2020 has been nothing if not a MadLibs-ass year. The combinations of proper nouns, verbs, and adjectives we’ve had to experience these past 11 months are enough to make Leonard Stern and Roger Price (the creators of MadLibs, duh) roll over in their graves: the Pope live-streamed Easter Mass; Kobe Bryant died in a freak helicopter accident; the U.S. government dropped UFO footage (and nobody gave a fuck); Dolly Parton funded a COVID-19 vaccine; Rudy Giuliani denounced Borat.
I’m sorry to splash yet another demented can of fuel onto the bonfire, but allow me to submit another real-life phenomenon that sounds like an unfunny suggestion at an improv show: “Back the Blue Christmas Tree.”
Holiday copaganda is a seasoned (sorry) tradition—the Citations Needed episode on clickbait copaganda does an excellent job explaining the feel-good stories police release into the media stratosphere this time of year. As fall dips into winter, police stations send their officers out commit highly publicized acts of festive goodwill: They man toy drives, hand out pre-made food, and pull people over to give them gift cards instead of tickets—it’s funny because getting pulled over by a cop is fucking scary!
This year, police department Christmas decorations have, understandably, gotten some extra attention on Twitter.
This tree, from the Charlottesville Police Department commemorating the 267 police officers “killed in the line of duty,” packs a little less of an emotional punch when you run it against the numbers, given the fact that the leading cause of death for police officers this year was COVID-19… and we all know how well cops have handled COVID-19 safety precautions.
Charlottesville Police Department @cvillepoliceThe tree in our lobby has 267 ornaments, which honors the 267 officers killed in the line of duty this year while protecting the communities they serve. Thank you to Cpl. Hunt for decorating this tree to honor their memories. https://t.co/HbRxP4zNJP
Minion Death Cult Podcast dug up a (since-deleted) Facebook post from the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office in Alabama featuring a deranged little edit of a Christmas tree adorned with mugshots and prison-issue flip flops.
Devoid of humanity! I just heaved up my freaking eggnog!
Equally disturbing, though, are the pro-cop Christmas decorations that people are erecting in their own homes. That’s right—police supporters are decking the fucking halls with gun-toting snowmen, royal blue wreathes, and peaked cap-wearing Christmas trees.
The “Back the Blue” Christmas Tree is a classic combination of elements legible to anyone familiar with conservative culture in the United States: nebulous Christian values, extreme defensiveness, and hideous home decor. Cop lovers are so eager to “support the police” (and score some sweet Facebook likes) that they’re happy to toss aside anything that’s actually relevant to or meaningful about Christmas in the process. Sorry, “Jesus” who? This holiday season, foot-washing is out and bootlicking is in.
Here are all the cop-lover Christmas trees I managed to scrounge up on Facebook—if you spot any in the wild, PLEASE send them my way. Audience participation is the best gift a girl like me could ask for.
Tree #1 - “The Trendsetter”
From the Tactical Stocking to the ‘Sip and Paint’–style holiday vista leaning against the fireplace to the decorative handcuffs, this tree looks expensive. It screams, “That’s right, we trained our purebred dog to bark at Black people.”
Tree # 2 - “The Pretender”
This “snow-covered” Christmas tree might be fake, but the fawning adulation for the violent enforcers of the status quo is real. Looks crunchy as hell!
Tree #3 - The “Blue Lights Matter”
This Christmas tree looks like it’s going to get suspended two weeks (with pay) for something it said on a Twitch stream.
Tree #4 - The “Dead Cop Christmas Special”
Another DIY marvel! This tree, much like the first, is clearly a labor of love—no surprise the decorator identifies herself as an LEO wife which means, famously, she must have a ton of time on her hands.
Nothing says “I am happy with the life I live” like making constant, compulsive meditation on the potential death of your spouse a central part of your identity.
Tree #5 - “The Whole Shebang”
“Momma, can I give the snowman a red jacket like he’s Santa Claus?” “What? No, I told you, baby—Santa wrote me a letter and said he wants us to support our police officers by posting about them on Facebook. Can you pass Momma the blue glitter? The blue glitter, Jesus fucking—”
What do these cop-themed Christmas displays mean? Depends on who’s putting them up. “Law enforcement officer” and “LEO [spouse/child/sibling/parent]” are well-established identities, and in a year when the institution of policing has been broadly, explicitly challenged in mainstream discourse, it makes sense that cops themselves would circle the wagon. A scarier thought: How many Americans who aren’t directly related to a police officer are taking time this holiday season to honor our boys in blue and further cementing “cop supporter” into their sense of self?
Blocked and Reported
On November 20, Jason Taft of Platteville, Colorado was fired for the post-election comments that got him placed on administrative leave (and into this newsletter) earlier in the month. Bye Jason!
On November 21, LAPD officer Joel Sydanmaa filed a lawsuit against the department for damage “psychologically, reputationally, and emotionally” after he was suspended for one day over a Facebook post where he accused late rapper Nipsey Hussle of being a gang member. What a pussy!
On November 22, the mayor of Everett, Washington, announced her intention to investigate tweets allegedly sent out by Everett’s police union president, a sergeant named James T. Collier. Collier may have reply-guyed Trump, egged on cars hitting protestors during the anti-cop demonstrations this summer, and engaged with “Kyle Rittenhouse innocent” content… from the Twitter handle @JTC2014. Google your local officers.
Not quite posting, but on also on Nov. 25, James Daly of racist Halloween decor fame was charged with third-degree assault for choking out a handcuffed detainee alongside two other cops. He was apparently fired from his job as a cop in De Soto, Missouri in November.
On November 29, an anonymous cop working in Pacific Grove, California, was placed on administrative leave for posting “Fuck Black Lives Matter” on Parler.
On December 5, New Orleans PD sergeant Anthony Edenfield was fired for calling anti-cop protestors “animals” and “savages” and threatening Nikole Hannah-Jones on social media over the summer. Bye Tony!