Denial constantly evolves in order to fulfill its destiny, which is hiding the truth.
One form of denial claims: “I was just following orders,” and we all know what that was hiding. Another is: “I didn’t know.”
This short list is in a devastating critique of Trump’s last week by Masha Gessen in The New Yorker.
How is it possible, she asks, that neither the Secretary of Defense nor the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff didn’t know why they were asked to join their President in his walk from the White House across Lafayette Square, upside down Bible in hand, to St. John’s Episcopal Church? General Mark Miley said he thought he was there to review National Guard troops, and Mark Esper said later, “I didn’t know where I was going.”
Which brings me to the Commissioner of the RCMP, Brenda Lucki.
How is it possible that she didn’t see the video of the beating of Chief Allan Adam before you and I did?
It’s instructive to discover who knew what and when:
Adam’s arrest took place on March 10.
On June 5th, Adam first made his claim of being beaten by the Mounties.
On June 6th, the Mounties said that what happened to him didn’t meet the threshold for an external investigation.
By June 8th, after Adam had posted a still photo of his face beaten to a pulp, the RCMP said there would be an investigation.
Last Wednesday, June 10th, Brenda Lucki claimed the RCMP may be guilty of ‘unconscious bias’, but not ‘systemic racism.’
On Thursday, June 11th, we all saw the tape.
By Friday, the Commissioner admitted that systemic racism exists in the 20,000-member force.
But it wasn’t exactly a full-throated admission: “I did acknowledge that we, like others, have racism in our organization, but I did not say definitively that systemic racism exists in the RCMP. I should have.”
Really? You’re going to admit to having racism but not being racist?
And you expect us, the citizens of one of the most diverse and multi-racial nations not only in the world, but in the history of the world, you expect us to let you thread that rusty needle?
But the bigger question is, why didn’t you ask to see the video the morning after Chief Adam was arrested?
He isn’t just any Indigenous citizen; he is a Chief. He has power.
If not you, why didn’t your deputies ask for the tape? And if they saw what the world has now seen, why didn’t they say: “Commissioner, perhaps you should look at this”?
Why would her communications staff let her go on national TV knowing she would be asked about the incident without having decided for herself if it was worthy of investigation?
This wasn’t some third-party video, though there were plenty of those that night outside the casino in Fort McMurray.
It was a dashcam video from the RCMP car at the scene. It’s RCMP property. They. Own. It.
No one expects a police force to be a gossip column.
But the RCMP’s denial of reality, its mantra of “I didn’t know” is so profound that it threatens to make us mock our national police force instead of revering it, or even just supporting it.
This isn’t Don’t ask. Don’t tell.
It’s much worse: it’s Don’t look. Don’t tell.
15 thoughts on “The Plague-Ground – I Didn’t Know”
My blood pressure just went up reading your blog. Not that I didn’t already know about the incident, the denial, the retraction, the systemic racism. Just that reading it again made my blood boil.
Although this is not Nazi Germany the concept of ‘didn’t know’ reeks of NIMBY and I fear the future. Systemic anything is so entrenched. I hope the changes we all crave do not go back under the carpet.
Bob – yet another good example why we appreciate your daily blogs. Thank you for the chronology. Puts everything into perspective on a timeline basis for anyone who was not keeping track. Your questions asked and unanswered are to the point, requiring an “intelligent” answer. This is much more than racism. It’s police omnipotence to inflict their own justice via the power and threat of the gun. Until the complaint, they had avoided being caught. Now the evidence has caught them, subject to the legal system. Bottom line, everything after the beating has been CYA (cover your ass). That is the systemic problem! I got caught in one of these scenarios back about 50 years ago.The energy them was to protect the offending officer, by his fellow workers. Everyone had mortgages or rents to pay. So it was all CYA. We all know situations where staff incompetence has been covered up by platitudes and or BS stories.That is the problem which seems to permeate society. Protecting stupidity is not an enviable goal. But that is where we are today. We call it plausible deniability and then accept same like subservient sheep.Hopefully times are changing and society can grow up.
The issue we face is common across many government-run institutions/organizations. It’s called bureaucracy. It often has many layers, each defending its position. With the police, it’s the police management, the union., the city authority responsible, city hall, regional/national government, etc., etc. When trouble shows up at the citizen level, the whole system goes into either status-quo ignorance or active change prevention.
The police system is based on a very old military command and control model, so it’s bound to be open to denial and abuse by those with power.
There are no quick answers to this – save for getting started. We can do that by moving on from the blaming to a rigorous look at speeding up the process of change.
We can all help to create change. Bob, not sure you want to post this – but I feel your readers may want to act.on this. I know I do. Ryan Knight is working hard with the black and indigenous community to help them navigate government and find ways to create jobs and grow their businesses. I received this from Ryan this morning:
“There is 187 Billion dollars in infrastructure funding and some very loud lobbyists are trying to remove community benefit agreements that impact Black and Indigenous construction and engineering firms.
Endorsing the letter at http://www.inclusiverecovery.ca takes 30 seconds. Please do so right away it is time sensitive.
Another great expose of undercover racism. It is so blatantly obvious to me, that this incident was swept under the carpet, until the RCMP chief was called on to be accountable. I do not know how she has been able to retain her position as chief, after this expose of conduct. She needs to apologize to the nation for her incompetence as an official of the RCMP. She does not deserve to be in that role, simply because of her confusing attitude, behaviour and message that has been brought to light. I appreciate your message Bob, that more of us need to take heed and do something about. The gig is up!!
Thank you for today’s blog. I agree with your thoughts and comments. Another comment made by Commissioner Lucki was “If I could twitch my nose, I would want it happening right now.” Samantha on Bewitched used her twitching nose to make things change and according to the show’s writers she belonged to a powerful ‘secret society’ but that’s far from the case with the RCMP. The RCMP was never supposed to be a secret society and there shouldn’t be any secrets to keep. Hard work has to be done to correct this situation, and an apology is a good place to start but not end.
Jane – I missed that ‘twitch my nose’ quote. Boy, is she ever not-media-savvy! I agree, the RCMP has been in trouble for years.
But it’s only now that their many problems are coming to light. Cheers. Bob
Tina — Let me look into this.Thanks for the heads-up.
The gig is up, indeed, Lorraine !
Alan, I agree; it IS called bureaucracy. But the RCMP’s version of it seems to be crippling.
Doug — Hopefully, THIS time there will be change.
But we are old and………
Let’s just have more videotapes uncover more racism and sexism and everything else. Otherwise, it all happens in a fog.
In Chicago it is illegal for an officer to tape off their name tag and to turn off their body-cam- they will be fired if they do. Perhaps that should be universal. And the street officer in the U.K. is unarmed. They serve and protect.
“it is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it ” — Upton Sinclair
Perfect quote, Bernie. I’m going to lift it, if I may…