishment. It’s hard to know how representative or widespread Catanzara’s view is, but this Newsweek article is not the first time I’ve encountered it. It’s making the rounds within law enforcement circles.

What Catanzara is saying is that an attempted putsch is no big deal if carried out by people with political views with which law enforcement generally sympathizes. That’s a tacit declaration of war on the rule of law by those tasked with enforcing it. Not even the death of a fellow officer has fazed the likes of Catanzara. If one dead cop is no big deal to cops like him, how many dead Democrats would be?

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that Joseph Biden, Kamala Harris, and the Democrats can save us from a monster like this one. The situation breathes new life into that old question: “Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?” It sounds half-amusing when asked as a rhetorical question in a Jamaican accent to a reggae beat. It stops being amusing when asked as a literal question in an American accent with the music off.

But that’s how it needs to be asked. Answering it is, for now, a useful theoretical exercise. It won’t stay merely theoretical for long. Every fascist regime begins by co-opting law enforcement. Either we confront this now, or we head down the same road as the Nazis, with an Americanized version of the same result. Feel free to call that “alarmist” until it’s too late to stop it from happening.

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