Archived Opinion

A bit of hypocrisy in Back the Blue

A bit of hypocrisy in Back the Blue

By Heather Hyatt Packer • Guest Columnist | With a recent motel sign in Maggie Valley has come a collective hissy fit from the community with many businesses rushing to retort. In today’s climate, speaking out with any unpopular opinion is dangerous business so I tip my hat to the motel. Good for you. 

However, seeing the social media blitz to follow has been mind-blowing. Commenters replying, “Run them out of town!” and “That’s not a mountain value!” is laughable. I do not know how many times I have been told if I do not like it around here, I can move. 

Now my family has been in these parts since the 1700s. My great-grandfather on down the line founded Turpin’s Chapel (Haywood’s first church) and was the first white settler to homestead beyond the French Broad River. To tell me, with entire communities named after my family, to move, is ridiculous. I’m going to stay right here just to keep the pot stirred. You’re welcome. 

After a debate on Smoky Mountain News’ Instagram, a guy told me at least we locals had wheels on our houses so we could get out of town. Thanks for your classist, ignorant feedback. Intolerance is not welcome yet many of you good Christians are quick to tell people to get on down the road if you don’t like their opinions. Many a second homeowner or second-generation resident (non-native) telling the rest of us to move? Learn to love thy neighbor, folks. You need to move if you can’t handle different points of view. But I’d wager you’ll have a hard time fitting in anywhere with that attitude. 

Not only are folks missing the point of the motel sign, but they have got their history all wrong. As a proud Appalachian American, I’m fairly versed in our region’s history. At no point in two centuries have mountaineers ever backed the blue. For centuries, mountain folks didn’t fancy outsiders at all. We enjoyed our isolated area. The long reach of Johnny Law was regarded outrageous. Mountain folk ran off revenuers and often got into shootouts with the law. 

I can recall historically at least four mountain sheriffs who were gunned down: Sheriff Noland in Haywood and Sheriff Green in Jackson County to name a few. Sheriff Noland was killed chasing down Confederate deserters (and enforcing conscription laws) and Green was killed while eating a box meal at the Balsam Mountain Inn. Mountain people were bootleggers who had to use profits to pay high taxes to keep the family farm, especially after the Civil War when poverty was beyond rampant. Carpetbaggers moved in and bought up farms, driving up the taxes — similar to today’s gentrification. People had to find a means to feed their families and pay the rising taxes annually. 

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Historically, mountain people wanted to be left alone — and this included involvement with law enforcement. Around 1 percent of all calls for service to law enforcement are considered violent crimes. In a city like Baltimore, about .9 percent of calls are for a violent crime. Do law enforcement officers put themselves in harm’s way sometimes? Sure. But it is a job. It is a uniform they can take off. Unlike Black Lives Matter, the Blue Lives Matter movement fails to recognize this distinction. Black people cannot stop being black. Cops can quit the job. 

In 2019, stats reported by the FBI show that 89 officers lost their lives in the line of duty. Forty-eight officers died because of felonious acts while the other 41 died in accidents. In the same year, 999 citizens were killed in fatal police shootings. In 2020, that number jumped to 1,021. Everyone wants to “back the blue” these days when all I see is our local police handing out traffic tickets. 

In my experience, when I have called for police help, I am lucky if the officer even understands the law as it is written. Then they stand around treating the caller with annoyance, write up a report (maybe) and offer advisement like “Go see the magistrate” or “there’s nothing I can do.” Of the residents I have polled to ask if they have felt truly protected or served in our community, I rarely get a positive encounter. If you feel this is important work being done then OK, I guess? Enjoy your $300 traffic ticket. 

Conservatives who back the blue did not seem so keen on law enforcement’s actions in January when a seditious group of traitors stormed our nation’s capital. The same people who showed up at the Maggie Valley BLM march waiving Blue Lives Matter flags were on social media praising the “patriots” who were displaying lawlessness. The same conservative ideology that preaches small government seems to be fine with the militarization of these small agencies. 

For years we heard how President Obama and now President Biden are gearing up to enact martial law. So when that happens, who will enforce those curfews? Your local police officers. Who will roll through the streets with SWAT teams and tanks? Your local police officers. Some of you grown folks cannot even wear a mask in public, storm a county meeting about your rights and scream at the police (all caught on video). It is funny how you like the police when it benefits you. I do not imagine you would be backing the blue if martial law did come into effect. 

When we talk about bad police officers killing unarmed American citizens people try every way within reason to justify it. Imagine your relative or your friend is fishing. A game warden approaches and asks to see his/her fishing license. As your relative or friend opens their tackle box fumbling around to find the credentials, the game warden shoots and kills them. This community would be up in arms. People would be absolutely outraged that a good ole boy like so-and-so was killed when he was trying to comply with the officer’s request. So how is that any different than the killings of Breonna Taylor (who was sleeping in her bed) or Philando Castille? It is no different. And if it is different to you then we both know why. 

There is a toxic police culture. The mentality among law enforcement is an “us versus them” as if they are at war with American citizens. Cops are trained to be in constant fear as if each interaction is fraught with extreme danger. They are trained to use violence as a first resort. The United States military trains service members to use force as a last option, teaching de-escalation tactics and made to adhere to the Geneva Conventions, standards for humanitarian treatment. Shooting unarmed citizens during war time will land you in the brig with a court martial. Yet we are training our law enforcement like they are joining the military — military in North Korea. Shoot first, ask questions later. 

Being in law enforcement is a hard job. They work grueling shifts for low pay. Yet we as citizens complain about tax increases which would offer pay increases, recruit better candidates, and boost training. I am not saying all police officers are bad. But I would like to know where are the good cops when these “few bad apples” are running the streets like thugs? Why did three officers stand by while Derek Chauvin kneeled on George Floyd’s neck for eight minutes without intervention? 

The hypocrisy and wrath are hard to keep up with these days. All these conflicting ideas wrapped up in a buzzword or catch phrase. People scream about cancel culture but are quick to attack the motel in Maggie because they do not agree with their message. Also, when is the last time any of you spent your money at that motel? This same bunch also elected a guy who thought using a campaign slogan “The Wight guy for the job” was a smart move. Same businesses and people slamming the motel praise outlaw Popcorn Sutton using his image to market the community. How can you love folk hero outlaws and then tell people to back the blue? Again, y’all are confusing. 

 I grew up in Maggie. My mama’s family has a mountain/road named after them. I know what my great-granddad thought about law enforcement as he hid his still in the woods. If you do not like real mountain culture, it is time you consider moving back to wherever you came from as this is our neck of the woods. 

(Heather Hyatt Packer, 8th generation Haywood county native. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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28 comments

  • ABSOLUTELY AMAZING ARTICLE!!! I have Lived in Haywood County all of my Life, and I agree with everything you have written. Nobody else has even came close to putting things like you have. You truly deserve an award for this! Thank you for this!

    posted by Rebelicious

    Friday, 05/28/2021

  • I'm sorry, I stopped reading after, "They are trained to use violence as a first resort." Obviously you have no idea what you are talking about and your own biases have clouded this written masterpiece of yours. This is the problem we're having in America right now, people post things on social media and write articles and make statements as if they're facts and continue to spread lies about police. If everyone believed everything being posted right now, then with every encounter the police have with the public (thousands of encounters daily) we should be seeing at least 1000 shootings and killings of poor innocent people daily by police, because of course as you mention, police are trained to use violence as a first resort. In reality, people seem to be their own worse enemy and kill and commit crimes against each other at an astonishing rate, but let's not talk about that, it's not currently news worthy.. Haha, your statement is one of the most asinine statements I've ever heard. Sorry, you're just one of "them", spreading your lies and whatever fits the current agenda.

    posted by Wallace

    Wednesday, 05/26/2021

  • Thank you for the well written opinion. This is an opinion section , not the Gospel of John, so all the close minded yay hoos can just stuff it . This author embraces her first amendment right the way the AR 15 club embraces their second amendment right to bear a weapon of mass destruction.

    posted by Vince

    Tuesday, 05/25/2021

  • A bit of hypocrisy saying "I am not saying all cops are bad" while defending ACAB.

    posted by Joe Moorefield

    Tuesday, 05/25/2021

  • You're a native. Whoopie. You pay little attention to anything that does not fit your hard left narrative. Chauvin did not kill Floyd. Floyd killed Floyd by swallowing a bunch of drugs, including 3 times the lethal does of Fentanyl. Fentanyl poisoning results in the very behavior Floyd demonstrated.

    Yes, there are problems with the Police. There are problems with criminals too. People like yourself have increased the problems with Police and have sided with the crooks. You're as closed minded as the very people you hate.

    posted by Quartermaster

    Sunday, 05/23/2021

  • Thank you! I appreciated the history lesson as well as your comments. It’s too bad that a restaurants and inns feel the need to drive their customers away with politics, especially wrong headed ones. We’ve had an Airbnb in Sylva for 5 years, and we have hosted folks from literally all over the world. Everyone is welcome in my home, no discussions of politics or religion, and we all get along great.
    We rented a home in Maggie Valley before moving to Sylva 5 years ago, a much more open minded community, where everyone is accepted, no matter what they think or look like. I do not recommend Maggie Valley to any guests, or people moving into the area (waynesville too, for that matter) because of the close minded, small people who live there.

    posted by Deni Gottlieb

    Saturday, 05/22/2021

  • In this rambling screed the author cherry picks so many things while ignoring others and misrepresents so many facts nobody should take her seriously.

    She points out the history of moonshiners and lawmen who were killed as of to equate them with the hotel owners fitting in with the regions history and character. Yet either is ignorant or chooses to ignore all the history of the region also during those same years not welcoming carpetbagging outsiders and running people who came in trying to change the county out quite quickly and harshly, often with vigilante justice. Is that what she wants a return to? Because I doubt she would like the outcome.

    She cites military training while yet clearly has absolutely zero actual experience with it- here is a hint Heather, it’s not what you’ve been told on MSNBC or memes on left wing pages and frame it as here- then she describes how police training is done in a way that’s so off base it can only be characterized as a complete lie also based on bad assumptions and zero experience, and in her ignorance actually makes the massively insulting comparison of law enforcement here in our county to the military in North Korea.

    North Korea of all places. Of course she knows that’s nowhere near true, if it were she would have been yanked out of her home and executed the moment this was written, and the motel owner dragged away by police the moment they placed the sign. But that kind of extreme exaggeration and hyperbole is typical of the anti police crowd. If the problem was anywhere near as bad as she claims it is she wouldn’t have to lie and exaggerate like that to make a point. She’s well aware of the fact that the exact same law enforcement officers her and her motel owning friends call “bastards” not only won’t come arrest them for saying that as would happen in a communist regime like North Korea but that in fact they will protect them from other people trying to harm them for unpopular speech, therefore making the sign and this editorial safe for them to post up.

    Hypocrisy, I have found thee in an article supposedly decrying the you.

    Despite decrying the “us vs them” mentality regarding the hotel owners throughout the entire screed she stereotypes and lumps all people who must disagree into one basket and tossed around the “you people did this, you people did that, you people didn’t say anything when x happened” treating anyone who disagrees with the sign as part of one monolithic group that someone must be judged by the actions of who she imagines some of them must be. All “conservatives”, of course, and all to be lumped into one group of people judge by the actions of what she imagines they must be. And then based on her imagined caricature of what all of them must be like dismisses their opinions all out of hand.

    And yet I am certain if the same standard of judgement she uses here to judge those whose viewpoints she disagrees with were applied to her and those she considers allies that she would be outraged. If someone were to say “You liberals haven’t spoken up when people have attacked and killed cops at random just for who they are so you all must support violence and support cop killers” she wouldn’t like being lumped in with that. If someone said “You support BLM and at some BLM protests people were destroying property and being violent. Because all the other protesters didn’t do anything to stop them that means they are all bad because they tolerate it. Even though your protest in this county were peaceful you still are part of the problem” I’m sure she wouldn’t like it- yet that’s the exact flawed and broken logic she applies blaming all police, including our local ones, for problems that happen hundreds of thousands of miles away that they have nothing to do with. If a cop in Maggie is a “bastard” because a cop 1000 miles away in a big city did a bad thing then a person at a BLM protest in Maggie must be a violent and destructive anarchist because there were a whole bunch of them at BLM protests in Seattle- applying the logic her and her friends are using. Is that how she wants everyone and every groups members judged? Or is it only ok when it is applied to people and groups she doesn’t like?

    The author might have intended to call out hypocrisy, but instead she just ended up displaying it.

    posted by Tim

    Friday, 05/21/2021

  • Thanks for sharing your opinion.

    You told lost of stories of your family's history of animosity towards police, and that of other early settlers.

    I haven't noticed that our local Sheriff's office and police departments are in need of reform, which makes posting "ACAB" on a sign in Maggie Valley look pretty ridiculous.

    Looking at signs in the Maggie Valley area, it is pretty clear that, of those businesses expressing an opinion, the vast majority back our law enforcement officers.

    That's a fact, no matter how long you and your family have lived here.

    posted by Paul Yeager

    Friday, 05/21/2021

  • Funny, The sign on the motel went up after the owner was issued a citation for dumping shit on their neighbors property. She claimed it was "compost" but we all know....

    posted by Jim

    Thursday, 05/20/2021

  • When BLM is posted in a yard, It represents racism in its most basic way. Yet those who post this saying don’t consider themselves as racist, but what else is it? Those who post support the blue line are equally guilty of racism. So where do we draw a line? Do I places a sign in my yard such as BLDM or FTBL? No absolutely not.

    posted by J Henderson

    Thursday, 05/20/2021

  • Thank you !!! Well said !!! Except for final statement. I know it ties your essay up nicely but a “love it or leave it” type admonition isn’t really useful for long term solutions. You, yourself criticize this attitude early on with your comment re tolerating different views. The rest of your essay is beyond excellent. The best I’ve read lately, and I read a lot !

    posted by Judy Stockinger

    Thursday, 05/20/2021

  • Thanks for your thoughtful perspective.

    posted by Ken

    Thursday, 05/20/2021

  • Karen, please with the rhetoric. Your race baiting is oozing with your own pride and double-minded white privilege presupposition before you even punctuate a sentence. Do you know how many wars this country has fought and funded since the Civil War! Opposition to big government is not the same as criminals warring with police. You have been blinded by the Light. In their wisdom they became fools; given over to a depraved mind calling evil good and good evil; there is a way that seems right to a man, but it's end leads to death. Gives whole new truth to the coming of the lawLESS one. Brothers and sisters keep your eyes to the sky, these are biblical times!!!

    posted by Michael Collier

    Wednesday, 05/19/2021

  • You really hit the nail on the head in so many ways. Thanks for such a clever and honest accounting of Haywood's past on law enforcement and why Americans still need to be wary.

    posted by Ben

    Wednesday, 05/19/2021

  • Thank you for this thoughtful and well written article! I have had many of these same thoughts as of late but wasn't able to put them into words as well as this does. People need to learn their history as well as to learn a thing or two about the world around then. Bless you for helping us all to see that

    posted by Kathy, from Weaverville

    Wednesday, 05/19/2021

  • Lots of boot licking Communists in the comments section. Serious question to you'all....does it really hurt to be so stupid?

    posted by Jorge Floyd

    Wednesday, 05/19/2021

  • Well written and true to form. Thx HHP. People strike out at what they fear..even when not reasonable. Love and Light.

    posted by Carrie McBane

    Wednesday, 05/19/2021

  • Ahhh Communism! Guys that witch hunt ended in the 50's. Why does everyone keep forgetting that as Americans we can believe/say whatever we want. You scared a Communism? Then don't hate these folks right to say what they want on their property.

    posted by Anon.

    Wednesday, 05/19/2021

  • Back the Blue? Popcorn says "F*** you".

    posted by DL

    Wednesday, 05/19/2021

  • The Communism is strong with this writer and the commenters that support this tripe.

    posted by Fred Ammons

    Wednesday, 05/19/2021

  • Heather Hyatt Packer, I do agree with some of your opinions about law enforcement and also the fact that they will ultimately be the instrument for the tyrannical government to stomp on our Constitutional rights. The jack-booted government thugs as it were. They will be more worried about their jobs and pensions than defending our Constitutional rights that they swore and oath to for that job. However, the fact that you align yourself with Black Lives Matter (aka BLM) indicates to me that you are bleeding heart Communist and therefore I agree that you should Get The F*** outta here and move.

    posted by Rodney Akins

    Wednesday, 05/19/2021

  • I appreciate your thoughtful article and the historical perspective you bring to this sensitive subject.

    posted by Vicki

    Wednesday, 05/19/2021

  • Also Republicans: "Freedom of speech! ,social media censorship is the devil. Blah blah Trump. Better police pay, take care of veterans.... unless It raises taxes."

    Freedoms don't end when someone says something you don't like. My Democrat Dad says he fought in Vietnam so you can say whatever the hell you want.

    Why do Republicans think they're the only patriots?
    Why do Republicans think you can only question liberal ideals?
    Question everything! Always be learning, always researching, and fact check your sources!
    God bless America, and may God help end racism in our country.

    posted by Anon.

    Wednesday, 05/19/2021

  • Fan-f*cking-tastic article.

    We all need to start telling it like it is.

    posted by Jon Wood

    Wednesday, 05/19/2021

  • Thank you so much for this, Heather. I support the owners of the motel and agree with your sentiment precisely. This article will piss off so many of those who are too ignorant to understand what it means. Every word is so very true and hopefully, will get some to put their thinking caps on and at least try to understand that because of the former occupier of the WH they think it's their duty to divide, ridicule, and spread hate. I smell wood burning right now...
    Thank you again.

    posted by Ralphene Rathbone

    Wednesday, 05/19/2021

  • Love this! Very well written and I praise you for speaking the truth.

    posted by Cindy

    Wednesday, 05/19/2021

  • You are a total idiot! I am 4 generations in the AVL area, We were taught to respect and support law enforcement. I have needed them before and was very grateful when they showed up. Your comment ," At no point in two centuries have mountaineers ever backed the blue. " WHAT A JOKE!!! I am so surprised you grew up in Maggie, You must have went up North for about 10-15 years , then decided to come back and try and change it to where you were living, just like most interloppers. You keep stirring that pot and see what side of the fence you end up on. AND no before you jump to it, That was not a threat. This is just more demoCRAP B S!

    posted by Patricia Harmon

    Wednesday, 05/19/2021

  • MIC. DROP.

    Wow. Thank you so much for this column, Heather!

    posted by Sagan Thacker

    Wednesday, 05/19/2021

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