President Trump wants to send federal officers to more cities besides Portland, now that he’s found out how much it stirs them up. He named Chicago, Kansas City and Albuquerque a couple of days ago. That got me to thinking about Seattle’s first name, New York Alki (New York Bye and Bye).
How sick were the Denny Party, to look around themselves at Alki Point and think, “You know what this place needs? A metropolis. Right here on this beach.”
Maybe a resort hotel would have been appropriate. A nice, fancy one that would be popular with visiting New Yorkers and Europeans and other such foreigners, with a swanky cafe and restaurant behind a colonnade, looking out over the bay and Puget Sound. The visitors could sun on the beach, watch the natives catch fish and dig up clams; then they could go back where they came from, their “New York” or their “Europe.”
I was opposed to the whole Century 21 Exposition idea. Why should a beautiful town like Seattle have a world’s fair? I know why the promoters wanted it. They wanted to dredge that New York Alki concept back up and give it new life, so we could grow skyscrapers. Which we did. Big whoop. Hundreds of square miles of floor space and nowhere to live.
I have never thought it was a good idea for Seattle to become New York someday. We don’t need to be New York. We don’t even need to be Portland. Or Chicago, Kansas City or Albuquerque. Or Tacoma, for that matter. They could have built the Columbia Tower in Tacoma and it wouldn’t have bothered me one bit. If they pay the shipping and handling, they can have it right now, and leave us with another hole in the ground.
According to the latest news, federal officers are already arriving in Seattle by plane. Do you see what’s happened? If we had never had the Seattle World’s Fair and had all those skyscrapers built, do you think DHS officers would be flying here right now? They wouldn’t be bothering. They’d be thinking, “Seattle? Where’s that? Is that near Sedro Woolley? Well, we don’t have time for little out-of-the-way towns like that.”
It’s all because of the world’s fair, and that Space Needle, telling everyone where we are. “Look for the stupid tower built just for one restaurant and to provide a way for people to pay to get high and not enjoy it.”
Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf has reportedly told the Seattle mayor not to worry — these arriving officers aren’t coming here to engage with protesters like the ones in Portland. Which raises the question: So then why are they here? To shop at Nordstrom? To check out the fish ladder and observation room at the Ballard Locks? To enjoy a symphony? To give us all pedicures?
It stands to reason that they are here to exercise their unique talents. They are people-people, skilled at persuasion and gifted at compelling physical communication.
One thought I had was that they might persuade Seattle’s schools to reopen this fall. Trump says they should reopen, but the school district is talking about not. So, the school district definitely needs some persuading. Then when the school district is persuaded, the teachers will probably need some persuading. Then when September comes, Homeland Security officers can bust in doors all around the city and persuasively relocate all the children to classrooms, tidily where Trump wants them.
Or maybe instead of engaging with protesters at protests, they’ll just cut to the chase and identify all the regular protesters and disappear them proactively. That would be the next level of escalation after Portland. That’s if the goal is to get as Pinochet-ish as possible in the shortest period of time.
No, I don’t think any of those things are going to happen. I think Chad is simply lying. I think the strategy is to use DHS officers to provoke and outrage protesters, and thereby escalate conflict in the city, so that Trump and his supporters can then turn around and blame our city and state elected officials for any resulting violence, to help Trump shore up his support in Red States. To help Trump win reelection in November. And put off for four more years the need to declare himself dictator for life, rather than be a private citizen subject to arrest again.
There’s plenty of time for Trump to get full-on Pinochet after the election.
Dr. Wes Browning is a one time math professor who has experienced homelessness several times. He supplied the art for the first cover of Real Change in November of 1994 and has been involved with the organization ever since. This is his weekly column, Adventures in Irony, a dry verbal romp of the absurd. He can be reached at drwes (at) realchangenews (dot) org
Read more in the July 29 - Aug. 4, 2020 issue.