Rooting for the boot

Indignity Vol. 4, No. 74

Rooting for the boot
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - APRIL 30: New York Police Department officers detain dozens of pro-Palestinian students at Columbia University after they barricaded themselves at the Hamilton Hall building near Gaza Solidarity Encampment earlier in New York, United States on April 30, 2024. (Photo by Selcuk Acar/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Michael Powell Sides With the Cops

WHAT IS THE point of sending a reporter to witness something? The New York campus protests against the destruction of Gaza reached a new, but not at all final, stage last night when the NYPD stormed an occupied building at Columbia and cleared an encampment at the City College of New York. As he had been before, the Atlantic's Michael Powell was on the scene at Columbia, trying to narrate a police crackdown on an antiwar movement as something the legacy-magazine-reading public could get behind, or at least not be outraged about. 

Powell's biography on the site formerly known as Twitter offers "[f]ormer cabbie, tenant organizer & doorman" as his real working-person credentials, against any wokescolds who might notice any tendency in his current career toward the comforting of the comfortable. As he described the hours before yesterday's crackdown, the specific cabbie he seemed to be channeling was Travis Bickle. 

"Columbia University’s campus felt like it would in the hours before a heat wave breaks," Powell wrote. The heat, in this mood-simile, consisted of "[s]tudent protesters, nearly all of whom had wrapped their faces in keffiyehs or surgical masks" and also "four police helicopters and a drone"—some weather, following the detached and immutable laws of physics. Certain things were building off each other, toward a natural result. Helped along, perhaps, by a letter from the university president requesting some lightning. 

And when there's heat and disorder, it's time for a real rain to come and wash things clean