Hooligans on the Hill
Freedom isn’t free, and the price you pay for freedom nowadays is more inconvenience, Personal searches and invasions of your privacy.
I like to hold out hope that there’s at least one decent lawmaker or public servant on Capitol Hill who still abides by the spirit of the Charters of Freedom.
(Photo illustration by Stacey Warde)
Hooligans on the Hill
Cops everywhere and not a crook in sight
By Stacey Warde
In Washington, D.C. last month I expected to see hooligans on every corner. What I saw, instead, were cops stationed at intersections, on sidewalks, on the Capitol Building steps and on the White House rooftop. In fact, cops stood on every corner.
Aside from observing how fetching and easy these targets would be for a sniper, I reasoned that all the hooligans must be inside somewhere, protected by the heavily armed and uniformed police presence.
Capitol Police and security guards were everywhere, and not a criminal in sight.
Not that it made me feel any safer. While crossing an access street to the Capitol Building from Pennsylvania Avenue, for example, Amber and I were forced to dodge a jeep that swerved into the crosswalk we occupied as it attempted to pass slow-moving traffic on the right.
A squad car with patrolman sat parked at the opposite end of the crosswalk, under some trees, right where the jeep had to turn back into the slow lane to avoid crashing into the parked squad car. We waited for the patrolman to turn on his lights and make quick pursuit. Yet, he stayed put, not moving an inch.
Cop must have better things to do, I reasoned, like ensuring our lawmakers can safely pursue pageboys, like protecting treasonous politicians who vote to eliminate habeas corpus from the law books, or maybe he was just too busy reading a comic book.
In any event, I learned quickly that, as far as law enforcement goes, you’re pretty much on your own in D.C.
Getting around the Hill was easy, though, and taverns like the “Hawk and Dove,” and “Capitol Hill Lounge” were welcoming and eager to serve drinks. The best thing about them was we could walk through the doors without being molested and frisked by screeners with wands from the Department of Homeland Security.
Every entrance to federal buildings, however, required visitors to unload their pockets, remove belts and buckles, shoes, wallets, purses, anything that might trigger the alarm at each screening station before entering the building. The security personnel, weary of hearing themselves speak, bark their orders: “Step this way! Remove your shoes! Take off your hat!”
Going to see our government officials, I observed, is much less dignified than walking into the local tavern for a shot of whiskey and a beer, where the only thing they want to see is your money.
Freedom isn’t free, and the price you pay for freedom nowadays is more inconvenience, personal searches and invasions of your privacy.
Nonetheless, I felt it worthwhile to brave the undignified search of my person to visit several federal buildings like the Library of Congress and the National Archives, where you can find vestiges of the things that once made the United States a dignified nation.
While standing in line to enter the National Archives, where the “quaint” Constitution of the United States and other documents like the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights rest protected from hooligans and the ravages of time, I turned to see a man behind me with a four-inch tall tattoo around the front of his neck, the kind you see on ex-cons. Maybe this guy’s a hooligan, I wondered, definitely not a Washington politician.
I didn’t want him to think I was giving him “the stare,” so I snuck a prolonged peek at the fresh tattoo, being careful not to stir the pot, or upset the guy’s sense of pride. In the same deep black stylistic Copperplate lettering used to pen the original Constitution of the United States, carefully woven from ear to ear around his throat, were the words: “We the People.”
“I got it just for this trip,” he said smiling, his head held high. The dark letters around his throat were ringed with fiery red skin inflamed from the recent touch of a tattoo artist’s hand. His pregnant wife stood by his side, beaming; their young daughter clambered beside them, eager to get inside, past the screeners for a peek at their nation’s—and perhaps’ the world’s—greatest testaments to human freedom.
“That’s great,” I croaked with a smile, awed by his commitment, but left wondering what kind of person would do something like that. He seemed happy, and eager to see the original, “We the People.”
“Goddamn, that’s some balls,” I thought to myself as I turned to face the security screeners and looked down at my own lame political statement, attributed to Thomas Jefferson, printed across my T-shirt: “Dissent is the best form of patriotism.”
After another exasperating search and security screening before viewing the “Charters of Freedom” in the rotunda, I realized the hooligans on the Hill were most likely ensconced in their offices within the protected interiors of these very same and similar federal buildings, where visitors are seldom allowed, except by appointment.
I knew the hooligans were here in D.C. because I’d been reading about them in the newspapers. And on the street, at home and among friends, I know that crooks occupy our highest offices because the general consensus goes something like this: “We oughta horsewhip those bastards, every last one of them, and run them out of office. They’re ALL crooks.”
I like to hold out hope that there’s at least one decent lawmaker or public servant on Capitol Hill who still abides by the spirit of the Charters of Freedom, even if they have become so faded that you can barely read them—and have, through the current administration’s malignant treatment of them, become almost “quaint,” as Attorney General Alberto Gonzales so nicely put it. I like to think there’s at least one person in our nation’s highest offices who sincerely believes that his or her job is to promote the “general Welfare,” not just the interests of the wealthy, and whose task is to help “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,” not just for the privileged few.
And I would agree that any public servant who fails to do these things ought to be horsewhipped and run out of office. We the People have had enough of hooligans on the Hill. §
Stacey Warde is editor of The Rogue Voice. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.