Why I celebrate my father and condemn assholes with guns
I am the granola crunching, anti-Lowell Green, tree-hugging daughter my father was scared to raise. Although I have oscillated dramatically between both ends of the political and social spectrum, I now simply adhere to the facts and policies that best align with my set of national priorities and reflect my continually evolving morals, regardless of the political label they technically earn.
Whilst engaging in small talk over the last two years, I have found myself hesitant to discuss what my parents “do” whenever the question gets brought up. My father is a former sniper and staff sergeant for a metropolitan tactical unit. He dressed in a uniform that seemed to be the cross of a ninja, soldier, and Inspector Gadget each morning and set out the door with a full heart and clear intentions to get the bad guy. In the past, his career would pump adrenaline through my body when I had the opportunity to profess all the evil he confronted and combatted. However, as increasing stories and videos of police brutality began to flood the media, I began to silence this familial pride.
My rifle-holding father is a feminist - whether he labels himself as one or not - who continually advocates for equal pay, texts me about the latest documentaries on sexual assaults across campuses, and is a major proponent for increased female leadership among athletics. He dedicates hours to ensure raids happen smoothly and without disturbing innocent bystanders. Throughout his entire career, my father has argued for an increase in tasers, not because he believes officers should have more power, but in order to eliminate as many reasons as possible to reach for a gun.
My father was the first person to oppose the relaxed laws surrounding pedestrian gun use in the United States. His understanding of guns is that they are deadly weapons to be used in times of dire need, not for unnecessary and brutal, prejudiced violence on behalf of those who wear a badge.
We seldom see the pedophiles he and his coworkers have removed from society, the physical force he didn’t use after being spat at during a protest, the criticism he gave his fellow officers when poor choices were made, or the confrontations he has had with cruel individuals who have yet to trump his bravery.
My father is a police officer. Michael Slager, Randall Kerrick, Daniel Pantaelo, Ben Fields and those who have unrightfully injured or killed while on the job are not police officers. They have disregarded the written code and ethical standard intended to ensure citizens are kept safe. Their actions speak to a larger issue of institutionalized racism throughout America, but when it comes down to it, they were improperly armed individuals on a narcissistic power trip.
The media chooses to focus their reports on these cowards and in doing so drown out the voices and actions of those who fulfill their duties with a code of ethics that go above and beyond what is asked of them. In all sectors of society - religion, medicine, politics, or others - the media allows the minority who warp a thoughtful and just framework for their destructive motives to pervade and saturate our consciousness, resulting in the formation of skewed opinions.
There is no denying that institutions like defense forces must be viewed with a critical eye, but so too do the channels through which we are fed information about them. I acknowledge that brutality by police forces driven by racial privilege persists but I refuse, just as I disregard groups like the Westboro Baptist Church as honest Christians, to identify them as true officers. I once again return to my moderate position. I protest the women and men who wear a badge and inflict inexcusable harm on innocent people, but I celebrate those who like my Dad, who refuse to be jaded and honorably follow out their role as safeguards of justice.