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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Home Sweet Home

When I lived in D.C. I had issues with the yellow tapes and other means that the police liked to use to rope off areas that were otherwise clearly open to view. I don't mean a crime scene like a murder, which I don't remember ever seeing, and anyway they would've had no trouble with me wanting to get a peep of anything like that. Instead I mean places downtown, on the Mall and elsewhere, covering large areas and usually barring access to a scene where there had supposedly been an incident, such as those involving protestors, or to create a force field around a celebrity of some kind or a member of Congress. Instead of being protective measures, I always took those barriers to be purely expressions of self-importance by the police, and indeed, if you have tendencies in that direction, there's no better profession to enter. Meanwhile I never saw anyone doing anything in particular to justify all that exclusion. The privileged people inside the tapes would usually be doing nothing at all except standing around.

At first I used to have regrets, knowing that I would never be important enough to be allowed inside the yellow tapes, at least long enough to get a hint of what was going on, but it doesn't take long to figure out that the things that the authorities guard so zealously against the public seldom amount to much.

There may be lots of people in Texas with similar feelings right now. I mean those residents of places like Galveston and Houston who heeded the authorities' advice and fled their homes in advance of Hurricane Rita, and joined 2.5 million others in a nightmarish exodus by auto.

I remember a Maryland political campaign of long ago in which the battle cry was a fiercely enunciated "A man's home is his castle!" I don't exactly recall why this slogan fanned so many flames, but I think it involved one of the many ways that were tried to ward off Civil Rights. I'm certain, however, that it is a sentiment as deeply held today by Texans and everyone else as it was in the Free State in the 1960's.

So it seems to me that Galvestonians and Houstonians have suffered a triple wrenching, and all more at the hands of the authorities than from the storm itself. The first was being ordered to leave their castles to the vagaries of the storm. The second was finding themselves snared in a monumental, heat-wracked traffic jam that for some lasted for 24 hours or more, to the point where a number of the fleeing Houstonians decided to ignore the experts and the authorities, and they turned around and drove back home, without incident. Having again been sitting comfortably and safely esconsed in their dwellings for two or three days now, they wait for their more obedient neighbors to eventually find their way back, too, and say, with a surprising lack of reluctance and a large amount of envy: "Now weren't you smart!"

That reflects on the third wrenching experience, which is happening now to those who didn't turn around. After hearing that, aside from a fire or two, their towns weren't drastically affected, the Houston-Galveston evacuees still stuck in parts elsewhere might see no reason why they, too can't return to their beloved domiciles whenever they please, which is right away. But they are told to stay put till everything is in readiness for their return, which will not be for days yet, or until such time as the stony mayors and the equally stiff, grim-faced men with the guns and the yellow tapes stir themselves enough to give the okay. The eager and anxious exiled residents might not regard this delay as necessary for the protection of themselves and their property. They might instead see it as just official self-importance, and later those officials might not find themselves as showered with gratitude as they would've expected.

But don't mind me. I'm just conjecturing, while wondering how much I know about human nature.


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