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The #Walkaway


By the time, in 2008, when I had already been gone from journalism for a handful of years, I arrived at being a mixed bag of convention. Five years at a paper before becoming a cop, then three years of that before grasping the golden ticket — as a federal agent. The DEA — in New York City — how oddly it appeared my path had twisted.


The truth of it was, I never was suppose to have made the cut into any of law enforcement. Bespectacled and with contact-lens worn forever, what was most clear was my sight was atrocious. That, stacked onto a thin frame and stifling shyness — in no way could I conceive, in spite of all hope, how I could follow after my father into police work.


So I was left with my zeal for unraveling mysteries, matched with a voice that, for me, resounded in words on paper. With that, I settled into my writing. But how oddly my path twisted.


My body filled out. I grew angry at myself for letting me be timid, and so, in time, shyness at some point abated. And with a courage to rely on technology for corneal repair, at some point, by the time I was 31, the obstacles in following a boyish vision — were gone.


So it was me of the “liberal media” now walking in ways like my law enforcement father. This odd twist in my path led me though to life’s fringes: at once too sympathetic a journalist to police — and then now too introspective and empathy-filled for police, once I was one of them.


Generally, politically, my family straddled both realms — voting Democrat locally to bolster and steer resources in town, but voting Republican for sake of robustness in defense and national security. And so cast my outlook, a hodgepodge of ideals that suited needs unbound by party lines.


And by the time, in 2008 — within a stronghold of conservatives in New York City, among the baddest of the bad, the sometimes loose and wild, door-bashing narcos, the DEA I was now fully a part of and soldiering amid contingents of seasoned and gnarled NYPD task force officers — I voted for Obama.


This was my crossroads where ideals converged. And in spite of jests and protestation of these, my newfound friends, I held my morals, and refrained from buckling to acquiescence.


He was to have been our nation’s the unifier. He was our generation’s John F. Kennedy. He was the hope and the change and the one poised to stand up, to pull us together, in race, in the evolution of us as a nation. No more could someone, anyone, claim that race or circumstance were eliminating factors. All the way up, up to the presidency, he would show us as elevated. Next would be forward. And now on content of character. And so, I voted for Obama.


What happed to us though? A beer summit? The likening of himself to a Travon Martin? The falsehood of “Hands up, don’t shoot” by Michael Brown in Ferguson. And the cold-cocks and gratuitous attacks and killings — on police. That war on police then could have been curbed and ebbed by him.


Add more the unsustainable bloat. Further, the shout down and bullying on ANY idea disagreeable, the strong-arming through the infliction of doxing and cancel culture. What we have turned into is all I always have fought.


And half of us all now stand, mid-drool and stupefied, in the wonderment how someone like Trump — a disrupter from this new norm — could rise to win.

It will disappoint my liberal friends to hear that I stand as no blind following zealot. For long a time, we as a nation have strayed. And we’ve needed our agent of change. The rise of Trump, in ways, became my #Walkaway from that, the bloat and cudgel of the ingratiate bully.

And for me, amid my long walk in my #Walkaway, I strive to convey words unencumbered, creatively, truthfully, in ways not wrested into anyone else’s abeyance.


~ WJJ ~


Jason James is an award-winning journalist and essayist. He previously served as a police officer and then as a Special Agent for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. He left government service in 2014. He currently serves as a writer-in-resident for TheGroncho.com and is a recurring contributor of works published on prattlon.com.



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