While I haven’t read them recently, I don’t recall the Bible having any happy prophets. They were grim, worried, often predicting doom and gloom. They yelled at the people, worried them like a terrier with a toy and constantly had G-d looking over their shoulders. Even today that can’t make one pretty nervous; back in the day of floods and other biblical events (sort of like living in California) it was even worse for them. Nor am I sure that they took any comfort when their prophesies came true. What kinda guys revels in someone being turned into a pillar of salt? Moses was always catching hell from his flock. Joseph seems to be the exception to the rule, so much an exception he got a play written about him, while old Elijah only gets a chair at the table.
As the ages progressed I think it got worse. If the king or potentate didn’t like the prophesy he might well kill the prophesier or throw him in a dungeon that makes the worst of today’s prisons seem like a Hilton. Check me on this but I this his off-handed approach to prophets caused Cassandra, who after all was only delivering someone else’s thoughts, to be so concerned that she said, “Don’t kill the messenger.”
So where am I going with this. Most of you know that for over 30 years I worked for a human rights organization. A lot of my life was spent on issues of hatred, anti-Semitism, racism and the like. It caused me the sad conclusion that people will sink to the lowest level you allow them to. The caveat is not allowing them to; hence my work. Then I spent eight years at the Sheriff’s Office; before that I logged countless hours as a volunteer law in law enforcement in several cities around the country including being on the DOJ’s Child Murders Task Force in Atlanta. If I ever doubted my philosophy stated above about people, life in law enforcement pretty much erased that doubt. So, finally (you may be thinking) I come to the point.
Within an hour of the assault on the Capitol I said to my wife, “This is an inside job.” True, were I a real prophet I would have said it before the assault but no matter. It was clear as could be to anyone with an open mind. While the Capital Police were never looked at as the elite in law enforcement, more ambassadors with guns, in some cases maybe high level art museum police. That changed after 9ll. Still there were some who looked like if they had to run from one end of the capital to the other they’d drop dead, the force was enlarged, better trained, much better equipped, and had it’s own SWAT type unit. They were now designed to be able to hold the Alamo until reinforcements arrived. Normally that wouldn’t take too long. After all, DC has more police departments than Carter’s has liver pills–DC police, FBI, Park Police, Executive Office police, national guard. There are others. And let’s not forget right over the bridge behind ole Abe is Ft. Meyers, and behind the capitol is the entry from Maryland with its state police and national guard. It doesn’t take long to gather a large group of men and women who can shoot straight, so to speak.
Someone had to screw up. Or maybe not. Maybe someone just “forgot” to lock the door at night, again so to speak. In college I was a tourist guide to help pay the way. I’ve been in the capital buildings almost as many times as the reporters who cover capitol goings on. As Rachel Maddow said, “I’ve never been in the capitol building one time when I didn’t get lost.” In normal times, a great embarassment for Freshmen Representatives and Senators was to be found by a cop or senior official wandering around like a lost sheep sometimes looking for their own office, no less a conference room. You don’t even go in the front door, for goodness sake. It is also physically challenging. Parts of it are like a rabbit warren. The halls are long and wide, except in some places where they aren’t. The signages is stately but not always helpful. In sum, you don’t get off a bus from Arkansas and know where you are going once inside the building, unless of course someone has given you a tour and/or a map. Hmmmmmm.
I don’t know about you, but when faced with a phalanx of riot dressed police holding body-sized shields, I wouldn’t know how to deal with them. But a lot of people in the scrum did. The capital has lots of windows. It didn’t seem like chance that the ones with no protection, that could be smashed in were the ones that were found. Defenders were beaten and shot. That type of mayhem and injury doesn’t come from folks preparing to protest, it comes, as some tweets exhorted, from people ready for war.
Technology drives me to the edge, but in this case I thank G-d for it. Scores of these traitorous ne-er-do-wells live and on camera. Some pictures were so clear you could make out who cut themselves shaving that morning. We know the pipe-bomber wore an expensive, unusual pair of air jordons. Fortunately for us, this was not a group of mensa members. Plain blacks sneakers with the logo taken off or even slippers would have been the smart choice. Fortunately this guy not only didn’t wear the right costume to the ball, his bombs didn’t work either. He was the Mad Hatter, not Eisenstein.
So what do you do with this bucket of sewer effluent? Throw the book at them. As we’ve begun to see the charges will range from somewhat minor to pretty major. There are multiple charges in different categories for a lot of people. Conviction one a string of smaller charges can add up to an unpleasant number of years in jail and the likelihood that their lives as productive, job holding citizens in the future is gone. Conviction of major charges, for some of these people, will come to close to a life sentence. But we’ve already seen that there will be a judge or two whose rule book, state or federal, seems to be missing a few pages or had inserted into them a few pages not in the others. But no matter, the jurisdictions are many and prosecutors can be tenacious, inventive lawyers. Most will get their due and many will learn a lesson from those others.
Right-wing ideology has always been a thorn in America’s side. The Know-Nothing party of the mid 1800’s. The protectionists of the 1920’s, Fr. Coughlin, the Bund rallies of the late 30’s and early 40’s, Joe McCarthy, and now the patriot groups. There is no reason to think this will change. What has changed is the tools available to them and the damange they can do with them.
What to do? One thing is doing a much better job of in-take for law enforcement and the military. THe other is the old stand-by, “If you see something, say something.”
It give me know pleasure to say this but, the fate of the nation is individually in the hands, and eyes, and ears, of each and every one of us–at least from my perspective.
A non-too-happy BIll Gralnick waxes prophetic and wonders if the America in which he grew up will be an America that his grandchildren will find better or worse.
He reminds you, for lighter fare try his, “The War of the Itchy Balls and Other Tales From Brooklyn.” Amazon, paperback or kindle, B&N paperback or nook.
ALERT: COMING THIS SUMMER–GEORGE WASHINGTON DIDN’T SLEEP HERE THE SEQUEL TO THE WAR OF THE ITCHY BALLS AND OTHER TALES FROM BROOKLYN. IT IS THE 2ND OF A 3 PART MEMOIR.