During my oh-so brief tenure as English Teaching Assistant in three of this town’s grade schools, I met exceptional teachers and principals. Of the lot, only one stunned me back to the world of nineteen fifty-two when a sick old nun terrorized a classroom filled with six year-olds. This time, a teacher shamed a small child, and tore up her work, standing proud and tall above the figure hunched over the desk. I couldn’t do a thing about it other than express my outrage to the principal. Who is aware of the problem and struggling to find a solution.
Meanwhile, the great minds “up there” in Government… what can I say about the total disconnect between their so-called action plans and reality. Turning teachers and principals into informants on Deviancy of dress, conduct, and opinion? Lumping under Deviancy anything and everything outside Government-prescribed conduct and behavior?
Been there, under a different guise. Back then, a rigorist and closed-minded Catholic clergy hounded sin down to the furthest recesses of people’s minds. Now, the emerging thought police wants to insure everyone pays obeisance to the Government’s definition of what all sixty-six million inhabitants must do and say – in public, and in private.
I have a leaflet on my desk. Printed up by the millions by the Ministry of the Interior with a special phone number you must call if you suspect anyone of djihadist tendencies. How to spot said tendencies? A change in eating habits, clothing, language, finances. “Anti-social” speech (definition? Make up your own). Rejecting authority (whose? Choose). Rejecting community living (whatever that means). Add to the mix website or social media of a “radical or extremist” bent (do these include political parties that don’t think neo-liberalism is wonderful?) and – get this – “allusion to the end of times”.
Friends, please refrain from any reading of the Apocalypse or I’ll dial the special green number. A group of hearty fellows will pound down your door, wrestle you to the ground, put the handcuffs on you and go through your book collection. Poke a few holes in the ceiling for good measure and leave after wishing you a pleasant end of day/night or whatever.
Insidious. Like one of those invisible gases. Except this one stinks.
(I’m trying to remember the title of the book that featured in a similar piece of Absurd Theater back in Quebec in the seventies when the booted, helmeted and gun-wielding ones broke into people’s homes in search of” terrorists”. By a strange twist of fate, the raids happened a few days before municipal elections in Montreal. I, and many other young people, were activists in a movement called FRAP (Front d’action politique). We were running candidates in said election. A helpful Minister or two declared there would be blood on the steps of City Hall, should any of our candidates be elected. Not the candidates’ blood, of course, the citizens’. Guess who won the election.)
Having trouble getting back into the writing? Yes.