A Disappearing Act Like No Other
Not long ago, my wife and I saw a play by a small acting group here in south Florida, called “The Camp.” It was about an American regiment pressing towards Berlin at the end of WWII. During a stop in a small German village, they come across a strange area and start to investigate. To their horror, they find a concentration camp, abandoned by the Nazis, but still occupied by dead and starving prisoners. The American captain soon learns that the villagers knew full well what was going on, but turned a blind eye. In the last act, the outraged American captain grabs the village’s mayor and screams at him in rage.
“But,” the mayor protests, “we did nothing! We did nothing!”
Indeed, Mr. Mayor.
Today, in enlightened America, we have a problem. Factions of people are being allowed to go out and commit acts of terror on unsuspecting – and innocent – citizens by using fear and harassment. We’ve seen political figures accosted in restaurants and forced out by mobs chanting obscenities and threats. We’ve seen Antifa members take over the streets of Portland, Oregon, and redirect traffic while interrogating and shouting at motorists who were simply trying to get from point A to point B. One older man had the bad fortune to have a North Carolina license plate. They shouted at him, called him a KKK sympathizer, and started attacking his car because he was from the South. Innocent citizens, trying to go about their daily lives, are being caught in orchestrated webs of fear and torment and it is fueling the already raging inferno of polarization this country is experiencing.
This is not a political column; it never has been. So, this is not about someone’s “side” or who I support, or not support, in the White House. I do not espouse harassment and fear tactics on America’s streets by anyone or for any reason. It is simply wrong. People can justify it all they want (and they have tried to do so in arguments with me) – I don’t care what your agenda is, the tactics are WRONG. Someone tried to convince me that these tactics are acceptable because “this country was founded on violent protest.” If you believe that, then you need to read history. Yes, we fought a war to wrest this country from the clutches of a tyrannical foreign power. I would say the circumstances are very, very different. There is no monarch sitting on his throne across the ocean enriching himself and his crown with our suffering. In fact, we are not suffering. We have our problems – and we always will – and, yes, we have quite a ways to go to fully embrace the edicts of our 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause, but stop it with all the oppression and conspiracy talk. It’s not happening – I’m done with that.
What people – starting with those in law enforcement – should be gravely concerned about is this question: Where is the intervention? Where are the citizens, for example, who believe in “the right thing” and who believe in letting people enjoy a dignified meal without being marched out of a restaurant by a drooling, angry mob who just decided that they run the restaurant? They are absent…invisible. In watching those videos, I keep waiting for the manager to come out and say, “No, no, you’re not doing that in this restaurant, now leave.” Where were they? They stood by and let it happen. In fact, some of the restaurant employees and patrons just quietly took out their phones and recorded the whole thing because, after all, isn’t that what’s important now, getting as many “likes” and “follows” as we can on our Instagram and Facebook accounts?
Just how out of order have we become?
And, then, there is Portland. This one is simply unforgiveable. Where were the police? Oh, that’s right, they had come under fire during a protest incident in August. The ACLU went off on them about how badly they mishandled the use of force. Then, there was the shooting of Patrick Kimmons by Portland Police. So, the mayor pretty much decided that the best way to avoid criticism was not to show up. Hey, what a great idea, mayor. This is actually brilliant and we should all adopt it. My NFL team is struggling of late, but I have a remedy. I’m going to call up Head Coach Adam Gase and say, “Hey, coach, don’t show up for the next game! I guarantee you that your team won’t lose and be subjected to criticism!”
The fact that the mayor of Portland has been replaced by the ACLU (who are obviously running the show) should be somewhat frightening to us. How many more cities will follow this as a precedent? I mean, who cares if an elderly man trying to drive in peace now has $3000 damage to his car because of protestors. He’s just one guy. He’s collateral damage. This country was founded on violent protest, dammit! Until it’s their uncle or grandpa. Then, they’ll be shouting from the mountaintops about how the police aren’t doing their jobs to protect the public.
Is this the wave of the future in police work? When special interest groups and political factions run amuck in the streets and terrorize innocent people, should we do a David Copperfield and vanish? God forbid we have to write up a few use-of-force incidents and get bad press!
Allowing this to happen is watering the seeds of fascism, the very specter many of these groups claim they are trying to stamp out. If my family is stopped at intersections and interrogated by mobs of angry protestors, and they are evaluated and condemned because of the way they look, or the type of license plate on their car, we are in a world of s#*t, my friends.
Many years from now, when it’s too late, when our children and grandchildren point an accusing finger at us, we had better not say, “We did nothing!”
Ramesh Nyberg retired from law enforcement in November 2006 after 27 years in police work. He now owns his own private investigation agency, Nyberg Security and Investigations, and can be reached at Ramesh@NybergPi.com. He enjoys getting feedback from readers.