Garry has an undying devotion to some really awful old television series. Among many others, he really likes “The Untouchables.” That would be the version with Robert Stack as Elliott Ness. It’s the original, where our chief G-man and his “guys” fight (are you ready?) for The Volstead Act. Prohibition! That’s right. Prohibition. Booze, or more accurately, the lack thereof. Fighting for the right to have people NOT drink booze.
I’m not a boozer. I don’t drink now and I never drank much, not even when I was much younger, but I can’t imagine going to war to make booze disappear. War doesn’t work, not even when it’s a war against drugs or booze or your neighbor or their neighbor. War (which is not the same as protection) is an ineffective tool that does more damage than good. I grant you there have been a few exceptions, but ironically, most “good wars” were fought because of bad deals made following previous bad wars. But what do I know, right?
Anyway, back to “The Untouchables.”
What a great show. When the cops are pissed off with you, they can beat the living crap out of you. If that doesn’t get you to spill your guts, they’ll toss you off the train. A moving train. You have a problem with that? You too are disposable.
This version of the FBI is unconcerned with your rights. They don’t believe you have any rights. First amendment? What’s that? You are dirt under their feet and they treat you accordingly, as if you are dirt under their feet. This is a show that never made the slightest apology for being racist. They never pretended to be fair or worried much about legalities.
They said “We are G-men. You will obey!” And everyone did. It is the FBI at its purest. These men (there are no women other than an occasional secretary) are not merely above the law. They are the law.
My favorite moment in tonight’s show was when the boys, ignoring even a nod to international law, take the FBI bus into Mexico to track down the guys who kidnapped their witness.
“The bus broke down three times and the trip took 10 hours,” said the stentorian voice of the narrator.
“So what?” I said to Garry. “We live in the country. That could describe my last trip to the grocery store.”
Since the FBI took over enforcing Prohibition — that is, The Volstead Act — no one has had a drink. Not one person. These guys were so good at battling against beer and booze, the alcohol problem was permanently solved. Some might call this denial. I call it faith. If you believe, it must be true.
I’m trying to get into our current national spirit. How am I doing?