“As President Donald Trump ramps up his hard-line rhetoric against protesters, The Department of Homeland Security said Wednesday it is launching rapid deployment teams to federal monuments over the Fourth of July weekend.” — ABC News
“In an internal email obtained by The Washington Post, U.S. Marshals Service assistant director Andrew C. Smith said: ‘This is a challenging assignment due to the breadth of possible targets for criminal activity.’” — Newsweek
It is hard to believe that, in 2020, in the midst of a pandemic, and with both protestors and police officers being injured in American rioting, the focus of the president would turn to the need to protect inanimate statues of historical figures, and that resources ranging from the U.S. Marshals to the Department of Homeland Security to the U.S. Secret Service would be dedicated to protecting statues of dead men.
You can only imagine what it must be like to join a national force to serve and protect your fellow citizens, and then be tasked with protecting a statue.
I am in Sparks, Nevada, now, as part of the rapid deployment monument team. We received our orders and moved out in a hurry, and now I’m across the street and in under the trees in the park on Victorian Avenue, the only clear line of sight at the monument our team has been designated to protect.
Last Chance Joe is a one-toothed, 32-foot-tall, chicken-wire miner coated with papier mache and then a sealer coat. He used to stand outside the Nugget Casino as the official mascot. Now, he’s in front of the Sparks Museum, after being refurbished, a well-loved piece of Sparks history.
Why Sparks, and why Last Chance Joe? Well, as the assistant director said, there are many possible targets, and Joe has been targeted before. There was clear evidence someone had tried to light him on fire in 2017, damaging him, and, because of that, our threats analysis team identified him as a likely target. He’s had hard times: the left half of his face fell off in the winter storms of 1993, and had to be rebuilt. But with good luck, care and diligence, I’m sure we can keep him safe now …
Love as always, and can’t wait to get home,
It is hard to believe, really. There is so much that needs to be addressed in the United States right now: an ever-growing, ever-spreading COVID-19 pandemic that’s reached the point that Arizona has activated its Crisis Standards of Care plan. That plan outlines, in the case of hospital and ICU overloads, which patients are to be essentially left untreated to make room for others. And that’s just Arizona.
By the end of the week, the U.S. was facing 50,000 new cases of COVID-19 every day, and scores of states were showing rapid increases — while a block of the population is near violence about the idea they should have to take as simple a precaution as wearing a mask.
When you think statues are more important that people’s lives, you’ve got a problem.
An early reopening — done to try and mitigate the economic collapse pandemic closures caused, but launched before the curve of virus infections came close to flattening — has made the United States far and away the poster child of pandemic failure.
Riots have rocked major cities for weeks as a result of police treatment of minorities — potentially spreading the pandemic further — and on top of that, Donald Trump is currently embroiled in questions about whether he failed to act when there was evidence that Russian spy services were paying Afghan rebels a bounty to kill American and coalition troops in Afghanistan.
All this, and the president
goes out of his way to sign an executive order focusing on the safety of statues, and designating valuable resources for their protection?
This is not four-dimensional chess strategy. This is the knee-jerk checkers game of a preschooler.
When you think statues are more important than people’s lives, you’ve got a problem.
Forget the statues.
How about focusing on the safety of Americans instead?
Russell Wangersky’s column appears in SaltWire newspapers and websites across Atlantic Canada. He can be reached at email@example.com — Twitter: @wangersky.