• AJ Freeman

Blue History Month: The Texas Rangers Were Bastards (and so is your favorite cop)

you have to consider who the guns were aimed at.

Throughout American history, there the cops are, on the wrong side of it.

From dutifully returning freed humans to enslavement during the bafflingly romanticized Antebellum period and busting up labor movements in the Industrialization era to yanking black people away from lunch counters during the Civil Rights struggle and shooting random civilians in the streets of our new millennium, you can always count on the cops to make things worse.

Running forces while burning crosses has been the cops’ general MO forever...but to be fair, I suppose ”all cops” does not actually mean “all cops” in the leftist incantation “all cops are bastards.”

There are probably a few good cops out there, the kind from the TV that roll around seeking stranded motorists to assist and lost toddlers to escort back to their mothers.

Good, upstanding public servants with altruism in their hearts.

never fear, the movie cops are here!

However, if we’re going to allow for good cops, we must also allow for good Crips, and I would be willing to bet that when you think of the infamous blue-clad street gang, you don’t immediately think of the one who had a cooking show on cable with Martha Stewart.

one of these two individuals is a convicted felon.

So as a blanket statement, I feel pretty comfortable with it: all cops are bastards.

Of course, this writer is a lifelong member of the underclass, so I might be a bit biased.

My permanent suntan makes me six times more likely to be arrested than a Real American, and my socioeconomic standing puts me firmly at the bottom of the American caste system.

The long-running reality series aptly titled “Cops” paints this picture better than I ever could.

For what has to be 30 years now, “Cops” has followed officers on the streets of American cities as they create content about crime as a social construct, violating the civil liberties of everyday citizens for simple drug possession or even loitering as those who launch the most devastating attacks on the idea of polite society are left to turn themselves in on their own time.

you ever wonder what hits the cutting room floor when cops control the cameras?

For some reason nobody kicks down the front door of that one guy who siphoned off b-b-billions in public funding or the others who helped foment an armed insurrection against the entire legislative branch.

(No, I am never going to let that go. Ever. I will go to my grave with this grudge.)

If conservatism is the idea that the status quo is preferable to evolution toward inclusivity, then policing, particularly in America, is an inherently conservative pursuit.

Members of law enforcement are selected specifically for their belief in and adherence to traditional Puritan principles, such as chaste living and hard work for its own sake, which is why activities such as vagrancy and sex work are penalized more harshly than actual terrorism.

Police officers at all levels of government support and enforce this status quo, aiding and abetting some of the worst crimes in society by leveraging the State’s monopoly on violence as well as shielding the worst among them from the consequences of their actions with violent silence.

I’m old enough to remember when the phrase “Stop Snitching” was marked as the sentiment of a criminal culture, a moral failing that impeded justice while allowing the worst among a group to operate with impunity...except when it involved the police, then it was “The Blue Wall.”

I guess I get it...if there’s anything conservatives love, it’s building walls.

your tax dollars at work.

...and hey, just so you know, I’m definitely talking about the cops in your family too.

Your cousin’s a cop? Bastard.

Your dad is a cop? You’re half-bastard.

Your kid is a cop? Bastard and a half.

Believe it or not, I have a cop pretty close on my family tree...southern sheriff who is most of 7 feet tall and weighs about 350 pounds after a month of fasting. Unc is on record as saying that he would rather shoot a perp in the back than run after them, given his obvious mobility concerns.

Guess what that makes my own mother's brother?

If this reads as harsh to you, please understand that I am attempting to work against the painstaking indoctrination of an entire media construct.

The hero cop has become a standard archetype in our books, films, and television. Through a never-give-up mindset and a loose interpretation of legal bounds, scripted cops from Olivia Benson to Jake Peralta have managed to initiate unlawful searches, arrest the wrong person, and even attack parties considered innocent before the law in the pursuit of episodic justice.

Even that police dog from “Paw Patrol” is a little more intimidating in its real-life context.

"Training Day" was a documentary.

Indeed, despite their sentimental marketing and exalted standing in society, from where I’m sitting practically every law enforcement official to lace up a pair of freshly licked boots in the United States of America is an active dickhead, and few organizations exemplify this concept like the legendary Texas Rangers.

Now, when I use the word “legendary” in that last sentence, I want the actual meaning to come across. The Texas Rangers are legendary not for their delivery of justice on the open plains or some dramatic taming of the Old West, but because their public perception is one of myth.

Like many of the our most valued institutions, the Texas Rangers have roots in racism, vile and virulent.

Formed during America’s bloody continental expansion campaign, the Texas Rangers were as feared in northern Mexico as the Klan was in the South, murdering, raping, burning, and looting their way into the hearts of a nation for generations to come.

The Texas Rangers may not have invented police brutality, but they sure got good at it...as a name for a sports team, it belongs in a bucket along with “Oklahoma City Bombers” and “Washington [404: Name Not Found]."

whitewashing is as American as baseball.

Established in 1823, the Texas Rangers of law enforcement helped make living room for the master race through the extermination of thousands of people along the border between Mexico and some new thing called the Republic of Texas, also arresting a few other bandits along the way.

Like all similar forces, the Texas Rangers were far from a crisply starched unit in the beginning.

These were the rejects of civilization back east, essentially a small band of outlaws willing to murder nearby Native Americans and take over their lands. Under the guidance of one Stephen F. Austin, recorded by history as “The Father of Texas,” the local Karankawa tribe was identified as the law enforcement organization’s first target and slaughtered in accordance with American national interests.

It was a lot like William Sherman before they aimed his criminal insanity in the right direction.

the Texas Rangers take down some bad hombres.

By the 1835 Texas Revolution, the area was overrun with invaders from faraway lands such as Tennessee and Mississippi, all of whom shared this desire to see the natives run off their homelands. This catalyzed the formal establishment of the Texas Rangers by the Republic’s “provisional government,” which is actually a really nice way to say “reign of oppression,” isn’t it?

The foreigners’ job of eliminating resistance and propping up a puppet state done, the Texas Rangers continued to carry out their original duties for decades. They regularly shot Mexicans who would dare cross over the border into what was their land just a short time ago while themselves stealing cattle and equipment from across the border, a process today known as “civil forfeiture.”

the police are actually very well funded.

The Texas Rangers also continued to chase down and eradicate native tribes such as the Cherokee and Comanche. They even played a role in the Mexican-American War that expanded the country to the Pacific coastline, with finely honed skills hunting brown people in the arid deserts of the Southwest.

In fact, for their brutal methods and indifference toward innocents, the cowboys earned a different name among Mexican villagers of the day: “Los Diablos Tejanos.” Ya don’t need Google Translate to know that it was not a moniker of affection.

The links between the Texas Rangers and modern police may be best illustrated by 1918's Porvenir Massacre.

there was once a thriving agricultural settlement here, but hey...at least they got a plaque.

In this appalling incident, a small posse rode out to a local ranch to investigate a crime...at least, that’s the excuse they gave. In reality, the Texas Rangers stormed the ranch in the dead of night, kidnapping every male member of the residing family and taking them away from the village to be executed.

The surviving women and children fled their homes, and their village was burned to cinders.

The Porvenir Massacre comes to us through history only because of the word of a white man, who was familiar with the family through teaching at a schoolhouse in the area. The teacher tried to report it to the authorities, and while he was repeatedly rebuffed his persistence finally won out, and the Texas Rangers involved in the incident were reluctantly dismissed.

In keeping with police tradition, an internal investigation yielded no criminal charges.

With this weighty legacy to consider, it might be tempting for the reader to ask how a profession so tightly interwoven with cruelty attained such an unimpeachable position in public perception.

As usual in America, the answer involves great PR.