Mulgrew and the Media

Aug 22, 2014 by

UFT President Mulgrew has taken a lot of heat for the teachers union’s role in the march in Staten Island. He was accused of being anti-cop and a stooge of Sharpton. Both charges are ridiculous.

He did not vilify and should not be vilified himself. He’s a unifier, not a divider. There must be no rift or rupture between the teacher and police unions. They are brothers and sisters in common cause.

Clear explanations should contain the damage. Better communication could have prevented the misunderstanding. But one particular tabloid, an arsonist always out to torch the teachers union, ignited and poured accelerant on the unnecessary flames. Its founder, Alexander Hamilton, weeps.

There must and will be healing.

As an independent voice and retired teacher, this is the way I view the police. I believe most educators feel the same way.  I don’t speak for Mulgrew. But he is very much in touch with his membership and I have never heard him disrespect cops. Though I’ve often heard him praise the police far beyond the call of labor solidarity.

With extremely impressive and near perfect consistency, police officers show sensitivity, discretion and restraint. They use minimal force needed to achieve a necessary outcome. They are justifiably called heroes. But they are only human and nobody is doing them a favor by denying that fact.

Still their job demands an almost superhuman and dependable level of responsibility and judgment often translated into action in a flash of time. Their duties are varied and constantly evolving and expanding. They are complex and frequently performed under pressured and unpredictable conditions. Lives hang in the balance and there is no margin for error.

Police officers routinely scale the heights of accountability and rarely falter. But it’s not unheard of.

They are the gold standard for law enforcement in our nation.

But in a free society it is dangerous to give automatic and unconditional support to any authority, whether an agency, institution or individual. That’s especially true when they carry lethal weapons.

The percentage of police officers who fail to do their duties honorably and effectively is statistically insignificant. Every tour of their careers, tens of thousands of officers witness and sometimes are drawn into being protagonists in countless fragile and volatile dramas being played out on the streets.

Cops undergo intensive training, background checks and oversight. In the absence of immediate evidence of misconduct, they deserve the benefit of the doubt. But not the presumption of infallibility. Not exempting the police from the rule of law is not an anti-cop position. Nor is it suggestive of radicalism or contempt.

The legitimacy of police power is defined by its limitations. It is strengthened, not compromised by its relationship to the treatment of the innocent. It is used to protect them, not wielded at their expense. That’s why the NYPD is admired almost to the point of being revered. The record speaks for itself.

Teachers do not march in lockstep and choose their affiliations based on principles. They support their union and they support the police and their union.

There is no vendetta.

Let’s make up and stay together.

Ron Isaac

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1 Comment

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    Excellent commentary by Ron Isaac. His statements are always right on point. God Bless him. The media needs an educated POV. Isacc give that and more. PCMurray,

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