scaring us to keep us in line

We just returned home from an art opening at the Whitney at Altria, across the street from Grand Central Station on Park Avenue.

As we left the reception at 9 pm we were shocked to see several NYC police vans disgorging a number of SWAT cops (with flack jackets and huge automatic rifles). Moments later we were inside the subway station where we found "camouflaged" national guardsmen on alert throughout the concorse, stationed rigidly at ten foot intervals from each other, also handling automatic rifles and looking anything but relaxed. I mean, there was a lot of armor on the east end of 42nd Street tonight! Thousands of people passed these warriors on their way to the trains, and no one seemed to notice the honor guard.

As I write this no information is available on the internet which would suggest anything out of the ordinary was happening tonight. No one but Barry and I ever seem to see these creatures, these horrific scenes, and no one but Barry and I ever seem to be disturbed by their significance.

Why is it that we as New Yorkers, if not just as Americans, can be made to pay every cent of the cost of our own military occupation while we have no say about its necessity or its nature? This is a subjugation which exists at the whim of some vague higher authority not accountable even to the citizenry of the nation. Whether as New Yorkers or as Americans, we are not given an adequate reason either for its presence or for the fluctuating burden of its insult. In fact we are not even told it is there, as is attested by the otherwise inexplicable ignorance of my neighbors on the subject.

In the case of the specific shock and awe of this evening's "alert," could it be simply the consequence of our once again becoming too relaxed for the good of those at the helm of the state, too inadequate to the need of the fascists in Washington to continually remind us of the absolute necessity of their regime?

Apparently we will never know. No one is really asking the question, and the American media least of all.

And yet. As we passed by the huge windows of the gallery we had just left, on our way to the subway, a large number of the young artists and friends of artists who were still inside the space were literally pressing their noses to the glass in their astonishment at the horrible paramilitary scene outside to which they found themselves witness. Are we finally paying attention? Maybe we will wake up in time.

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Published on April 15, 2003 10:12 PM.

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