Saturday, July 24, 2010

Insecure


Join or die, eh? Cool painting on an arched ceiling, somewhere on the Senate side of the Capitol.

Once upon a time, the Capitol (and all other federal buildings) belonged to everyone. When FDR was president, it was possible to walk right up to the White House, knock on the door. Can you imagine?

Before 9/11, I used to take Jake down to the grounds of the Supreme Court where he frolicked with other dogs on the north lawn. I wandered in and out of the reading room at the Library of Congress anytime I felt like it. And, as I said yesterday, I spent time every week in the beautiful Capitol rotunda.

Before 9/11, was there security at the Smithsonian? Somehow I don't remember going through metal detectors, being scanned, having some security guard go through my purse, but I might be wrong about that. Everything was so much more relaxed.


People are drawn to the center point of the Capitol. When they stand on that point, they inevitably spin around. Everyone's a shaman.

Yep, I am in mourning recently, grieving for the old DC. Don't quite know why it took me nine years, except that I'm slow by nature. It's just now dawning on me how much I detest the security everywhere, how much I miss the simplicity and fun of entering and exiting from these national icons without being scrutinzed by some sour-faced guard. (Not that I blame them. What a terrible job. But - I could live without the scowls and power-over behavior, I really could.)

I don't feel safer. In fact, the security process, as it is actually practiced, is so random. Sometimes they check thoroughly, sometimes they just wave you through. Conceivably anyone could still smuggle a bomb into any of the so-called secured buildings. It's fake security, the same way that the big ole pepper grinder in restaurants is fake service. Or was. Most places don't make a big show of bringing over a 2 foot long pepper grinder anymore, thank god.

Pre 9/11 DC was a tightly-wound, hard-core city full of the smartest, hardest-working people I've ever known. But it was more or less accessible to the regular joes like me. Now it's a tightly-wound, hard-core city oppressed by a show of security that doesn't guarantee safety in any way.

9/11 was a terrible day. Its legacy is terrible, too. Dang, man. I miss the good old days.


There are a whole lot of boyscouts in DC this week. They must be having some big convo. That's Pocahantas in the background, being baptised.

20 comments:

Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

It really is such a shame that we have to endure all this security. I try to tell myself that I can tolerate it because it is supposed to keep us safe, but it really is a nuisance.
When Truman was President he & Bess moved out of the White House so it could be renovated. There was little security where they lived and two men came up to the entrance with guns to assassinate him. One (maybe both) were killed & a "guard" on duty also. Before that time Pres. Truman would walk the streets of DC to think & as exercise. Imagine that. I'd like the good ole days to return also.

Barbara said...

It's sad, much of it is pointless, but apparently a lot of people are still hiding under their beds and this makes them feel safer.

Suse said...

Oh, how I miss it, too. As kids, Mother would put us on the bus and send down to wander the National Gallery of Art. I'll pick you up at 4:00! Bye!"

Vivian said...

i will be coming to DC next month. bringing my Dad (84) to see the WW11 memorial. do you think the capital will be open during that time?
he is so excited...and I am for him

ellen abbott said...

1984 just took a little longer to get here.

Meri said...

I don't recall any security at Smithsonian in the old days, though there was a place to check bags if I remember right. And great food in the dining room of the castle if you were a resident member.

Nancy said...

I miss pre-911, too.

Pam said...

Wonderful photos Reya, particularly the last one! Guess added security is a fact of life now, always with us.

Shelley said...

I think Benjamin Franklin said it best.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Since 9/11 so many people have the attitude that they are more than willing to give up some freedom if it means additional safety. This so-called "security" has been purchased with a loss of liberty, and it's a false confidence at best.

As you say, this show of security does not guarantee safety, but it does seem to guarantee being viewed with suspicion in the most simple daily circumstances, and a lording over of power by those in a position to question or detain us at will.

I too mourn the loss of the simplicity and freedom of pre- 9/11 days, and find the willingness of so many to give up our liberties without question extremely troubling.

California Girl said...

I am following your vibe on this. I don't feel safer either. Airport security is as you describe in D.C...random and not that great. With artificial hips, I am scanned from stem to stern every time I fly. I'm resigned to it. It's the other people who fly with I wonder about. I don't even trust my purse going through the xray machine. I'm always being scanned while that occurs and I worry someone will steal it. That's how secure I feel about the Security.

Rebecca Clayton said...

I lived in DC through the Regan, GHW Bush and Clinton administrations, and moved here in 1999. During those years, access to many wonderful places was cut in response to various attacks. I remember the Regan shooting, the Marine barracks bombing in Beirut, and the Murrow Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City had really profound effects on how the Federal government interacted with citizen visitors. Every year it seemed we lost access to something.

When I worked at the Natural History Museum, visitors had to have their bags checked by guards. (That was pre-1992.)

I hear on the news (on my computer--I too gave up on broadcast TV) that threats on the lives of Congressmen & women are up 300% since 2009. I guess they're taking that sort of thing more seriously all the time.

Reya Mellicker said...

Thanks for the history, Rebecca. I guess what happened after 9/11 was part of an ongoing change. A lot of things changed drastically, all of a sudden, but we were headed in that direction anyway.

Reya Mellicker said...

Vivian, the Capitol will be open. You might google the visitor center in order to make reservations (I know that's possible) for a tour. The WWII memorial, while not my favorite design wise, has great energy. Very cool that you are bringing your dad; I'm sure he will enjoy it.

Hope it cools down!

jinksy said...

The floor tile pattern reminds me of the centre of a maze - I wonder what the energies feel like at that centre point?

Susan said...

Reya, this is really interesting. And I don't think you're slow at all. I noticed that 9/11/2009 somehow got everyone talking about their memories in a way they hadn't in any of the years since 2001. I think there's something collectively going on with us all that is just now allowing us to process what happened to us. Maybe it's the approach of the tenth anniversary?
Really - it was so pronounced that I mentioned it to several people and they agreed - people are beginning to talk about it - and notice what it's done to us.
I love the shamanic dance idea - that made me smile.

Reya Mellicker said...

Jinxy, it is very still in the very center, but the energy whirls around and around that still center. When people stand there, they can't help but spin around. SEriously, it's crazy watching them dance in alignment with the energy.

Susan I was dancing (non shamanically) to your partner's GREAT music today. Very cool!

Linda Sue said...

it's all bullshite! Before 9/11 I could just bop on up to Vancouver or Harrison, no problem- Living so close to the border I went up frequently- I have been once since 9/11- and the border is utter bullshite! Makes me nervous and anxious and I begin to doubt- maybe I do have a bomb in my wheel well that I simply forgot about...maybe I do have a kilo of whatever in my upholstery...under my seat, maybe i forgot that there were six Mexicans...
When I first started going up into Canada there were welcoming bagpipers at the arch and there was welcoming good will- now everyone is criminal. Fug it! Won't go. so, yeah, I hear you- loud, clear and full of anxiety!

Reya Mellicker said...

Linda Sue, I always feel guilty too! At the Smithsonian, at airports, and going into the Capitol. That really does suck!

Merle Sneed said...

During the Lincoln presidency it was possible to just walk into his office and complain. Times are a changing and not for the better.

Reya Mellicker said...

Merle, sometimes it's nice being old, isn't it??