Both Skip Gates and Obama were right the first time. Even the birthers know it.
Three men are in a bland GMish car. They are departing from an evening gathering featuring massive consumption of liquid refreshment. A more innocent time. Before Reagan and all that ‘Just say no’ nonsense. Everyone assumed ‘Animal House’ was a simple documentary. That particular gathering had run out of key ingredients. So the stalwart three had volunteered to venture forth and procure more. Back in a flash type thing.
After duly making the rounds and heading back, cue sirens. What follows at first is the usual script . . . ‘license and registration’ . . . ‘do you know how fast (erratic) you were going?’ Blah, blah. Adam 12 stuff.
The stopped vehicle positively looked like an aluminum recycling pick up site. Crammed on top of the empties and packed against the windows? Fresh, gleaming, cold unopened receptacles and various colored bottles, some of which would catch fire if lit. Today, this would trigger a Homeland Security Orange Alert. But this America was untainted by either Bush. All the men had to do was sit out the usual unnecessarily long wait with the spot light on the vehicle. We’ve all probably been there — twiddling thumbs in the bright light as officers pretend to look things up. It’s all a charade. Everyone knows they’re trying to enforce psychologically their, er ‘digit’ is bigger. Back in that day without Internet or computers they’re likely flirting with the dispatcher via radio.
Eventually, the caucasian officer dawdles back up to the vehicle’s rolled down window. The script now starts to go horribly wrong. Before he can speak, the caucasian driver asks “Is it against the g*****n law for me to call you a g****** m*****f*****g c***s*******g Iranian (hostage time) d**l******g . . . ? For literally about 45 seconds. A run on beat down lasting 45 seconds can be an eternity. Or it can be an epiphany of sublime supernatural inspiration. This one was beyond sublime. And given the amount of refreshment already consumed, one must acknowledge with accolades there was not one repeat of a phrase the entire 45 seconds – and very little slurring.
So the beefy Man with the Badge replies, “Well, there is some controversy about that in the courts . . .”
And the driver jumps back in and says, “So, I can call you (repeat 45 second brutal beat down) !!” The Man with the Badge tosses the ticket. And off we all went. (The Driver became a senior partner in one of Washington D.C.’s bluest of blue chip law firms and law review graduate. Passenger No. 1. became a pediatrician. And you know what happened to the Stiftung). All happy to pitch in and cover fine costs. There oddly is not much excitement or febrile reaction in the vehicle. Some laughs. But not in the OMG stratosphere. An inconvenience over and done with. The police, you see, were not seen as Towering Unchallengeable Platonic Figures of Authority. Yet.
Besides being a fun memory, it’s also instructive. Everyone involved was from a prosperous suburb. The Right Wing had yet to hijack social mores. Or launch the Cult of Authority. (MADD also didn’t exist). More importantly, the people had not given officers permission yet to vent a militant psychological inadequacy of somehow being both Man and Victim.
In 2009 the same scenario would play very differently even with the same actors. It’s not just race. The Nation surrendered to authority figures who mingle their own individual personas with their official duties. The most obvious cases? The pharmacist who is Anti-Choice refusing to fill ‘scripts even for skin treatment. Or even a Scientologist acting out their own views. Law enforcement has always been a blend of individuals as well as intense ethos (for good and ill). Add the Cult of Authority? We get law enforcement that does a thing because *it can*, not because *it should* or otherwise seek a solution away from the exercise of fullest Power. In parallel with the bloated National Security State. Under Obama Americans are as enthralled to the Authority Cult as ever. That’s the bigger issue, not just race. Gates didn’t bow. (It also explains the Rightist frantic lunacy about Obama as Commander-in-Chief; the cognitive dissonance of him as the ultimate secular Authority short circuits neural pathways).
Around here, not that long ago, parents of a high school senior wanted to throw a party for their kid and friends. So in advance they invited all the kids over with the knowledge everyone was going to spend the night. Got some beer. Collected everyone’s car keys. And basically said, ‘Happy graduation, stay here, stay safe and we’re up stairs.’
They also got arrested. (Someone ratted on them). And yes, they protested. And yes, they were splashed across the WaPo as essentially pedophiles, pushers, terrorists and just plain *A*wful *P*arents. Po po in force. From the local TV and print media lurid hyperbole you’d think the parents tried to build a dirty bomb. Forcing high school kid slaves to drink beer and be unAmerikhun. Not an isolated incident and all with the same outcome.
Perhaps that kind of police reaction doesn’t bother you? We’ve watched local caucasian police (initial twosome) force a different 50-something caucasian law firm partner from his own million dollar house. And just like Skip Gates, when he protested while complying, they kept calling for ‘backup’ until the street was choking with squad cars, whirling lights. Race had nothing to do with anything. It was all about failure to Kneel Before The Badge.
We watched it unfold while carefully showing our Warlord face of sorrow and sympathy for the inconvenienced public servants. In return we received the expected secret nod and eye recognition from the officers that we were One. It’s subliminal. But they groked our faked signal that they were, in Les Grossman’s terminology, ‘Big D*** Players.’ Rather like 4th grade.
That’s where America is today in our opinion. Yes, the Skip Gates case has race issues. How could it not? But the larger issue is how this Nation allowed itself to become mere petitioners before its own employees – black, white, orange, green or purple. How the Cult of Authority remains as vibrant and expansive in 2009 as it was in 2008. Or 2003-04. If Obama had any balls, that’s what he should realize and include in his ‘teaching moment.’
Our bet? Not even an oblique mention. More change we can believe in.