||"dawnbreak in the west"|
Saturday, December 17, 2016
DS9: Gabriel's bell
Before I forget, Past Tense.
I do believe I skipped this one last year, and moved on to Destiny through to Improbable Cause. I'd thought it was "preachy" - or, God help us, even Cerebral. But I was in the mood for a little argument-therapy this week.
This ep is where various crewmembers go back to San Francisco in 2024 and solve the Homelessness Epidemic. The homeless have been shoved into Havens - oh, sorry, Sanctuaries. The rest of the country then forgets about them. Medical care for the mentally ill? Pshaw. Job placement for the down-and-outs? Who'd hire one of... those? The DS9 backstory is that one fine day in 2024 there is a riot, one Gabriel Bell stands out as a martyred hero (the Girardian scapegoat), and all Americans come together, for Hope and for Change!
Well... again I say, "maybe".
Let's get this out of the way first: it is not a partisan episode. In 2024 America the governor of California is one Mr Chen, who - based on how upper-crust Asians vote - is likely a partisan Democrat. But it's also possible California got so hard boned that they voted Republican in desperation, and it's not like a white Republican could ever win the place again. It's even possible the Republican and/or Democrat Party has/have died and left behind, I dunno, Whigs or something. But 1990s political structure wasn't this ep's point. Which helps it hold up today in 2016, especially now we have a President-elect who basically was a third-party choice.
Back to 2016, living in the Boulder / Denver area as I do, I've seen the spike firsthand. As for the cops here, well, I expect they have - if not Their Orders, at least their incentives. Which are about putting the homeless somewhere out of sight and, preferably, out of town.
I gotta say, our local press is a joke. If a man is "homeless" he's an object of pity; but if he commits a crime he morphs suddenly into that most feared of urban wildlife... the Transient. Much easier to pretend the Transient ain't one of us, isn't it? Anyway, back to DS9, this episode has its own jargon - "the homeless" are Gimmes, and "transients" are Ghosts. The paranoid-schizophrenics meanwhile are Dims.
Even in Past Tense we get some hints it won't be so easy. It's not quite that people don't care. It's that they're caught in a system. There was already a "federal employment act" which had employed some of the Gimmes here. There was also pretty good medication for the Dims. But guess what? The economy crashed! so the Act got repealed. In Europe we hear tales that the French voters have flipped their government from Gaullists to Neo-Trotskyites, and they haven't solved the problems either. Which suggests strong ideological swings in the USA as well.
I have this sinking feeling that we are, indeed, on schedule for 2024. The shift from Obama to Trump here is Neo-Stalinist to Gaullist. As for the 'bos and their drugs, the non-prescription stuff ain't helping. Also not helping, is the increasing cluster of rich white and, yes, Asian jerkoffs moving to places like San Fran and Denver to "network" - with one another, and not with the Transients or, hell, even with the middle class. Another few things that don't help? The national debt, and politicians' games.
But I ask this: say that Gabriel Bell does sacrifice himself for us, say he ascends as the Martin Luther King we should have had and didn't. Will the Governor Chens out there institute policies that actually employ the "Gimmes" and heal the "Dims"? Somehow the wealth will have to be created. Somehow Chen, and other elites who aren't white, will have to decide that out-of-luck Gimmes, Dims, and Ghosts, who usually are white (even here in 2024 coastal California), are Part Of The Tribe. Somehow the jobs people take will have to mean something! We have a history of "federal employment acts" - they're called "Pass This Jobs Bill Now Jobs Bills" and "Recovery and Reinvestment Acts" and they are always, always hijacked by the pigs at the trough, when they're not just theatre.
So the episode might be cerebral. But it's not smart, at least not as smart as it should be.
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