The art of obstruction, obfuscation and destruction

Published 2:32 pm Monday, August 17, 2020

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If the City of Selma were a living, breathing human – her heart near historic Tabernacle Baptist and the Edmundite Missions’ headquarters, her legs extending along the Edmund Pettus Bridge, her arms outstretched along Dallas or Highland and her mind near Wallace – then Selma Mayor Darrio Melton would surely be guilty of some brutal and long-lasting crime of passion against her.

The assaults perpetrated against her by Melton have been going on for years now and the latest, detailed on today’s front page, is perhaps the most vicious, as it stands to impede a life preserver being tossed out to the city as it flounders in dark and shaky waters, waters in which it would surely drown if Melton had another four years to hold her head beneath Adam’s ale.

Melton has mastered the trio of dark arts so masterfully executed by scapegrace statesmen: obstruction, obfuscation and destruction, all of which he has wielded like a crooked wand in the hands of some crazed and bearded wizard looking to rule the world, even if he must raze it in the process.

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When it comes to obstruction, the hammer in the mayor’s toolkit, Melton is surely a master – if obstruction can be defined as impeding without action, similar to a coup without violence, then it has been used over and over again to deleterious effect – but he is no less savvy in the art of obfuscation, or what Orwell would have called doublethink, essentially the art of talking a lot and saying very little, surely the monkey wrench in his workbox.

Evidence of Melton’s use of the aforementioned tactics is by now so familiar to the people of this city that it hardly deserves being discussed any further – surely, I’ve spent plenty of my time over the past few years reporting on and criticizing every instance I’ve been able to bear witness to – but it is the byproduct of these wicked wiles, utter destruction and the chaos it creates, that has caused so much trauma.

Perhaps Melton was unaware that overuse of his hammer and monkey wrench would cause long-lasting damage or perhaps his kit was without more delicate tools, but it certainly appears that the mayor knows well the damaging repercussions of his actions but acts all the same, not in spite of the damage but because the damage was the desired result all along.

In this specific instance, there is no doubt that Melton knows well the result of his belligerent childishness – if he impedes progress at the St. James Hotel, which requires not one malicious word or action, only his customary inaction, whatever the reason, he does so at the risk of Selma’s future economic health and vitality.

While more than one source has opined on the reason for the delay, most asserting that it stems from a campaign event hosted at the hotel by mayoral candidate Miah Jackson and the mayor’s belief that the event is some violation of ethics or a conflict of interest, it’s largely irrelevant at this point as the effect is the same.

Sadly, the City of Selma is not flesh and blood and, as such, it can’t speak up for itself, defend or protect itself or act in its own self-interest – no, for that it requires the voices and actions of those who call this place home and we must not shirk from that duty at this most delicate and important time.

But hark, the evil potion made from the mayor’s mixture of obstruction, obfuscation and destruction, though years in the making, is not without an antidote and, unlike those found in fairy tales that rest atop mountains or behind a dragon’s fiery vigilance, it’s within our grasp to hold it and apply it to the various wounds now plaguing our city’s body, inside and out.

With any luck, just one application will be enough.