Saturday, November 5, 2011

Feeding the Crocodile

Winston Churchill said, “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.” Perhaps, where the various occupy movements are concerned we have met that crocodile.

Last week, the mayor of Oakland gave city employees the day off to participate in the “Occupy” rallies. In return, she got a riot. Property damage, injuries, the Port of Oakland shut down. The only city employees not granted the opportunity to bite the hand that gorges? The police.

What was she thinking? Maybe, to quote Young Frankenstein’s Inspector Kemp, “A riot is an ugly thing. And it’s just about time we had one!” Maybe she figured to get out ahead, to appear hip and fashionable when the inevitable happened. Who knows.

Imagine yourself a police officer, on duty as a part of a team charged with protecting your city from the inevitable outcome of an out-of-control mob. Imagine further that portions of the horde throwing things at you are fellow city employees. You know some officers are going to be injured;

even with modern protective gear a brick to the face still knocks you on your ass, rings your bell and maybe whacks out a couple of teeth. Arresting someone who actively resists is nothing less than a brawl. Everyone gets hurt in a brawl. God help you if some jerk with a smartphone catches a video of a baton strike, too. Not just departmental discipline awaits, but perhaps prison.

How many cops were injured, and how seriously? How the hell do I know. I googled “police injuries, occupy Oakland” and got a string of stories about two protesters who were injured. So I read the Oakland Tribune story and…. I got more information on the protesters who were injured and a lot of citizen commentary about police brutality. Oh – not entirely true. One occupy clown in Portland said the cops in his town had a terrified look in their eyes, just as he had “the first time I went to prison.”

In the meantime, signs in the windows of businesses in Oakland proclaiming support for the “99%” didn’t prevent their peaceful brothers and sisters from throwing things through the glass. A riot is an ugly thing, and once they get going the reasons for the protest – justified or not – fade into an orgy of violence, destruction and injury. Add in a dose of anarchists, often violent simply for its own sake, and the disaster recipe is there for all the world to see.

I have no quarrel with the feeling among protesters and observers alike that something is grotesquely wrong with the direction of our country. Among other things, spectacularly risky, speculative “investment” instruments made a lot of money for people who ultimately stuck American taxpayers with the bill. My wife and I sunk a lot of money into a house that ended up costing us almost one hundred thousand dollars – not in lost equity growth; one third of the purchase price of our house simply vanished. Why? Any real answers have become subordinate to the political points to be made by professional – read chameleon - politicians intent on keeping their jobs, or getting better ones.

Meanwhile, the crocodile has become a patchwork of true believers, thugs and party-crashers. What can we give them so they’ll contentedly go home? Perhaps, to paraphrase a NASCAR axiom, they’ll demand and be granted “all the money you have, and all the money you can git.” Stuffed, the pet reptile will slither away until it rouses itself for another meal, the bill paid by those of us foolish enough to think education, hard work and sacrifice are virtues. Then, another line of cops in another city will stand their ground. Vile people will throw bricks and stones and bags of shit at human beings ordered to do a job by a mayor proclaiming solidarity with the rioters. Meanwhile, paramedics cart the faceless, uncounted, publically anonymous police officers from the scene to be treated for unappreciated, sometimes career-ending injuries.

One of them could be me, or one of my friends. Maybe all of us. Who takes care of our families if we can’t work anymore? The 99%? Anyone who believes that is a bit delusional. At some point, the crocodile will come for them.


  1. Wanted to add that your post was very well-written, Jim.

  2. Thanks, Patricia, as always. Just trying to raise a little awareness.

  3. This side needs to be seen more, Jim. The media is so in love with this movement it turns a blind eye on what it is costing the business owners and the average person. When we had the Rodney King riots in LA, I remember in Koreatown the shop owners stood on the stop of their roofs with automatic rifles. People protested about that. Hey, if you had people rushing your home to steal your belongings, you'd want to protect it too. That was a scary time. We had a 10 pm curfew across LA, and it seemed like the world had gone mad. Now, the media feeds and celebrates this behavior. For shame!

  4. Thank you so much - your comment truly made my day. Yeah, I'll bet it's hard to accept the theory of a protest when a thousand people are destroying everything you've spent a lifetime working for.