I knew the left’s collective self-flagellation following the death of George Floyd last May had officially become a self-parody when Rolling Stone’s E.J. Dickson wrote this June 12, 2020, piece: “Sorry, Olivia Benson Is Canceled Too: The ‘Law and Order: SVU’ protagonist gets lionized as a TV ‘good cop.’ That does real-world damage.”
Yes, that’s right — the feminist archetype played by Mariska Hargitay on the NBC series may be a “good cop,” but she is still a cop. That is a problem.
“The truth is that, if you agree that the system is broken and great changes need to be made on all levels to fix it, you can’t pick and choose what needs to be changed,” Dickson wrote.
“No matter how much you love Olivia Benson, you have to be willing to grapple with the fact that she plays a major role in perpetuating the idea that cops are inherently trustworthy and heroic, and that many viewers are unable to distinguish between the gossamer fantasy of how justice should be handled, and how it actually is.”
There were plenty of thoughtless think-pieces from our 2020 fever dream lamenting the perfidies of our police officers, but that one took the cake for me. Apparently, any fictional cop who isn’t portrayed as the very face of evil isn’t telling it “how it actually is.”
Who’s Garcia? He’s a San Jose, California rookie police officer who’s getting plaudits after video of him pulling an unconscious driver from a burning car went viral.
According to KRON-TV in San Francisco, Garcia — who’s only been on the force for eight months — was responding to a crash Sept. 26 on Highway 101. The video of the rescue was taken from inside a San Jose Fire Department truck.
“What was going through my mind was just, ‘I need to get him out now. Faster the better,'” Garcia said. “I think it was just in seconds the flames were getting hotter and bigger.”
“His shoes were melted to the floorboard,” Garcia added.
According to the U.K. Daily Mail, Garcia was alerted to the fact there was an unconscious man behind the driver’s seat by people on the scene.
“Some guys were yelling,” Garcia said. “I asked them if, ‘Is there someone inside the vehicle?’ They responded with ‘yes,’ so I just immediately ran towards the vehicle.”
“Kinda saw the person, I was in shock and then I just decided to try to yank him out of the vehicle and drag him towards fire department.”
The driver was taken to the hospital where he was treated for his injuries.
“Speaking to the fire department, they said if I would not have done that, it could’ve been life threatening for him,” Garcia said.
San Jose Police Chief Anthony Mata praised Garcia for his actions.
“Courageous, brave, and for him to kick in in eight months, just amazing,” Mata told KRON.
The San Jose Police Department also lauded Garcia on its Twitter account:
Without hesitation, and even with fire department personnel moments away, the officer did not hesitate to risk his life and pull the man from the burning car. In this job, seconds count and, combined with bravery, can save lives.
— San Jose Police Dept (@SanJosePD) September 27, 2021
“Without hesitation, and even with fire department personnel moments away, the officer did not hesitate to risk his life and pull the man from the burning car. In this job, seconds count and, combined with bravery, can save lives,” the department tweeted.
Garcia is resisting the hero label, however.
“I just believe I was in the right place at the right time,” Garcia said, according to the Daily Mail.
“I know any other of my partners or anyone in the department would’ve done the same exact thing.”
With that kind of rhetoric, you might think that if the E.J. Dicksons of the world wanted to really put their money (or their words) where their mouth is, they would attack the positive coverage being bestowed upon him. Sure, it’s easy to go after a fictional construct on “Law and Order: SVU,” but if defund-the-police types believe no cop should be lionized, I’d love to see them plant their flag here.
However, the reason they don’t get worked up about hero cops saving people from burning cars is that this kind of logic tends to backfire when applied here.
Garcia will, God willing, spend an uneventful few decades on the force. In all likelihood, this is the last we hear from him; he goes from being a lauded hero to being an unsung one, the same role so many others in the San Jose Police Department who “would’ve done the same exact thing” currently occupy.
He’s easy enough to ignore. He’s small potatoes. Die-hard defunders might see this story on the news, roll their eyes and move along. Olivia Benson, however, shows up several times a day on USA Network.
Not only that, but she could influence more people to think positively about police.
Dickson himself noted she could even turn them into police officers. “A not-insignificant number of police officers have credited the show with their deciding to enter law enforcement, and it’s safe to assume that an even larger number of viewers watches the show and believe that police officers like Olivia Benson are fundamentally on the side of the vulnerable and disenfranchised,” he wrote.
Those people noticed when cops in general (and, perhaps, Benson in particular) became cultural punching bags last year.
Recruits are down. Attrition is up. The present and future Pedro Garcias — the men and women who will run toward that burning car — took notice at the cultural invective toward cops, both of the real and imaginary variety. Quite a few of them decided they wanted no part of a no-win situation.
That’s probably a satisfying effect to have when you’re the one behind a keyboard, “canceling” Olivia Benson. When you’re the one behind the wheel of the burning car, not so much.
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