Philadelphia, PA — In America, the right of the people to peacefully express themselves shall not be infringed upon. No matter how racist, bigoted, misogynist, idiotic, controversial, or hateful, if this expression is non-violent then you, nor anyone else, have no right to silence that person or group.
“I wholly disapprove of what you say—and will defend to the death your right to say it.” – Evelyn Beatrice Hall on Voltairean principle.
That being said, when this hateful and racist expression comes from those in positions of authority, it should also not be silenced. However, that person should be fired — immediately.
One would naturally feel that a police officer with Nazi propaganda tattooed on himself would immediately be relieved of his duties as a public servant due to the horrific conflict of interests associated with Nazis. However, one would be wrong.
As the Free Thought Project reported in September, photos of Officer Ian Hans Lichterman and his tattoos spread across social media, prompting an investigation and no shortage of anger. While it is certainly Lichterman’s right to do with his own body what he pleases, as well as cover it in racist messages, it is not his right to do so as a servant of the public.
Lichterman’s department, on the other hand, disagrees. A months-long investigation into this officer’s tattoos cleared Lichterman of any violations, and the case was quietly closed in December. When Philly Voice reached out to the department to inquire whether or not any specific determinations were made about the tattoos, they chose to remain silent.
Now, the cop with Nazi tattoos on his body is free to assert his authority over the citizens of Philadelphia.
Reductio ad Hitlerum, also argumentum ad Hitlerum, is a humorous observation where someone compares an opponent’s views with those that would be held by Hitler or the Nazi Party. This comparison is often entirely inapplicable in most conversations in which it is used.
Godwin’s law is another adage asserting that, “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazism or Hitler approaches”— that is, if an online discussion (regardless of topic or scope) goes on long enough, sooner or later someone will compare someone or something to Hitler or Nazism. Again, the majority of the time this comparison is used, it is inapplicable.
Calling some police officers Nazis is not too far fetched in modern day America. All too often, we see people beaten down, tortured, or even killed over something as trivial as a cop demanding ID — see ‘Your papers please!’ or, rather, “Ihre Papiere, bitte!” However, again, it is not 100% accurate.
But when a cop actually tattoos their own skin with Nazi propaganda, all doubt is removed, and it becomes even more ominous when that cop receives the blessing of his own department for having it.
The blessing was given to Lichterman because the department allegedly has no policy on tattoos. Apparently, they are unconcerned with the fact that the tattoo represents a regime that killed millions in the name of racial supremacy. Tattoo or no tattoo, Lichterman’s views are there for the world to see, apparently, unless you are a cop.
On Tuesday, John McNesby, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 5, said there was “nothing wrong” with Lichterman having Nazi propaganda tattooed on his body. This comment was a reiteration of what he said in September when he told philly.com: “I’ve seen it. It’s an Eagle. Not a big deal.”
However, we tend to disagree. One does not permanently engrave on their body a symbol representing one of the most murderous regimes in the history of the world, and think it’s ‘not a big deal.’
The mayor also disagrees. In a statement released this week, Mayor Jim Kenney, who previously called the tattoos “disturbing” and “incredibly offensive,” said officials intend to change the tattoo policy to stop this from happening in the future.
“I am deeply offended by the tattoo and I think it is completely inappropriate for any law enforcement officer to have such a tattoo given its impact on those they are sworn to protect and serve. Since the investigation determined that the officer couldn’t be dismissed because PPD does not have a policy against tattoos, we will draft such a policy so this cannot happen again.”
McNesby, like the department, said he did not know what investigators determined the eagle to represent. However, it did not take the Free Thought Project very long to do so.
Second, only to the swastika, the partieadler eagle was used as the Nazi party emblem and is permanently inked into Lichtermann’s left forearm with the word ‘Fatherland’ over it. During the Third Reich, Fatherland was used to describe the country of Germany.
Last Summer, according to Phillymag.com, Instagram and Flickr, photographs allegedly owned by Lichtermann were removed, though many of those photographs are still online, including several of his dogs such as Gunny and Rommel.
As if the tattoo wasn’t enough, Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel, popularly known as the Desert Fox, was a senior German Army officer during World War II.
It is quite telling of the nature of police departments investigating their own that it took them several months to determine what it took us just three minutes to do on google.
When cops can be hired who openly display a symbol of tyranny, oppression, and genocide, and their department then condones it, something is very wrong.