Democrat-Gazette Op-Ed: Back the Blue - Law enforcement protects liberty

August 31, 2020
Courtesy of Cody Hiland, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas

This Editorial appeared in Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on August 31, 2020

I believe in American exceptionalism. I believe that because our people, and the ideals they embrace, are exceptional. The unique and glorious concept upon which this nation was founded was our commitment to the idea that we were going to trust the people. We trust them with the liberty to think and speak freely, the liberty to bear arms, and the liberty to worship according to our own conscience.

Liberty—the quintessential American value—is entrusted to the American people for safekeeping.

Throughout our history, the people of the United States have been faithful in safeguarding this precious heritage of liberty. As a people, over and over again, we have chosen the optimism and uncertainty of personal liberty over the despair and menacing certainty of tyranny. I believe this ideal of liberty rooted in the intrinsic value of the individual is still worthy of preservation. Future President Ronald Reagan captured that sentiment in 1964 when he said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”

I believe all of our roles are linked in the defense of this American ideal. However, there is one profession particularly indispensable to the successful maintenance of liberty and unique in its purity of purpose and selfless oath “to protect and to serve.” The embodiment of our strength, and the privilege of bearing this responsibility, falls to those who have sworn to give their “last full measure of devotion”: The men and women of law enforcement.

The truth is no nation ever willed itself from poverty to prosperity by failing to uphold the rule of law. The ultimate success of education, infrastructure, and economic development is inexorably linked to our level of commitment to that responsibility. So long as the self-serving motivations of envy, greed, lust, and hate remain unsatiated in the darkened hearts of those who would do us harm, there is a need for sacrificial, courageous souls willing to confront it.

Unfortunately, this honorable profession has come under attack from those who seek to harm both the reputation and physical safety of the men and women who have taken that sacred oath. It wasn’t long ago that law enforcement officers were heralded as heroes. And while a great majority still believe that to be true, the outrage expressed against the many for actions of the very few is unfair and cannot go unchallenged. As with any profession, imperfection exists, and where it has been established that officers have violated the public trust they hold, those responsible should be rooted out and held accountable.

However, far too often, we see leaders—neither acquainted with facts nor weighed down by the burden of political courage—cower in fear and selfishly cast aspersions on an entire profession in their effort to appease the mob when faced with the absurd calls for defunding the police. The age-old temptation to embrace the failed doctrine of appeasement may give political leaders the immediate gratification of political cover, but that short-sighted decision only serves to enable those who seek the division of our people and destruction of our way of life with a thirst that will remain unquenched.

The health and well-being of law enforcement is fundamental to maintaining our national prosperity. The mob’s untethered justification for insurrection in our cities must be countered with a firm and vocal commitment to law and order. We do that by making sure the men and women of law enforcement are equipped with the leadership, funding and training necessary to serve the exceptional people of this nation. We do that vocally by offering a simple “thank you” whenever we see these underpaid public servants walking a beat, changing tires on the side of the road, or maybe just eating lunch.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men and women to do nothing. Thankfully, for the men and women of law enforcement, doing nothing is not an option.

There should be no moral equivalence between those who would do us harm and those who protect us from it. It is my prayer that the shrill cries of “Defund the Police” always be muted by our nation’s earnest declaration that we “thank God for the Police.” I thank God for men and women who hunt the evil most of us have the luxury of pretending doesn’t exist. And I thank God for men and women who understand both the sentiment and the very real cost associated with the truth contained in John 15:13: “Greater love hath no man than this, than he who would lay down his life for his friends.”

These men and women of the “thin blue line” are willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice for us. The least we can do is speak out for them. Let’s make sure they know that the next time they pull on their boots for another shift and leave their families to do battle for civilization and the freedoms we enjoy.

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Updated September 4, 2020