Like the woman who was never President, it is necessary for the proprietor of this website to have a public and a private position on many issues. There are three primary reasons for this. The first, of course, is that there is a little gang out there with a (not-quite-as-)secret(-as-they-think-it-is) Facebook group trying mightily to parse every single thing I write into reasonable grounds for termination. This task, while daunting, is at least possible in the right conditions, whereas the alternative path, which would involve being better at my job than I am and therefore rendering me superflous, is impossible for people of their pathetic capabilities.
The second reason is that I have no wish to oppress my readers with too much blatant opinion-giving on political topics. My liberal readers wouldn’t like my opinion on social issues; my conservative readers wouldn’t like how I feel on issues like tariffs, unionization, and economic justice. No matter who you are, I guarantee you we disagree on something. Heck, I can think of a half-dozen issues on which Brother Bark and I are probably on opposite sides of the bench.
Last and not in any way least, there’s what I call my privilege of isolation. I’ve chosen to live in a place where protests/riots/whatever simply don’t happen and likely never will happen, largely because most of my neighbors would see such an occasion as a fine opportunity for a turkey shoot. (Here at Riverside Green, of course, we own nothing more frightening than a solid array of airsoft pistols, one Crossman BB gun, and the King James Bible.) Those of you who follow the news will be very aware of a recent incident in which a Columbus, Ohio police officer shot a young woman who was yelling “I’m going to stab the fuck out of you bitch,” as she attempted to, uh, stab the fuck out of another young woman. Although I live twenty miles from the event, there has been zero impact here. No marches, no looting, no fiery but peaceful protesting. Therefore, I like to defer commentary on this stuff to people who have skin in the game, so to speak.
One of those people with skin in the game is the writer of the “Up In The Valley” blog. I had dinner with him in Van Nuys on Tuesday the 13th, before the Floyd verdict and the Ma’Khia Bryant stabbing/shooting. We discussed the future of America; I view it from a distance, but he has a seat in the front row.
For that reason, I think his latest column is worth reading. If you’d rather just have the high-concept, here’s a relevant paragraph:
Mark Zuckerberg underwrites a private army worthy of Pablo Escobar. There are 6,000 security people on the Facebook payroll, $18 million per year dedicated to his detail alone. There is an escape chute in his office that goes to an underground garage and a waiting vehicle, staffed by ex-Secret Service and military people. He maintains this posture of maximum deterrence while living in Palo Alto, the least diverse and safest city in California. All while donating millions to the Racial Justice Accelerator Fund, which backs BLM, George Gascon, and various pro-crime initiatives, including the effort to de-felonize mugging and assault down here in L.A. He’s not alone in this. Jack Dorsey, Laurene Powell Jobs, Mackenzie Scott, Dustin Moskowitz, Patty Quillan, all heavy donors to The Cause. (That’s Twitter, Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Netflix, if you were wondering)
Zuck is far safer from the consequences of street violence than I am, by a factor of ten or a hundred or even more. Yet he doesn’t share my authorial detachment from the issue. He has ideas as to how everyone else should live. Those ideas bear very little resemblance to his life. Yet he funds those ideas with millions of dollars. Would you, the reader, think less of me if I sat in my little suburb and funded organizations that promoted street violence in downtown Columbus? Of course you would, and you would be right to do so. Actually, forget the “street violence” part of it. Would you think less of me if I funded organizations that promised to alter the way other people lived, while leaving my own life 100% intact, just the way I wanted it?
The media is encouraging us to view Ma’Khia as a child — and she is. They are showing you her TikTok videos on hair care, as proof that she was no activist, no political person, no wannabe gangster. In this, I believe they are correct. The media encourages you to envision a scenario where it is your child being gunned down by police. To be forthright, that is beyond my imagination. There is no conceivable situation where my son is going to knock an adult down then turn to stab another adult, all while being perfectly aware that there is an armed policeman just ten feet away.
Certainly the same is true for August Chan Zuckerberg, the infinitely wealthy daughter of Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan. Surrounded by a million-dollar private security force, living in mansions, traveling by private jet… can any of us imagine the day when August will need to grab a knife and handle her own business? Yet The Great Zuck watches the video of Ma’Khia’s most desperate moment and he feels that he has the answers to this. And the answers involve a massive decrease in police presence. Not in my neighborhood, mind you; the Powell Police will never be “defunded”, nor will our county sheriff, and if someone tried to do it they would be laughed out of the polling place. Nor will Zuck’s private security ever be “defunded”. The “defunding” will happen somewhere else, a safe experimental distance from his escape chute and his armored Suburban.
Van Nuys, the valley of Up In The Valley, will see the results of Zuckerberg’s meddling long before I will. (August Chan will, of course, never see the results, not from her helicopter.) The night I had dinner with “Mr. Up” at the MacLeod brewing company, things were generally nice and quiet. My $28,500 Kawasaki motorcycle went untouched at the curb. Yet there was a single moment when someone screamed and a Dodge Charger came roaring down our 25mph side street at perhaps three times the legal limit. Someone else shouted out a coarse threat. There was no cop waiting to write a ticket. No consequences for that behavior.
If, like me, you’re sequestered from the places where modern history is being made, you should peruse that blog the same way people in Ohio used to crowd the theatres when newsreels came in from Iwo Jima. There’s a war going on out there. It might not touch you, and it might not touch me, and it certainly won’t touch Mark Zuckerberg. But someone will be hurt. You should be aware.