The Rail, from its very start in October 2000, has been guided by a unique philosophy. It is committed to bringing the arts and humanities to its readers along with social and political commentaries, in a monthly publication that is provided free in print and online. Each editor has autonomy over their respective section. This is how the voices of many are cultivated in a way that is never reductive or pandering, at least as long as I’ve been a publisher for 22 years this October, 2022 during which the Rail has been a trusting collective committed to publishing works that are the results of thoughtful meditation on their subjects, be they social, political, or on the visual arts. As might be expected in such a context, a very few of these articles have caused considerable disagreements to our readers.
We at the Rail are thoughtfully accepting that the nature of our work is bound to have imperfection, as reflected in our often-evoked remark by Immanuel Kant that, “From the Crooked Timber of Humanity, nothing ever came out straight.” In other words, as much as we try to mediate between opposing perspectives and endeavor to gain an understanding of the issues, we address in a way that is deep enough to avoid generalization—especially when a perspective is taken as an extreme judgment—we don’t always achieve our desired objectives.
Upon reflecting on the article “Why Are All Cops Bastards?” written by Serge Quaddrupani and Jerome Floch (written in French, translated into English by Janet Koenig, and published in November 2021 issue), I found that I have a view quite contrary to Serge and Jerome’s position that all police are indecent human beings, even when taking into account that the situation in France is different than it is here in the US.
I can think of many instances, large and small, in which the police have played important and constructive roles, ranging from the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, in which many police officers and firefighters lost their lives or were made extremely ill by their heroic efforts to rescue their fellow human beings, to the safety they provide us with daily as we walk the streets of our wonderfully complex city. One should also not forget the assault against law enforcement officers who were trying to protect the US Capitol on January 6, 2021—a basic shield of protection not only for members of the legislature but for democracy itself.
We all know the term Good Cop/Bad Cop, which reminds us that not all cops are good. But we should also keep in mind that most cops do in fact act resolutely on behalf of the public good. There is no domain in life where everyone acts well, but we should be very cautious about exaggerated rhetoric about the supposed bad behavior of any group in any domain. We need to pay attention to harmony as well as dissonance, so that we all can be more understanding as we navigate the complexities of social life and politics as well as art and culture.