The funeral rites and processions for deceased police officer Nicholas Galinger are in full-flag military form for a reason.
The military posture of his burial in Cincinnati intends to tell the public of heroism, sacrifice, duty, the public will, and the best of American public institutions. Looking at drone shots of the military procession on the highway, seeing officers standing in rows on bridge tops saluting the passing caravan, and observing the ceremonies at a church, local people are stirred in their souls. They see the nobility of Officer Galinger’s calling and identify it with the nation itself.
By David Tulis / 92.7 NoogaRadio
Officer Galinger perished after being struck by a car in a late-night accident at a badly marked manhole cover pushed aside by stormwaters. His death is a public loss, an event for grief beyond that which might be occasioned by the death of a civilian. His badge and uniform make his death extraordinary, an event to be hallowed because he “made the ultimate sacrifice protecting your community,” as one speaker put it.
His hometown newspaper, the Chattanooga Times Free Press, understandably gives the removal of his body to its burial in Cincinnati three days of Page 1 coverage, with the funeral ceremony in the Saturday editions covering four-fifths of the front page. A half-page photograph of Officer Galinger’s dad weeping on the stars-and-stripes-draped casket graces the space between banner and fold. Inside, a double spread of photos and a jump text that bespeaks of the story’s rightful place as the top news for the day.
The people have yielded
Chattanoogans moved with gratitude at these events, however, are no longer a free people. Military honors imply always that the deceased fought to preserve freedom, liberty, democracy and the American way.
Americans have signed away their rights and immunities in many transactions with corporations and the state, bringing themselves under legislative and statutory authority in exchange for privileges such as free college, employment protection, state-approved fractional reserve banking, policing and limited liability. Tennesseans in this city in the bend of the Tennessee River are long used to being subject to police powers imposed broadly by city corporate government.
These powers are boldly exercised outside the scope of statute, and many of them repeatedly violate of the people’s God-given, constitutionally guaranteed, inherent and unalienable rights. The people say “yes” when they should be saying “no.”
These violations are so customary that they are not viewed with moral repulsion or any sense that they are improper. They are ugly and mean, but these interventions by police into ordinary life are just the way things are. They are normative, not lawless or wrong, and few complain in principle about them.
Armed forces-style ceremony
Officer Galinger receives martial honors because he is part of a military organization. Cops are part of the city’s executive branch headed by Mayor Andy Berke. They are a 500-person army with a support staff of about 120 people. The job of this army is to provide something that a free people would never need.
Military security and law enforcement in a time of peace in a civilian context.
This army’s tax consumption this year is F$71.15 million, a sum reviewed and discussed by city council. This flag-waving and patriotic organization is the center of repeated scandals, yet the people of Chattanooga and the representatives believe themselves helpless to do anything to abolish, restrict, or defang the force.
The toughest thing anyone in Chattanooga might do to reduce the violence, the perjury and the sexual assaults by the officers of this organization is to have a civilian oversight group. This panel would have little power and little influence. It is a simulacrum reform, a palliative, a marketing among those who want to “do something” to reduce police abuse. It is a distractive pound of steakbone thrown over the head of an angry dog to distract it.
We love our occupation
The big question to ask today is: How long will we deserve police and their noble, thankless service?
Are we so criminal as a people we need to have our evils suppressed for years into the future? National sins are judged in terms of that sin. Killing babies in abortion hardens our hearts and depopulates cities. In 2018 Americans killed 40 million tots. Are we so morally reprehensible that in God’s providence we have the scorpion to sting us and the lion to devour us along the way, with policing a part of a judgment for national lawlessness?
Do we deserve to be subject to the state and its agents because of our criminality, our worthlessness, our shabbiness, our violence, our private violation of the rules of equity, our pornography and divorce, our rough neighborhoods, our fearfulness, our poverty, our frontdesk clerks and their $80,000 wad in student debt, our disorders, our relinquishing our children to the state, our state-based human trafficking via foster care and family court?
In other words, should we expect policing to continue as part of the context of a debased social order and general godlessness?
Are things getting better?
But maybe the work of the church in Chattanooga, the work of Christianity in the city, is in such reform that we no longer deserve the harshness and monopoly in policing.
Maybe, just maybe, we longer deserve a police department because we are increasingly peaceful, we are increasingly lococentric, we are increasingly charitable, our despair easing and abortions declining, our people righteously against the modern state.
If we don’t have a limited and godly state as required in the scriptures, we are going to have police and groups like them would serve the executive state. A godly people would have the civil magistracies limited to courts and sheriffs who protect them and enforce their orders. They would not be subject to an executive state and a legislator state, with its tax systems, its prisons, its vast bureaucracies cum ministries.
Police are part of the executive absolutist state that the gospel condemns and which Christianity should fight. The gospel ordains a free society, a horizontal society, with free market capitalism and strict protections for private rights of property, reputation and life. A free society protected by the law of God (equity) has a sharply limited role for the civil authority. It has, almost exclusively, courts. Courts are always open and awaiting to resolve problems arising from crime or tort.
The military heroics implied in the Gallinger rites may stir our hearts with a sense of patriotism. Patriotism is evoked via the national symbols and emblems, and once it operates it eviscerates many ordinary categories of thought, bypassing God’s claims in theology and basic understanding about history and society. We may be be stirred to tears in consideration of Mr. Galinger’s death and the lives of his two surviving children. And that is what Christian sympathy requires.
But the press coverage is an important marketing tool for police. It cannot undo what we know already about its operation. Its searing power to keep court dockets full, its arbitrary and frightening impositions of people who have committed no crime and are not criminals at all who have a sudden encounter with an officer on a sidewalk or on the side of a street in a car.
For some residents of Hamilton County, no amount of sacrifice-oriented language, federal flag draped coffin and rows of standing officers can make us forget cases that have seared themselves into the public consciousness in the city. The powerful arrest of officer Ben Piazza of Frederico Wolfe. The dynamic extraction by officer Wright of Avery Gray’s daughter from a parked car. The charge stacking and lawless arrest of Diana Watt at the gas station off Wilcox Boulevard on July 7.
Soldiers who died in the U.S. government’s foreign wars are all buried at the national cemetery off Bailey Avenue are saluted as heroes and figures of national importance and virtue. It is said that they gave the “ultimate sacrifice” for “our freedoms.”
We see no conflict between that claim — of noble service to the nation — and the existence of police, who exist to offend our freedoms and liberties, and harass people who under our constitution and law are free and not subject to them.
Police make themselves essential
We dare not go to far into these thoughts, lest we offend those to whom we turn when a crime or accident occurs. People count on police to catch burglars, chase down a rapist, detect a perpetrator in a hit and run, uncover a murder. The department’s detectives trace out a narrative of the steps of a killer in the hours leading up to his deed, and to discover his whereabouts when the body is discovered. We count on police to provide accurate and truthful testimony.
Police have absorbed an essential peacekeeping function that society needs. They are the “go-to” party if we have a noise complaint, are harassed by a beggar or hounded by a former boyfriend. When neighbors have a wild and noisy party early Sunday morning, we call police to rescue us from the annoyance. In an assault on a sidewalk, everybody thinks of calling 911.
Police exclude alternative solutions, consume the capital and resources that would bring about their replacement in the marketplace for peacekeeping and security. Like public schools, policing is a state-based cartel funded by taxation that offers itself as the sole answer to questions of justice and making the people whole after crime accident.
Shares of police are in strong decline in the security and safety market. The honor and respect lavished upon them for decades is increasingly in discount, and looking frayed.
As we pay respects for the officer killed in an accident, let us consider something of our true state as Tennesseans, and a once-free people.