Will Protesters Greet Kids Here? Probably. But That Doesn't Have to Mean Disaster.
Wikipedia Commons There are some pretty horrible scripts out there for these scenes. Let's hope we don't follow one.
Let's say the kids do come. What does that look like on Day 1? Crazy? Or not? It's all about anger management.
Dallas County Commissioners Court Judge Clay Jenkins, with backing from all but one of his fellow commissioners, has vowed Dallas will take responsibility for as many as 2,000 unaccompanied Central American migrant children to be housed in local shelters to be established for the purpose.
Assuming they can't be spirited into a shelter before anybody knows they're here, assuming they come in buses during daylight hours, will the children arrive to a wild protest scene like the one that greeted busloads of immigrants last week in Murietta, California?
It's still not clear to me exactly how the protesters in Murietta stopped the buses. I have looked at raw video on different sites, and I don't see any concerted police presence to guarantee safe passage of the buses. So, sure, if there are no cops to stop you, you just go stand in front of the bus. It won't be that easy here.
Will there be people in Dallas who are angry about the arrival of the child refugees? Yes. Is that a legitimate response? Yes. I disagree with it. Maybe you do, too. But immigration is a tough issue, made tougher by the abject failure of Washington to fix it ,and people on all sides have a right to be angry.
If people want to protest the arrival, do they have to do it in the street? Yes. This is America. The street is where we go, almost reflexively, to express vociferous dissent. If memory serves, it's why we're not still ruled by England.
Because stop-the-buses is already a media meme, some kind of protest is inevitable, whether anybody likes it or not. These things do tend to follow scripts. Let's just hope this one doesn't borrow from the script of the American civil rights movement, where the meme was burn-the-buses.
Should protest be carried out somewhere far from the children? That's not how protest works. Protest in a government-prescribed dissent zone is not protest. It's some kind of weird 1984 police-state thought-control. Protest is only protest when it's right in the big bull's eye, the focal hot zone where every eye is turned already. It's pretty much the whole point.
If the kids do come here, we will see a strong police presence to guarantee safe passage. There will be a cordon. People can be on opposite sides of that cordon, mad as hell at each other about the issue, without messing with the police. Messing with the police is the litmus, the red-flag indicator that the angerholics are trying to take it over.
And there is the underlying psychological and moral line: Most people come to a protest motivated by their anger over an issue, but some come for the anger party. They were angry when they woke up. It's not about the issue. Who knows what it's about? Something way back, maybe psychological. They show up to get in some licks, because they want to get in some licks.
So much of our politics seems to be hijacked by the angerholics these days. They can't ever say what's making their eyeballs bulge or their faces beet-red, can't spit it out. After a while, their inability to express complete sentences, let alone logical thoughts, makes us suspect that political issues are not really what drives them.
It's fine to say the police should be cool and professional no matter what's going on around them. When somebody says something like that to me, I always want to say, "Good thought. Now snap on your helmet and return to your planet of origin."
Cops are people. Their ability to resist provocation depends on which cops you're talking about, how they were trained, how they are deployed and managed in the field. Some never go for the bait. Others look for it.
Look, it's not right, reasonable or realistic to insist that everybody stay home. Some people on both sides of the immigrant kids question -- keep 'em out or bring 'em on -- will not want to stay home. If the opportunity is right, they will show up. There is no law that says they can't get mad at each other and engage in angry debate across the lines.
The key, the thing for everybody to watch, the alarm bell that means things are about to go dark, is messing with the cops. I just don't believe that people drawn to a protest by legitimate issues will mess with the cops. The ones who will do that are the other type, the anger-heads.
It's enough just to know that. It's enough to see the line and stay on the right side of it yourself. The anger-heads don't want to fight the cops by themselves. They're going for the melee, the general riot where anything goes, and for that they need the rest of us. Why would we do that?