Why do cops hate cop killers


Tom Thieme

To person

is professor for socio-political education at the University of the Saxon Police and since 2018 co-editor of the yearbook "Extremism & Democracy". [email protected]

Extremists define themselves not only by their goals, but also by their opponents. Despite all the differences, they share the rejection of the democratic constitutional state. Hatred of the political system goes hand in hand with hatred of its representatives. The police as guarantor of political order and its central, visible and tangible embodiment therefore occupy a prominent position as the enemy. This applies in particular to the extremely heterogeneous left-wing extremist scene, which is examined below with a view to the function and characteristics of the police as an object of hatred.

Definition and function of extremist enemy images

Political extremism is generally understood as the antithesis of the democratic constitutional state that seeks to restrict or eliminate it. All attitudes, behaviors, institutions and goals that are directed against the principles of the free-democratic basic order are considered extremist - it is therefore a "negative definition". [1] In contrast to right-wing extremism as the "ideology of inequality", left-wing extremism absolutizes the idea of ​​equality. It includes different currents from communism to anarchism, which strive for a classless political order. The goal is the elimination of the market economy, whereby the term "capitalism" is mostly used as a metaphor for the democratic constitutional state. However, not every criticism of capitalism and society is extremist if basic democratic principles such as the rule of law, pluralism and human rights are preserved. If the anti-democratic character of legally and non-violent parties and protest movements is sometimes called into question, there is broad agreement on the characterization of the violence-prone autonomous scene as left-wing extremist. [2]

As with all forms of extremism, images of the enemy play a central role in left-wing extremism, because "it is always easier to fight against somebody and something as For Somebody and something ". [3] That does not mean that extremists do not pursue any political goals. But much more than the model of society they strive for, which often remains nebulous and about which there is hardly any consensus, it is the enemy objects that provide orientation Anti-democrats draw their attraction from the rejection and massive criticism of the established order and "project all negative qualities into the opponent. The selective perception - caused by information loss, information distortion, information filtering - favors an enemy image that has little in common with reality. "[4]

It is precisely this ideologization that distinguishes extremist images of the enemy from real "images of enemies", [5] as they arise in the course of external military intelligence and internal security policy assessments and serve to obtain information about the intention and strength of an opponent and to assess and assess the threat situation to be able to react accordingly. Extremist enemy images, on the other hand, are stereotyping, distorting, one-sided and cannot be empirically verified. [6] At the same time, there is a risk of a possible overlap, namely if images of the enemy flow into the (realistic) enemy reconnaissance and this thus experiences its own ideologization. [7]

Extremist enemy images fulfill four functions. [8] Firstly, they serve to distinguish themselves from others in order to define one's own identity (Integration function). One's own convictions are considered to be superior to other attitudes and the only morally correct position. This goes hand in hand with pronounced prejudices against supposedly hostile aspirations. Identity arises less from one's own self-image, but rather from the demarcation from others and the instrumentalization of diversity.

Second, feelings of threat should be increased (Mobilization function). The attempts to rally one's own following go hand in hand with the cultivation and exaggeration of doom scenarios, which are often based on conspiracy theories: enemies inside and outside would make common cause and want to destroy one's own group. This is accompanied by the identification of "scapegoats" for the current evil or the expected negative development. It is also a distraction from failure when the predicted ideological promise does not materialize.

Thirdly, images of the enemy promote self-assurance and the recruitment of one's own camp by providing simple answers to complicated questions (Legitimation function). Especially when different positions and objectives exist within extremist endeavors, common enemy images strengthen unity and self-confidence. Not for what, but against what their struggle is directed, creates back and cohesion: "Enemy images weld a group together, stabilize and unite them against the threatening evil in the outside world." [9] In addition, extremist enemy images serve to stigmatize the Build a bridge to broader social, partly democratic milieus.

Fourth, black-and-white pictures are drawn that are suitable for one's own ideological ambitions (Ideological function). This results in a coarse view that divides the world into good and bad. Their own positions are considered consistent, irreproachable and morally impeccable, while those of the (democratic) opponent are selfish and unjust. Extremists consider themselves to be the real defenders of truth, democracy, freedom and equality - and liberal society to be anti-democratic. [10] Hate objects create simplification. Because uncertainties in making one's own judgments, as well as cognitive dissonances, can represent a psychological burden for individuals. Therefore, in the case of enemy images, actual information is left out or reinterpreted. Complex realities are replaced by simple explanatory patterns and structures of meaning. [11]