Rwandan Radio

If this country doesn’t give us what we want, then we will burn the system down and replace it, alright?  –Hank Newsome, BLM New York chapter, on FoxNews…just in case you were hoping for ambiguities.

So I picked up a guy in Glendale last year, from a Spanish revival house up in the hills that easily could have been Barbara Stanwyck’s in Double Indemnity.  He was en route to a graduate program in Literature at Columbia University, and I asked him what he thought of James M. Cain.

Who?
You know, the author of Mildred Pierce. The Postman Always Rings Twice.
Never heard of those.
Really? You never saw the films?
Nope. Are they any good?

Glendale is James M. Cain-land. My rider had grown up in one of its historical neighborhoods, with literary ambitions, and had no knowledge of the man or his work. Now he was bound for the Ivy League, a certifiable cultural illiterate.  This amused me at the time, but no longer.  He was a harbinger of our frenzied anti-historical present.

Silence is not enough.

Last week I helped a friend in WeHo move his bed into storage. Driving up Melrose past miles of boarded-up storefronts he asked me what I thought about the Troubles. He’s a couch-surfing millennial and I figured I’d keep it friendly and meet him on safe ground. I told him I didn’t approve of looting. On that point at least we could agree, you’d think. My friend was having none of it.  The looting, the rioting, the assaults on police could not be separated from peaceful protesting.  They were on a continuum, merely left-handed and right-handed expressions of the same virtue, equally valid. It was not for us to question. He had contempt for the police:  “They were C students in high school.”

As we were talking we passed several dozen white people, mostly women, laying face down on the ground for 8 minutes, 46 seconds, under the instruction of black women. A month ago this tableau would have been shocking, but it already felt like just another afternoon in WeHo.

Now there’s this:

Raleigh News-Observer
Tony Webster, Flickr

Is there a limiting principle to statue-cide?  We went from toppling Robert E. Lee to Any Dead President Will Do in a matter of days. From there twas but a small step to Any White Man Will Do. Hans Christian Heg, who fought on the Union side and fell at Chickamauga.    Miguel de Cervantes, enslaved by Barbary pirates. Ulysses S. Grant, bulldozer of the Confederacy.  Inevitably, they now wish to topple Lincoln.

How the decapitators mimic the lynch mobs of yore! The chain around the neck, the sailor-like tugging, the great cheer as the bronze hits the concrete like a felled tree, the dragging and defiling of the corpse…this is the pleasure principle at work, an end unto itself.

Then, because it’s a day ending in Y, the Mayors thank the mob for its thirsts of anger.  White women in D.C. verbally degrade black police officers lined up to protect monuments. In Seattle, white volunteers unironically enforce a “Blacks Only” segregation zone in a public park.  America is now a perpetual Onion story but without the wry chuckle.  Nothing is funny anymore, especially the absurd.  Well, it is, but we are living in the time of You’re Not Allowed To Say So™.

How do we put the brakes on this thing?

Beneath the performative grief and the masochistic religious scenes of white contrition, a dark new normal is upon us: urban police are no longer handcuffing lawbreakers.  Gun crimes? Sure.  But anything short of that is an open question if you are proclaiming fealty to Team BLM. This is not intended to be a passing phase. This is a structural alteration.

What comes after statues?  Take a guess. Think of it as a dress rehearsal.

What is my Los Angeles breaking point?  What would drive me from my city? I don’t yet know.  Well, I sort of do. Kneeling, obviously, would be a red line. Self-denunciation I have pre-decided will not leave my lips.  But those things are easy to resist.  No, the tripwire will arrive sooner, and in a way I will not be prepared for.   What form will it take? This is something I wonder about.

I am blessed not to rely on the good political opinion of others for my income. Mrs. UpintheValley, on the other hand, can be fired at a moment’s notice merely at the insistence of someone tweeting.  I predict she will be asked in this coming school year to affirm the present madness.  One way or another, it will be demanded of her to assent to something she does not believe during a workplace struggle session designed for precisely that purpose. When she demurs, the clock will begin ticking on her employment and a chapter will close in a great teaching career.

The American media is now Radio Rwanda circa 1994: go forth and kill the Tutsis!  We are left with a question: am I a Hutu or a Tutsi?  To which BLM replies, choose wisely. To which social media adds, we can answer that for you.

Dhimmitude

Associated Press

Stop kneeling. Unless you intend to unzip his fly, get off your knees.   This will not satisfy the mob. Genuflecting is only the beginning. But you know that already.  You like the mob.  You agree with BLM. You’re modeling behavior for the rest of us to follow.  You’re putting yourself at the head of the parade.

If contrition is what you wish to express there are a whole lot of business owners in this city, including Van Nuys, you might kneel before. They have no interest in having their fly unzipped, but they’ll settle for a wee bit of law and order.

White Witch

She appeared without warning Thursday morning, like a grieving mother, standing vigil at the Ghost Bike corner. Six years ago, a man was killed on his bicycle at this intersection. It was unusual for a hit and run as it took place in a residential neighborhood at Christmastime. Due to quirks in the street grid, our little enclave is closed to thru traffic, which meant the driver likely either lived here or knew someone who did, and a local mystery was born.

Signs appeared, urging confession, an appeal to conscience, a whisper to authorities.  None came. After a year, the Ghost Bike was removed, and the baleful accusation went away with it.

We assumed the sudden arrival of the witch after so many years heralded a revival of interest in the case. Why else would she be there?  It turns out she was a harbinger of something altogether different.

Yesterday I went to Lowe’s and was greeted by this sign at the freeway offramp. I did some masonry work for a few hours, then poured a beer and settled in front of the TV for this:

The looters assembled at three historic civil rights locations: The Grove, Rodeo Drive, and Melrose Avenue.  Then they went shopping in full view of the police.  Beverly Hills didn’t let them in.  Nordstrom’s was briefly breached at the mall, but private security asserted order.

Melrose, on the other hand, is the City of Los Angeles.   Which means they could steal with impunity.  They started small, with the shoe stores.  Hand items, like sunglasses.  LAPD set up a block away and didn’t move in.   The local news stations circled overhead, beaming endless footage of mobs stepping across broken thresholds and scurrying out with all they could carry. The disembodied voice of Mayor Garcetti played host, murmuring concern as he called into each station to announce an 8 pm curfew the police had no intention of enforcing.   He didn’t dare show his face on TV, and the news anchors didn’t inconvenience him by asking what he intended to do about the breakdown in public order.

Properly incentivized in real-time, looters brazenly pulled up in cars.  They worked in teams.  They moved up to luxury items.  Finally, the Mac store was cleaned out completely while getaway drivers idled out front, trunks open and ready.  This went on for hours.

I can’t tell you how depressing it is at this point in my life to note nearly all the looters in Fairfax were black and gleeful and to hear the tawdry excuses offered for them by the media, as though pigmentation rendered one incapable of moral agency. The sin of looting was not that stealing was wrong, but that it was a distraction. America’s irredeemable racism is non-negotiable. Theft invites disapproving response from white people, who should not be speaking at all right now, only affirming.

If the goal last night was for no black person to be seen in handcuffs, the police could have done business owners a whole lot of good simply posting a uniform in front of each storefront with a camera recording license plates and faces.  They may have been told not to protect, but the least they could do was serve.

But that’s the point. We have entered a new era, haven’t we?  E Pluribus Unum no longer prevails.    The media chooses which groups must submit to the Law and those which are immune. Homeless encampments were the beginning.  Once we carved out a subset of the population to whom the rules did not apply,  our Portlandization was inevitable.

Tonight the looting is widespread. Santa Monica. Long Beach. The White Witch is here.