Philadelphia, PA — When discussing police in America, the comparison of Nazi Germany is an oft-present sentiment. While the actions of certain police officers certainly mimic or resemble Nazi-esque behavior, the comparison is easy to dismiss in conversation by those who don’t follow police accountability too closely. However, a particular cop in Philadelphia, and his ridiculously poor choice in body art, helps to remove that doubt.
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 usually 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.
A photo posted to Facebook this week, happens to show a cop with Nazi propaganda tattooed on his forearm. The cop, identified as Ian Hans Lichtermann, by Evan Matthews, who took the photos, has a rather unsettling tattoo, that is undeniably Nazi.
Second, only to the swastika, the partieadler eagle was used as the Nazi party emblem. And, it happens to be 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.
The post has caused a firestorm of outrage online, prompting the public to demand action from the Philadelphia police department.
In a separate Facebook post on Thursday, Matthews said he filed an official complaint against Lichtermann, claiming that “the mere decision to get this tattoo, and choose his profession, casts disperses (sic) any faith in Officer Lichtermann’s ability to do his job in a non-oppressive/racist manner.”
According to Phillymag.com, Instagram and Flickr allegedly owned by Lichtermann have recently been removed, though many of those photographs are still online, including several of his dogs, Gunny and Rommel.
Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel, popularly known as the Desert Fox, was a senior German Army officer during World War II.
Oh the nazi cop is awfully silly you can delete your Flickr and your Instagram but nothing leaves the internet https://t.co/h2UR3qc2pU
— Dena Driscoll (@bikemamadelphia) September 1, 2016
Twitter quickly blew up with users questioning the department’s choice to hire a man with a Nazi tattoo.
A cop w/ a Nazi tattoo whose dog's name is Rommel is probably *slightly* biased in his interactions w/ the community https://t.co/QmLaAGIMTe
— Guav (@guav) September 1, 2016
If you ask his cop buddies, however, they see nothing wrong with Nazi symbols being tattooed on their officers.
John McNesby, head of Philly’s Fraternal Order of Police, told philly.com: “I’ve seen it. It’s an Eagle. Not a big deal.”
We tend to disagree. One does not permanently engrave on their body, a symbol representing of one of the most murderous regimes in the history of the world, and think it’s ‘not a big deal.’
The very idea that the head of the police union would so easily dismiss the fact that an officer has a Nazi tattoo is a telling sign of the mentality of Philly police.
When the Philly PD was made aware of the complaints, they pretended as if they’ve never seen the tattoo, and issued the following statement below:
The Philadelphia Police Department is aware of the image being displayed and circulated on social media. The post and photograph of the officer with tattoos displayed on his forearms was brought to our attention this morning, and we have forwarded it to internal affairs for review.
Currently, the department does not have a specific policy regarding the wearing /displaying of tattoos; however, the department will quickly move to assess and determine the appropriate policy moving forward.
The Department does not condone anything that can be interpreted as offensive, hateful or discriminatory in any form. This is a very sensitive topic for both the citizens that we serve as well as the officers providing service to the public. We must ensure that all constitutional rights are adhered to while at the same time ensuring public safety and public trust aren’t negatively impacted.
When cops can be hired, who are openly displaying a symbol of tyranny, oppression, and genocide, something is very wrong.