Situational Awareness, 2011
September 28, 2011
Conservative commentators with whom we generally agree have sharply criticized last week’s memo to state lawmakers from Madison police chief Noble Wray, saying Wray’s advice amounts to: “You’re on your own, good luck.” We can’t reject that interpretation out of hand, but there’s a more chilling aspect.
Wray’s memo follows the recent beer-dumping assault on Joint Finance Committee co-chair Robin Vos and advises legislators to practice “situational awareness” and be on guard against “persons that appear out of place or are paying unusual attention to you.”
The memo reads like common-sense tips any personal security professional would offer to people entering a high-crime area. But that’s not what we’re talking about here.
Outside their highly irregular working hours, legislators in Madison frequent an area close by the Capitol. Filled with fashionable bars, restaurants and hotels, it’s busy and well-lighted, home to the Capitol Police, Madison Police and Dane County Sheriff’s Department, and populated by condo dwellers with more money than most of us would feel free to spend on real estate.
And this privileged environment is Ground Zero for leftist unions, campus radicals and state agency clock watchers fantasizing that they’re in a life-and-death struggle with the Walker administration and the Republican Legislature.
What’s chilling about Chief Wray’s memo is what it tacitly concedes: If a Wisconsin legislator is assaulted—that is, if a Republican legislator is recognized as such and therefore targeted—the perpetrator is less likely to be a member of a criminal underclass lurking in a dangerous neighborhood, than a middle-class bureaucrat or academic leading a safe, comfortable life and quite possibly collecting a bigger taxpayer-financed salary than the one paid to the legislator.
Talk about a situation to be aware of.