You know that feeling when somebody’s trying to get under your skin? Push your buttons? Get your goat? If they’re really good at it, even though you know they’re doing it, you have to make an effort not to fall for it, or you’ll see red and nothing else, so they can take you out with just one punch.
I have that feeling now. I get it, on the one hand, from how the cops worldwide are treating citizens, with a bald brutality, and in-your-face (in-everybody’s-face) unfairness, that seem meant notso much to intimidate as to provoke. Those watching, and recording, say, German cops assaulting elderly protestors half their size, and Australian cops pepper-spraying children, and Irish cops violently kidnapping, snatching from his bed, and handcuffing, with his hands behind his back, a convalescent man just home from surgery (he’d gone to Turkey for the operation), and all the other, similar outrages now going viral, seem not intimidated but enraged by what happened right before their eyes. I should add that those ostentatious shows of needless force are coming at us not from Pakistan or China but from places where the people don’t expect that kind of thing from their police.
For an especially notable example of what looks (at least to me) like a completely choreographed mass provocation by police, check out this video from Melbourne, where riot cops (ostensibly) fired rubber bullets on a multitude of protesters. Specifically, check out how slick it looks, how artful the montage, how stirring the score(!), and, therefore, how histrionic those protesters look like (if they are protesters),
the whole scene shimmering with much the same romantic glow that we remember from productions of Les Miz, as if its purpose is to egg us on.
And then there’s the collapse (if we can really call it that) of Kabul, which appears (to me at least) to have been calculated, or depicted, to incite the maximum amount of patriotic fury here at home: desperate Afghans clinging to the helicopter struts of US aircraft taking off (the same humiliating spectacle that we, or some of us, remember from Saigon in 1975), and those gleeful Taliban snatching up “our” military hardware, rounding up (and torturing?) collaborators, beating up Americans (or so we’ve heard), and otherwise taking a great big Islamic-fundamentalist dump on Old Glory and the sacrificial spirit of “our troops”—and not just in the “war on terror,” but even in the one where We Beat Hitler:
So is it just me, or does that all seem rather artfully contrived to make us even madder than we were before this week? God knows we have every right to be enraged by what They’re done to us, and every obligation to seek justice for it; so let’s be careful not to let Them push our buttons now, making us too mad for our own good.