Don’t Call Me Barney Fife, It’s Racist


Barney Fife Don Knotts in 1970 IMG Wikipedia
Barney Fife Don Knotts in 1970 IMG Wikipedia, By CBS Television – eBay Item photo Public Domain,

USA – -( As a young child I lived in Scotland and was taught that nation's history while attending a three-room schoolhouse in the small village of Innellan.

We learned of many famous warring tribes and clans of ancient Scotland. One of the families I learned about was the Fifes. They were descended from the warrior tribes that made up the Picts. My headmaster would tell us stories about these Picts who would go into battle naked to scare their enemy and then return victorious with the severed heads of those the Picts had killed in hand-to-hand combat.

The Pictish descended Fife family has lent its members to the cause of war, from battling Romans who occupied what became England in Jesus Christ's lifetime, to the modern wars of the 21st century serving in the armies of the United Kingdom of Great Britain. The Fifes were a warrior class family with many of their members immigrating to the US.

Enter the fictional law enforcement character of deputy sheriff Barney Fife of Mayberry, North Carolina.

If you have ever seen the Andy Griffith TV show, you know who Barney Fife is. Sadly Barney did not live up to the warrior class manhood of the Scottish Fife family. If Barney Fife ever stripped down naked and ran into battle, the enemy would run away laughing.

Instead of using his Pictish designed sword, spear and shield, this 1960s member of the Fife family would pull out his empty revolver and attempt to insert his one green (from corrosion) 38 special round of ammo he always kept in his uniform shirt pocket.

No one was afraid of Deputy Barney Fife, and that Hollywood image of a bumbling failure of modern law enforcement has remained to this day.

I would suggest that millions of people around the world since the first season of the Andy Griffith show aired on TV in 1960, have at some time in their life negatively referred to their contact with law enforcement, as dealing with a Barney Fife. It is not flattering and “cops” at the federal, state and local levels of law enforcement are not amused.

Now given the fact that there is a real Fife family and that they have a history of a warrior class race of northern European people, if you besmirch the Fife name are you not in fact besmirching the race of people that the Fife family in Scotland descended from and currently represent?

If you are making open and hostile remarks about one Fife that are so negative most of the English speaking world know it is a derogatory, demeaning and yes race-based negative, hurtful, and mean-speech way of degrading a respected class of employment (being a cop) in our world, I submit that is racist.

Our American society cannot, must not and will not tolerate racist attacks on any minority or majority class of people in this country, including those who wear blue.

I have spent most of my adult life in law enforcement, and yes, I have been called a Barney Fife more than once in my long career. In the old days, you just laughed it off.

No longer can this vicious demonstration of hate, this deliberated attack on the defenders of the law of the land by profiling, demeaning, and attempting to isolate by oral oppression be condoned, it must stop.

The descendants of the warrior class family of Fife spread out to the English speaking nations of the Five Eyes must take an international stand and say “no more” to the race-baiting, hate-mongering attacks on law enforcement while denigrating the ancient Pictish-Scottish family of Barney Fife's ancestry.

The racially charged maligning of police offices by calling them Barney Fife is as severe a DNA- based attack on a protected class of people, as the nefarious oral attacks on the CNN news anchor Chris “Fredo” Cuomo who is descended from Italian DNA.

If calling an Italian-American a“Fredo” is akin to calling a black person the N-word, then surely calling an upstanding and vetted law enforcement member of our nation a “Barney Fife” would be as derogatory as that dreaded N-word?

Dare I suggest that the re-runs of the old Andy Griffith show be boycotted and perhaps removed from the TV airways in an attempt to put an end to this half a century (plus) attack on America's finest, her “cops.”

We can no longer abide the never-ending onslaught offensive on the good name and hard work of American law enforcement in their tireless effort to defend, protect and serve their community and this nation 24 hours a day.

To my brothers and sisters in law enforcement around the world, rise in one voice and say “I am not a Barney Fife and “Fifing” any cop is racist.”

No one in law enforcement in the state of North Carolina was harmed by the writing of this column.

Major Van Harl USAF Ret.

Major Van Harl USAF RetAbout Major Van Harl USAF Ret.:

Major Van E. Harl USAF Ret., a career Police Officer in the U.S. Air Force, was born in Burlington, Iowa, USA, in 1955. He was the Deputy Chief of police at two Air Force Bases and the Commander of Law Enforcement Operations at another. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Infantry School.  A retired Colorado Ranger and currently is an Auxiliary Police Officer with the Cudahy PD in Milwaukee County, WI.  His efforts now are directed at church campus safely and security training.  He believes “evil hates organization.”

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