Three police officers, shot down. One, just vacuuming his car. I saw the video, the reenactment. The shooter, an ex-Marine, hides behind the corner of a convenience store at a gas station, peeks out, eyes his target, an expert marksman, takes them down.
What is this?
At first you think, Oh, another reverse racism thing, Race in America, the unsolved puzzle, the ultimate in displacement, the psychological defense, placing one's negativity, anger, on someone, something else. If I come home angry and slam a door, or kick the dog, my anger is now in the door, it is the dog's problem. I feel better, momentarily
An immature defense, and too simple an explanation for recent murders in Dallas, five policemen were killed, nine injured, and now . . . more dead in Baton Rouge.
But this massacre is different; one of the policemen, one of the victims is not white, his skin tone is closer to black, so there must be some mistake.
The perpetrator, Gavin Eugene Long, reached 29 short years of age yesterday, the day of the shooting, a birthday, death-day celebration. He self-identifies as Cosmo Setepenra on YouTube, an author of three self-published books, a life coach, and the leader of an extremist group, the Sovereign Citizens.
Protests are not enough, preached Cosmo. Violence is what is called for in the struggle against the government of these United States, a war against the police. He thought the violence in Dallas a good first step.
To me, first glance, this is a man in a florid manic episode, full-blown, psychotic and narcissistic, a person whose reality testing has likely been compromised by mental illness. His words:
If anything happens to me is a reference to his suicide-homicide. Youtube took down his videos, but they're nested in the link above.
An ex-Marine, he had military training. This would be an asset, should one become paranoid, want to take a society, even one with democratic ideals, down.
A therapist would maybe say, "They are only ideals, the government is the means to realize them. It may another two hundred twenty years to create a perfect society. Let's strive for better. How can you make it better? Let's talk about your ideals."
But most probably Cosmo needed another kind of doctor, too, one to give him something that would help him sleep a little, take off that trigger-happy edge.
|Fire Works, Evanston, IL|
But first, a story.
Always a fireworks fan, the Fourth of July has become a bit much the past few years. Alley displays are out of control, fire crackers and rockets explode throughout the night, usually a lovely summer night in Chicago.
You want to keep the windows open. The dog covers his ears with his paws and moans.
But watching the faces of the children at an authorized beachfront festival is irresistible, and the music, so,patriotic, upbeat. This year my grandson invited us to join him and his parents to see fireworks. FD suggested we skip the crowd, watch from the top level of the hospital garage near the lake. Perfect for me.
We hadn't counted on security chasing us away.
As an alternative, FD drove us as close as he could to the beachfront, dropped us off a few blocks from the action. We would be in the thick of things (the child among us wanted to do this, anyway, hadn't particularly liked the garage rooftop).
Every street to the Evanston, Illinois beach cordoned off, saw-horses blocking traffic, blinking red, pink beams flashing from flashlights. No vehicle entry to the lake.
You don't think, Well, a truck could plow through that.
But now you do.
When I told a friend that it hadn't been my first choice, going to see fireworks where hundreds of people would be gathering, a jihadist's dream location, and a symbolic gesture, too, this being a national holiday, she told me,
"You can't stop living. That means they won!"I thought that ironic. They stop others from living.
He aimed at crowds watching fireworks and sent 'bodies flying like bowling pins', left others 'jammed' under the lorry's wheels.
Bouhlel, 31 . . . was depressed about the break up of his marriage . . . upset in recent months as their divorce finalised.
What could have been done to stop this? He told police that he was delivering ice cream to the beach, so they let him park the refrigerated vehicle over night. They didn't bother to ask for a sample, we suppose. That might have changed everything.
Authorities had him days before that. French police intervened as he threw a heavy board at a motorist during a traffic altercation. He had priors for theft and violence.
Mental health professionals had him, too, the ones treating those nervous breakdowns, and his family knew he could be violent, the potential was there.
Nobody reeled him in, however, when it mattered, when that divorce went through.
Sometimes these things aren't as complicated as they seem.
Great, but what's a professional to do? And law enforcement can't deprive citizens of their rights. We've all watched Law and Order.
It becomes what might each contact have done, each person who comes into contact with a Mohammed Bouhliel, or a Gavin Long.
What would I have done, had the Bastille Day terrorist in Nice come to see me? We'd have talked about that marriage, and his anger.
Gavin Eugene Long wouldn't see a mental health professional. He would be the problem of his commanding officer, and likely a military wildcard. But he had a commander, once, who might have picked up on that mania, had he a bit more training.
And we haven't even talked about Bowe Bergdahl, a very different story, an American soldier who walked off his post in Afghanistan, only to be captured by the Taliban and released in exchange for five Taliban leaders in Guantanamo Bay.
(Spoiler alert, if you haven't listened to the podcast, Serial).
What possessed Bowe to walk off, we want to know, ultimately costing the world, not only the US, perhaps hundreds of lives in the future? Do Taliban leaders return home and take up knitting?
Bowe had schizotypal disorder, we learn on that second season of Serial, and should never have been in combat. He had been diagnosed, then sent off to war, couldn't take camp, and the hypocrisy of command. Took off.
I don't care what anyone says. Next year, I'm staying home.