Do you remember how translators and other locals who worked with and for the U.S. Army in Afghanistan and Iraq, as a matter of course, went -- and still go -- by pseudonyms and otherwise shrouded their true identities because, for certain other locals, to know, know, know them is to kill, kill, kill them?
As it turns out, you don't have to go all the way to southwest Asia or the Middle East to become familiar with the concept.
No, a mere 1,000-mile drive from where I type can give you a homegrown taste of the concept, where contractors bidding to remove Confederate and white-supremacist monuments from the New Orleans public square, so to speak, won't even tell reporters who they are. That comes after the last guy to get the job, a Baton Rouge contractor, pulled out after receiving death threats . . . and after someone torched his luxury sports car.
It also comes after city government in the Big Uneasy was forced to remove a list of interested contractors from its website after the threats started rolling in, vowing at a minimum to put one firm out of business. The owner contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
FROM the New Orleans Times Picayune:
Speaking at an informational meeting held for firms interested in bidding on the removal job, they also raised concerns about diving into such a controversial job.DONALD TRUMP isn't trying to impose fascism on the United States. Donald Trump isn't introducing the specter of violence to the public square or the political arena. And Donald Trump hasn't started a movement to celebrate racism, bigotry and nativism.
One asked city officials whether he would be required to post a sign with his company's name on it at the job sites. Another asked whether his crew could work in the predawn hours, presumably to limit as much public exposure as possible.
Vince Smith, director of Capital Projects Administration, said that the city would work with the winning bidder on a security plan to mitigate any threat. Regarding signage, he said, "Quite frankly, I don't think we are going to make that a requirement," given the ongoing controversy over monument removal.
The city had originally hoped to bypass the traditional public bid process, selecting Baton Rouge firm H&O investments directly from its pool of pre-approved contractors to handle the removal of monuments to Confederates Robert E. Lee, P.G.T. Beauregard and Jefferson Davis. The owner of the company, though, pulled out, saying he had received death threats after his name was associated with the project. A crane operator, though it had not yet been formally hired for the job, also disavowed any involvement.
The contractors at the meeting did not give their names during the discussion, and one, pulled aside after it adjourned, declined to give his name to a reporter. He said that he had driven by the monuments discretely to get a look at their construction, but he didn't want to go too close for fear of being identified by pro-monument hardliners.
The city did not distribute a sign-in sheet at the meeting.
All these things have been popular forever in this country, and nowhere more than in the South and my home state, Louisiana. Merely to have been black in the South -- within living memory, within my memory -- was just about as dangerous as it is to be Christian in Iraq today or be found out as an American collaborator in Afghanistan.
All Trump is doing is summoning forth the demons, because summoning forth America's demons just might get him elected president. God knows that demon-summoning always has been a booming business in Louisiana, where it's always 1959 somewhere. Or maybe 1861.