The wrong kind of lockdown

I still feel a little shook, even as the days spiral away from the Biden inauguration and it feels like our government has established a center of gravity again. But the signs of not-normal remain in Washington, particularly at the Capitol, which is surrounded by a steel fence that’s topped with razor wire. The Capitol police chief wants a fence around the complex permanently — part of the continued prison-ization of key government buildings that has gone on through most of my time here.

When I first moved to DC, you could drive right by the front of the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue. Then a guy sprayed the West Wing front with rifle bullets, and a small plane crashed at the foot of the South Portico, and 9/11 happened…and all of the security was hardened. Pennsylvania Avenue was closed to cars between 15th and 17th. Last summer and again in the fall, that perimeter was extended northward another block to the other side of Lafayette Square, lest protesters disturb Donald Trump’s tweetstorms.

It’s a terrible trend, but fencing in the Capitol would be the worst of all. It’s the People’s House, the kind of place where you should be able to walk around, and allowing a few thousand foaming nutbags to ruin it for many millions is just wrong. I know it’s a risk; openness is always a risk. Taking the world’s most important symbol of democracy and surrounding it with high-security fencing is a risk of its own; it says that the wrong folks are winning. Let’s not let them win.

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *