Friday, December 9, 2016

A Dark Corner of the American Experiment

When Jay Landsman, the hard bitten Baltimore police detective, delivers the eulogy for a fellow cop at a Baltimore bar, he displays for possibly the only time in the five seasons of "The Wire" real emotion about what doing the work of a policeman means to the fraternity of police.
Jay Landsman, Baltimore PO lice

He says they all live and work in a "dark corner of the American Experiment," and while he acknowledges none of the cops present are always good cops, seldom good husbands, often slobs, frequently cruel, perpetually angry, dangerously explosive, they answer the call to duty and that is all that can be asked of any "PO-lice."

Nobody following the recent trials of the Baltimore police accused of murdering citizens in their custody,  who watched "The Wire," has any real doubt about what happened in those real life instances. We know that world from "The Wire."

What you see of police is men (and women) who enjoy, nay relish the license to beat up people, who see themselves as victims, who go about their work without remorse, without sympathy, but with cold blooded determination.

I'm re-watching "The Wire" to remind me of what at least half of America is really like.
There is not a single character in any of the five seasons of this American masterpiece who would have even considered voting for anyone but Donald Trump, if they bothered to vote at all.
And when you see their world, it all makes sense.
In fact, Trump seems inevitable, when you see the world through the lenses of "The Wire."

Hillary and those who supported her are from "The County" which is the phrase city people in Baltimore  use to mean anyone not living in the city itself, the affluent suburbs of the city, the people who send their kids to Gilman School, who live in what Bubbles once described as "Heaven."
There are even occasional references to places in Maryland where the government is "whistle clean." City people laugh when they say, "What do you think, this is some sort of Bethesda?"
A woman, sitting on the stoop of her row house tells Cutty, who has just been released from prison and is searching for his old girlfriend, the girlfriend now has a job with the city, teaching inner city kids to "talk all Condeleeza" and she has a upscale car, upscale clothes and looks down her "county nose" as "us city niggers."
In a few sentences she crystallizes what the other half thinks of those who have made it.
Clinton Land

Nothing Donald Trump has said in public, not his remarks about Meghan Kelly, not his taunts about Mexican rapists not his references to Muslims, seems even off color in the context of the way people in "The Wire" speak.

When I moved to New Hampshire, I was struck by how rarely people, even men talking among themselves, use profanities. We live in a polite society up here. We get offended by four letter words, references to genitalia. Not so in much of the rest of the country.

Trump's election will be analyzed, studied, explained by people who work in offices in front of computer screens at Harvard, but for me, all this amounts to is a revolt of the underclass. That's what Bernie appealed to, and nobody (enough) in the Democratic party listened to him--Debbie Wasserman Schultz and all her friends regarded him as an eccentric crank. But the hoi polloi, the lumpen proletariat, the unwashed masses, the people from "Making of a Murderer" and "The Wire," they rose up.
It wasn't a dark corner of the American experiment, it was the wet and raw underbelly of the American experience voting for someone who never grew up like them, but who could speak their language.
Trump Land

Which is why it is so anomalous New Hampshire occupies such an outsized place in the Presidential selection process. We are a sort of Hobbit Shire, a place more of the 1950's than the 21st century. For us, Trump "coarsened" public discourse.

For Baltimore and for much of the rest of the country, he did not even offend.

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