In The Departed, there’s a scene where Leo DiCaprio’s character, Billy Costigan, finally confronts the corrupt state trooper who was acting as a mole for the Irish mob throughout the film and after handcuffing him, says he doesn’t care if the charges don’t stick: “I’m still arresting you.”
This part has stayed with me since I saw it, with a bit more relevance for today, because the doomers of social media are in many ways either acting like Billy Costigan themselves or hoping that Merrick Garland will stop being #MeekMerrick and turn into Costigan going after right-wing insurgents. I’ve had interactions where the words exchanged were actually pretty close. In other words, rather than taking care of the much larger problem, going with the immediate and obvious solution that seems all too easy and will just make them feel better about the whole situation. Without giving much more of the movie away, this approach doesn’t work out too well for Billy Costigan.
While I’m referencing a work of fiction, a lot of us are guided by fictional portrayals of how things should go in the real world – and we’re hoping for a quick resolution where the traitors behind Jan 6 are swiftly brought to justice. Of course, in the real world – the charges sticking is the whole point of doing any of this work. Traitors like Bannon need to be made an example of. Doing any of this work in a hurry just increases the risk that any number of witnesses brought before the committee will get to go free on some technicality or other.
While we spent the last four years glued to our screens or phones, watching with horror as Jeff Sessions or Bill Barr went after their new target and chiseled away at democracy, we can’t expect to be treated to more of the same show. The DOJ should be allowed to do its work without regularly holding press conferences that reassure the public of their next move – as this would make their jobs even harder. Bear in mind that we’re closer to seeing justice come for these people than we’ve ever been, and when the day does come, there will be a fairly airtight case against them.
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and an advocate of science-based policy making