12 juillet 2016

ENG - Dallas lone shooter: reminiscence of Plan B?

A black sniper was responsible for the death of five police officers  in Dallas, on the 7st of July, 2016.

A picture of the sniper, Micah Johnson, extracted from his Facebook account, shows some ancient attributes of black radicalism : the Pan African flag, popular during the 1960's, the clenched-fist salute of the black athletes in Mexico and a Black Power drawing.

In Himes' last novel, left unfinished, Plan B (1964 - chapter 8), two white policemen are patrolling in Harlem.
"Give them a burst from the siren', said Pan.
Instead, there was a bust from an automatic weapon from the front window of a third-floor tenement and the windscreen of the police cruiser exploded in a burst of iridescent safety glass. Not to mention the fact that Pan and Van were riveted to their black plastic seats by a row of 7.62 caliber rifle bullets that passed through their diaphragms."

At first sight, the conclusion is  different. Micah Jones was killed by a tele commanded robot, the sniper in Plan B by a 105 mm tank cannon but Himes emphasizes the unhumanity of the tank : "No human life was visible within it. It was shaped like a turtle with an insect's antenna. It moved on rubber-treated caterpillar tracks. It didn't make any noise. It came quickly and silently, as if it knew where it was going and was in a hurry to get there."

Of course, the current situation is also different with a black president,  a black chief of police in Dallas, the importance of social networks and the public recognition of police brutality against black people. Still the modus operandi both of the killing and of the elimination of the sniper takes us back to the racial wars of the 60's and to Himes' power of imagination.

1 commentaire:

  1. How interesting to see your comments about "Plan B" and the Dallas shooter. I was about to mention that there is an article on the same subject on Chester Himes facebook page.Here is the link http://theconversation.com/chester-himes-unfinished-crime-novel-is-an-unsettling-portent-of-dallas-shootings-62362

    I believe Chester Himes fulfilled the role of a visionary writer. I don't think he chose to be one. It happens to writers that are relevant and ignored (or frowned upon) at the same time. Based on his interviews, I am of the opinion that he had no political skills nor ambitions. However he was capable of translating Black American feelings (he called them Soul brothers and sisters) so well especially for an expatriate. This uncanny gift should be one more proof (if we ever needed one) that Chester Himes was one of the best in his field, by that I mean literature.


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