history, politics

The REAL Thin Blue Line

While defending the US Capitol on 2021-01-06, police officer Mike Fanone was dragged down its steps, beaten, zapped with a taser, and nearly killed.  Apologists for mob rule (provided the mob is white) were soon rebranding the rioters as tourists who were merely rowdy.  Now Fanone is defending the truth at great personal cost.

When the Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department scrambled to reinforce the US Capitol Police on 2021-01-06, Mike Fanone was among the volunteers.  What he endured on that day and in the months afterward is detailed in an article by Molly Ball in TIME magazine.  The article is longish (8 pages in the print version) but worthy of its length.  While I will quote a few passages shortly, it is better to read the whole thing for nuances and impact.  Please do not be put off by some irrelevant rambling in the short first paragraph.

Structured somewhat like a sacred oratorio, the article interweaves narration of events in the riot and its aftermath with meditation on what the events mean, to Mike Fanone and to all who value American democracy and admire those who risk everything to defend it.  The narration begins on 2021-05-12 (“that very day” in the first passage below) and then flashes back to 2021-01-06.

The months since Jan. 6 had not been easy for Fanone.  Still recuperating from life-threatening injuries and posttraumatic stress disorder, he’d found himself increasingly isolated.  Republicans didn’t want him to exist, and Democrats weren’t in the mood for hero cops.  Even many of his colleagues didn’t see why he couldn’t just get over it.  That very day, a GOP Congressman had testified that what had happened was more like a “tourist visit” than an “insurrection.”

• • •

From the back, Fanone and Albright could see the officers were ragged: injured, bleeding, blinded, fatigued.  Some had been there for hours.  They could also see that if the line broke, they would be trampled in the narrow tunnel, and the rioters would overrun the building.  This was the last line of defense.

• • •

He was out in the crowd, surrounded by rioters. They dragged him face first down the stairs and punched and kicked and beat him.  They ripped off his badge and took his radio . One kept lunging for his weapon.  Someone was yelling: “Kill him with his own gun!”  Fanone felt an excruciating pain at the base of his skull—the taser—and cried out, but he couldn’t hear himself scream.  The rioters seemed intent on torturing him.  He thought about pulling his gun.  He would be justified in defending himself, but then what?  He thought of his daughters.  He didn’t want to die.  “I’ve got kids!” he cried.

• • •

Fanone believes we can’t keep trying to outrun this thing; we’ve got to turn around and face it, defeat it once and for all.  That if all we do is turn away and hope it fades, it will just keep getting stronger until it comes back to kill us all.

• • •

Perhaps we always fail our heroes: the veterans who sleep in the street, the whistle-blowers languishing in penury.  Perhaps all the medals and ceremonies are our constant, insufficient attempt to atone.  But we can never be grateful enough.  For our comfort, for our safety, for our freedom.

Fanone and TBL Flag_840x563

© Shannon Stapleton -— REUTERS


Should I have given this post the title “Mike Fanone’s Passion” (using the word as in “Christ’s Passion”)?  No, that would be overstated, as well as presumptuous when voiced by one who is not a Christian.  But Fanone did shoulder a heavy burden derived from many and varied sins, committed by many and varied sinners.  Yes, I am among them.

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