Over the years Alfred E. Neuman’s image has been melded into a lot of composite caricatures. Barbra Streisand, Link from The Mod Squad, Jabba the Hut, Spock, Tom Cruise, Justin Beiber, Mr. T and Obama to name a few. One guy Mad Magazine never did it to was Jeff Bezos. Could that be because if they had it would have flipped the “What, me worry?” kid’s script?
The Tuesday, August 15 Washington Post devoted all of A6 to “Crime paranoia moves many Americans to fortify homes,” by Danielle Paquette. The Daily Beast reported in 2019 that Amazon spends $1.6 million on Bezos’ security when he is out and about. This does not include what goes to protecting his offices, homes or himself traveling on company business. Unlike “many Americans” the Amazon man needs eyes in the back of his head 24/7. You, on the other hand, better not get caught by the WP scaring quite so easily. The article maintains that less important people budgeting ten grand for domestic surveillance capability have gone off the deep end.
Tony Thurman, owner of Shield Security Systems in Kansas City, Kansas is cited throughout the piece. 66-year-old potential client Dan O’Dell says, “I’d be willing to make a $5,000 to $10,000 investment.” When Thurman replies, “Dan, I’d have trouble billing you over $5,000,” we know immediately that Shield is not a government contractor.
Bezos paid $500 million for his yacht, that’s twice what the Post cost. The business that kept most of the Graham family busy for decades is a secondary diversion for Jeff. How involved he gets in daily operations isn’t clear. But it’s hard not to see his hand in recurrent themes coming up in the copy.
Over the past three years, the number of people who reported deteriorating safety in their area has spiked, especially among Republicans, though crime ebbed and flowed well below the bloodier levels of the 1990’s. Gun purchases soared to record peaks. The home security industry boomed.
If you’d like to avoid being ruled pathological by Danielle, wait for crime to hit an all time high before taking precautions. It’s a rule she doesn’t apply to those with a net worth exceeding the GDP of most countries. Like the allowance that must be made for their carbon butt-prints – only a fascist would suggest limits on aristocratic consumption or security expenses.
Terrorism is well below levels 20 years ago as a domestic threat. Is the DHS retrenching? No length of vigilance our government goes to, under any circumstances, gets a “paranoia” diagnosis from the Washington Post. They are far more likely to call people kooky for noticing.
The Daily Beast article linked above says Facebook was spending $9.6 million guarding Mark Zuckerberg four years ago. Since Covid that amount has probably spiraled upwards. Americans shelling out one thousandth of that watching their own backs are not only deranged, Paquette finds, but dangerous.
Joe Howard is a retired policeman cited in the piece. Danielle is happy to inform us that he is also a “Christian.” This is how she closes:
If someone trespasses onto his property, he’ll take aim. Yet as a Christian, he said, he won’t shoot anybody who isn’t trying to hurt him.
“But the thing is,” Thurman said, “you are trained, rational, calm. I don’t know what percentage of the population is. But I know there is a percentage of the population who is …”
“Itching to do it,” Howard interjected.
“Oh my God, yes,” Thurman said. “Just looking for an excuse.”
Earlier Thurman refers to “People with their fingers already on the trigger.” The author fills in any blank with “—like the 84-year-old White man who shot a Black teenager one April evening in Kansas City after the boy rang his doorbell by mistake.” Ralph Yarl’s shooting was certainly a criminal tragedy but he did live. The WP has spilled more ink on that case than on any of the 6 or 7 thousand murders since. Their editorial priorities, while askew, only take in the most credulous readers. The “percentage” of violence perpetrated by trigger-happy vigilantes is not hard to compute. Its right hand distance from the decimal point keeps the exact figure out of print.
Paquette’s article originally appeared online August 9th under the title “The delicate art of selling safety in a paranoid America.” There’s that “P” word again. Any excesses of concern for self-preservation by billionaires, politicians, alphabet soup entities, edumacrats or agents of media itself never seem to merit that description. Paranoia is too precious a thing to reach the hands of the peasantry. Their betters are, like Bill O’Reilly, faithfully looking out for the serfdom. When they try to take on that responsibility themselves, remedial action is required.
Shield Security is run from the Kansas side of the City with a crime rate close to national averages. On the other side of the river Kansas City, Missouri has a murder rate over 5 times that of the general United States. Paquette isn’t exactly subtle suggesting recognition of the facts implies racism with homicidal tendencies. Actual stats on vigilante carnage are tactfully left out of the diatribe. They would invalidate every word of it.
Nowhere in this screed, nor any other from the Post that I recall, do violent criminals put back in circulation hours after an arrest come up. Nor, the many cases when such subjects go right back to inflicting harm on the public. Noticing that Soros’ backed organizations fund the policy of these revolving doors is characterized as not only “paranoid” but “anti-Semitic.” Should organized shoplifting raids, like the recent one at an LA Nordstrom’s, rile anyone about the outrageous rise in criminal brazenness? What about carjacking and the shutdown of market districts in places like San Francisco? Then there is the matter of flash mobbery to be considered. Anyone worried that these trends might spill their way is who Post editors want us to be afraid of.
If Mad Magazine got revived and artistically rendered the image of Alfred and Jeff into one, a new, improved slogan would be in order: “What, you worry?”