I just finished the 4th episode of Fear the Walking Dead. I know, that was last week’s episode. I have a job and a baby, if it weren’t for DVR I’d never watch anything on TV.
So, where to start…
At the very end of Episode 3, the army arrives and starts killing zombies. At the start of Episode 4, dysfunctional family and El Salvadorian family are sharing dysfunctional family’s house which is now in a safe zone. The military has formed about a dozen safe zones out of various neighborhoods by fencing them off and occupying them. Dysfunctional dad is some how the civilian leader of his safe zone, at one point he is called “mayor” by the army lieutenant in charge of the safe zone.
The lieutenant in charge of the safe zone is a total a##hole. He’s gruff, unsympathetic, callus, and jokes about shooting the civilians in the safe zone. At first I thought this was just AMC (insert gratuitous comment about typical Hollywood liberals) being anti-military. Since we haven’t really interacted with any other military at this point maybe, just maybe, his being an a##hole was just a personality quirk and not a statement against the military by AMC.
At the end of the episode, the military drags away drug addict son with force, actually butt-stroking him to the face with an M-16. On a personal level, I have no sympathy for drug addict son. He was stealing drugs from an injured person in the safe zone, hooking himself up to the patients painkiller drip. Previously he refused to share his painkillers (the ones girlfriend stole for him to help him with withdrawal) with El Salvadorian mom, who crushed her foot. If there is one feature that defines all drug addicts, it is selfishness. They will do whatever it takes to get high, regardless of how much it harms other people. This kind of person is a detriment to society, but especially in an apocalypse scenario, so I don’t mind so much that he was hauled off. But I digress…
As I thought about the this last episode, I realized maybe AMC wasn’t just being hard on the military. Only a month ago was the 10th anniversary of the landfall of Hurricane Katrina. I watched the news and the President’s speech and all the yammering punditry, but the one thing that I didn’t see was mention of the door-to-door raids by police and the National Guard collecting guns. For that I had to turn to the NRA. One of the things I remember about Katrina, watching the disaster unfold from my dorm room, was the belligerence shown by the nine most terrifying words in the English language.
Sure, I’ll concede that there was violence by some of the citizens of NOLA, and looting and people taking advantage of the disaster. Say what you want about providing security, but what happened in NOLA after Karina was about more than just security. It was a crackdown on US citizens. Not since the Civil War have US troops gone house-to-house with guns rousting residents.
One segment from the news stands out in my mind (I can’t find video of it), of General Russel Honore showing up in NOLA and yelling at soldiers to put their guns down. Before he got there, the military was rolling through a US city like it was Fallujah. (Yes, Yes, I know, Honore retired and turned out to be a totally anti-gun “if you like assault weapons join the army” liberal, but I’m only talking about his command in NOLA.)
Coincidentally, this, the treating of a US city like was a foreign nation to be occupied and the total erosion of civil rights was the genesis of the Oath Keepers movement. Keep in mind, I’m not crapping on individual members of the military here. There are many good people in uniform. But any bureaucracy (including the military) is ultimately a big, lumbering, officious, callus, machine that will keep grinding people under it until somebody (either from within or outside) stops it.
What frightens me is that AMC’s portrayal of life in a safe zone is more accurate than I would hope. Just ask the people of Watertown, Massachusetts what they experienced in much less dire circumstances. Sure, those were police, but that might have been hard to tell by ordinance they were carrying.
Yes, after Katrina many people got their guns back. There were lawsuits and settlements. President G.W. Bush even passed an executive order which later became law preventing the government from confiscating legally possessed arms during a natural disaster. Several states even doubled and tripled down on this by securing the right of CCW permit holders, and even non permit holders, to carry during a disaster. But all of this only works if once the disaster ends there are courts and lawyers to secure the rights that were taken away during the disaster and order recompense. What happens when you lose your rights today and there is no tomorrow? Food for thought.
I still want dysfunctional dad to get munched on and El Salvadorian barber did witness atrocities during the El Salvadorian Civil War. I’m still waiting for more of his backstory to unfold.
Switching to different zombie fiction. One of my favorite, and the most believable, part of World War Z (the book, not the movie, don’t talk to me about the movie) was that the US military had to retake the Black Hills of South Dakota. In WWZ, the military retreats from the East Coast and Mid West all the way to behind the Rocky Mountains which formed a natural barrier against the undead. The residents of the Black Hills were abandoned by the military and left to fend for themselves. They survived and when the US retook SD, they were so offended at being left behind, they declared themselves a sovereign state and resisted unification. I lived in western South Dakota for six years. WWZ is 100% correct. The hill-folk of SD (or any rural state for that matter) would both survive a zombie apocalypse and be very resentful of a government showing up and wanting to take control of a group of people they had previously forsaken.