A crime wave terrorizes a neighborhood. A brave citizen identifies the gang leaders behind it to the authorities, and the perpetrators are caught and locked up. The whistleblower gets a medal of courage from the mayor, as we all cheer.
Nice story. But today, such heroes are often vilified — from the hood to the White House.
In Baltimore, in 2004, a “Stop Snitchin’ ” campaign gained national attention when a DVD of that name began to circulate. Local gang members in the video threatened violence against anyone who reported their crimes.
Since then, a number of rappers have popularized the “Stop Snitchin’ ” theme. Harlem-born rapper Cam’ron told “60 Minutes” he’d never “snitch” on a criminal, even a serial killer, because telling the police would only “hurt his record sales.”
But the “Stop Snitchin’ ” message doesn’t emanate just from the hood.
“The spotlight has finally been put on lowlife leakers! They will be caught!”
Guess who issued that threat? Hint: He’s also a native New Yorker, but now lives in Washington, D.C.
Does President Donald Trump realize that message makes him seem less concerned about members of his team illegally communicating with Russia and more concerned about who spilled the beans?
Trump recently blasted the FBI for not finding out who told CNN that Trump campaign staffers were talking to Russian officials during the 2016 race. “The FBI is totally unable to stop the national security ‘leakers,’ ” Trump tweeted. “Classified information is being given to media that could have a devastating effect on U.S.,” he tweeted. FIND NOW.”
Yes, track down those dirty snitches! They could get me in real trouble!
In this frightening new world, illegal activity isn’t the problem, it’s bringing it to light. As they say, sunlight is the best disinfectant. So close those damn shades!
From Frank Serpico, who exposed corruption in the NYPD in the 1970s, to Jeffrey Wigand, who revealed tobacco companies hiding the lethal effects of cigarettes in the 1990s, many whistleblowers were put through living hell before later being recognized as heroes. Do we really want a repeat of this in 2017?
Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.net.