Our moments define us.
They crystallize the things that matter right now. Freedom—economic as much as political. Idealism born of despair. The servants of authority struggling against their own good, their own humanity. Tell me, which side are you on?
I once had a soldier say to me that it is the soldiers, and only the soldiers, that stand between me and subjugation. I wonder, does that make this girl a soldier?
I read James Lloyd Davis’s resonant “There is no honor in this.”
In the comments alongside James’ description of the photograph, of the girl, of the world, there is anger and unity. Yeah man, I feel you right here. And there, too, our own greatest obstacle to overcome—ourselves.
“Fat cops, thin girl.”
People explode. “What if the girl was fat! Then how would you feel?”
No wonder America is in so much fucking trouble if Americans can look at pictures of the conflict in their streets, the struggle for economic equality, for political accountability, for a voice, and they think the really important thing to talk about here is how much the women in the photograph fucking weigh.
Let’s talk about the weight, then.
The cop, yeah, she’s fat. She’s fat and emblematic, a servant and an embodiment and a victim, all at the same time. Fat cats. Fat wallets.
A fatted calf.
The girl, she’s thin. Not rich thin. Not personal trainer, personal chef, designer organic produce thin. Not even gym membership and Whole Foods thin.
She’s poor thin. Don’t got enough to eat thin. Choose between food and rent thin.
It’s part of what makes this picture—this moment—as moving as it is: the unpremeditated symbolism of the weight of the authority vested in that uniform bearing down on an impoverished waif with the face of a Madonna.
Or, as James says,
O brave men and women in blue with badges, guns and gravitas, brave guardians of order protecting the rights of threatened bankers from her delicate, beautiful anarchy.
You can’t engineer your icons to fit your sensibilities; you have to capture them as they come. That’s what makes them true. That’s what makes them powerful.
It happened just like that.
I want to paint this scene onto every wall of every vacant building in America.
Me too, James. Me too.