Mind the Sheriff
Frederick today becomes the focus for many worldly eyes. The powerful G-8 is meeting at Camp David, near Thurmont. Sheriff Chuck Jenkins strongly advises avoiding the upper reaches of the county, north of Frederick City. He’s seldom wrong. This time, Chuck’s right on the money.
When Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin visited Egyptian President Muhammad Anwar Sadat, I confronted a similar situation. Their conferences were at the Mena House, in the shadows of the Great Pyramids. The long and straight Al-Ahram Boulevard, site of numerous accidents, was constantly interrupted by roadblocks, manned by Egyptian and Israeli security forces. Behind the scenes, the U.S. Secret Service coordinated, if not masterminded, the whole plan.
A large area of Giza, on the other side of the Nile from Cairo, was cordoned off. The press was scattered around in various hotels and motels; I wound up in the Jolie Ville, a Swiss chain. Having an assigned driver from the Ministry of Information made going and leaving not complicated. But there were many frustrated tourists those days.
And there were no protesting crowds: noisy anti-Israel Egyptians, identified by the police, were kept safely away or in jail. The security program locally is compounded by not only Occupy Baltimore and the sister movements, but people who put themselves on the warpath against the policies of all eight financial superpowers that will include newly elected French President François Hollande, the first socialist to live in the Palais d’Elysee for some years.
Embattled Russian President Vladimir Putin is sending instead Dmitry Medvedev, his predecessor and prime minister. So, there is the possibility of anti-Putin demonstrations. The G-8 summit was scheduled for Chicago until a couple of months ago. U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D., MD) has filed a bill petitioning federal funds to pay back the county and state expenses.
During the last wowser that concluded the massive Washington marches against the Vietnam War, I was on the sidewalk. Police restrictions forced me to seek a DuPont Circle bar still in range of the tear gas they used so liberally. Before the days of mobiles, I called in reports. The so-called May Day Tribe brought an estimated 500,000 in 1971, after I left Rome, where I witnessed Italians protesting the same deadly conflict.
The happenings starting today offer the distinct possibility of the anti-Vietnam style protests in combination with when Mr. Begin came to call on Mr. Sadat, as a return for the Egyptian chief of state visiting Israel the previous November. This might be even worse since the Great Recession refuses to go away. While the attention at Camp David will be on matters financial, political repercussions will immediately follow. The election this November poses an example.
Having been at least inconvenienced by these prior events, I mean to make myself invisible except for the strolls English pointer Pushkin demands we take twice daily. Otherwise, my North Market Street’s yellow door will stay shut and locked against the invading hordes.