Four little stories all about the same thing
Four little stories all about the same thing
1. When I was in college, I was a fencer
Most days I worked with a partner who was an ex-Marine, just
back from a couple years on the line at the DMZ in Korea.
He told me about men who got bored.
The setup was there was a deadline -- no one was allowed to cross it.
The Marines in the towers were under orders to shoot to kill.
And what they would do is call to some local man, smile, wave a carton of cigarettes at him,
gesture for him to come on over, it's ok, come on, you want these?
And when he took one step across the line the guard in the tower would kill him.
2. I was sitting on my front steps in the Mission District in San Francisco --
Harrison Street, just about 24th.
I was waiting for the mailman, expecting a package with 2 pieces of jewelry,
both made by a friend specifically for me and my wife --
unique pieces and therefore irreplaceable.
At one point, a car pulled up to the stoplight at the corner of 24th.
Another car came up behind him, and the driver must have spaced out a bit
because he stopped a bit late -- just tapped the other fellow's rear bumper, but still...
The driver of the first car got out to see the damage,
while the driver of the second car was making hands up "oops, my fault, sorry" gestures,
the first car driver nodding, smiling.
The driver of the first car got almost to his back bumper
to see if there was damage and I could see something happen -- it was obvious:
He DECIDED -- right there -- decided it was ok to get angry
in this situation, and oh boy did he, total psycho act-out meltdown
jumping up and down shouting, waving arms, face turning red, the whole deal.
3. Donald Trump talks about the jihadists, the terrorists,
about danger danger danger, people who feel they have the right
to attack whenever and wherever they choose.
And he regularly illustrates the point he's trying to make
("Be Afraid - Vote For Me")
illustrates with talk about rapists sneaking across the border,
bringing death dealing drugs, and murderers,
and points to entire nationalities he says are guilty of that
("Well I'm sure there are some good ones..")
And yet, when people attend his rallies and then
attack young girls wearing head scarves, or Sikhs in turbans (not Muslims),
or people they think might be Mexican, his hands go up in surprise --
why would they think it's ok to do that?
Why would anyone think it was HIS fault?
4. A lot of drugs are illegal in Mexico and the US
either completely or without a prescription or a government license
to allow use and possession -- heroin, cocaine, crystal meth, etc.
People who buy and sell those things are at risk of serious penalties.
In recent stories about "El Chapo" he has been vilified
for the harm he's caused -- the number of people he's hurt,
killed with the drugs he sells,
with the guns he uses to protect his drug business.
He even acknowledged that in his interview with Sean Penn.
"But," he said, "when and where he grew up it was the only way to make money."
The USA is licking its chops to get him extradited
and into custody so they can punish him here.
And yet, in an article I translated as part of my job
some years ago, an article in a San Jose Spanish language newspaper,
the journalist answered the question people kept asking:
"Why doesn't the Mexican government stop them, the drug cartels?"
Because each of the 6 cartels that existed at the time
- -EACH ONE --
made more money each year than the entire government of Mexico.
Meaning bigger guns, planes, submarines, etc.
And, he went on -- most of that money came from
the United States, where people waved it at the cartels, calling out:
"Money money money -- Please please come over here
and sell us some of your stuff. You can do it.
You can step over the line and get away."
These little stories are about people who
feel they have permission to let the monster beast out of its box
if there was a rule someone had broken,
a line someone had crossed,
a color or religion or nationality some person
had the misfortune to be.
And they're also about the people who know
damn well they're giving them permission.
Doesn't matter if it was a black youth in the 1930's South
who some Klansman thought had smiled at a white woman.
Doesn't matter is it's a black woman in 2015 driving a car,
and her tags showed who she was -- a political activist
who had worked against police violence and for Black Lives Matter.
The cop decided to follow her until he got permission to pull her over --
she gave it to him by not using a turn signal to change lanes.
That gave him permission to provoke her until he could lay hands on her,
drag her out of her car, punish her, and take her into custody into a system that
-- if it was working the way it was supposed -- might manage to kill her,
which it did, in a cell where she only survived a couple of days
-- supposedly hanging herself.
In every situation the principle involved was that someone
had a beast that was rattling the cage, was longing to get loose,
asking the nice normal person to please please please
give me permission to go violently, seriously insane
go completely insane just long enough to do something hideous
and then stop -- and pretend it was ok.
I happens. It's happened for thousands of years.
Total momentary (a minute, a month, maybe even some years...)
total descent into hideous rampage -- because maybe THAT
will make the person feel better.
Pay back his mommy or whoever else had hurt him so bad.
But let's not pretend it is and/or was EVER anything more noble than that.