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Umbrella Man: a familiar old super-villain in a shiny new avatar

“Umbrella Man” is a character in the US protest drama straight from central casting. He’s clad head-to-toe in black, his caucasian face obfuscated by a glass-fronted gas mask, wielding a hammer in his right hand and carrying a matching black umbrella in his left.

At the periphery of a peaceful demonstration in front of a police station in St Paul, Minnesota, Umbrella Man systematically hacked away at the store windows of some nondescript retail business.

Neither possessed with outrage nor driven by desire for plunder, he presented a chilling backdrop to the otherwise young and casual crowd milling about on what looked like a gorgeous late spring afternoon.

A witness recalled him as a “creepy white dude” with a carefully crafted appearance designed to menace and intimidate any challenger. As it happened, his confronter turned out to be a chilled-out young black hipster in a pink t-shirt carrying a pizza box.

The two contrasting characters couldn’t have been more curiously juxtaposed, eliciting enough interest from onlookers for them to record the entire exchange on video.

“Pink Shirt” turned Umbrella Man around in his tracks and chased him down on his retreat across a back-lot. When Umbrella Man threatened to punch Pink Shirt in the face, it prompted the latter to look around for someone to hold his “blunt” - a detail too amusing to overlook in the retelling.

Well, it didn’t take long for the protesters to suspect that Umbrella Man was an “agent provocateur”, most likely a policeman sent to set off violence that could be used to justify use of force against the crowd. When asked directly, Umbrella Man simply replied, “Does it matter?”

The answer, of course, is Yes. It matters a great deal if the police are themselves setting off the violence, arson, looting and chaos that they then decry as criminal acts calling for the harshest crack-down.

Trump has even justified the use of America’s military against her own citizens, something without ready comparison or precedent. Anyway, forget about Trump for once, this is about Umbrella Man (and Pink Shirt).

Of course local police have denied that Umbrella Man is one of theirs, but ominously almost all those arrested for violence in the Minneapolis protests were outsiders, from states as far as Florida. If you’re a conspiracy nut (guilty as charged!), then the boxes are all checking out very nicely, thank you.

As an added bonus, Umbrella Man’s origins traces back to the grand-daddy of all conspiracies - the JFK assassination - when a bystander carrying an umbrella on a similarly sunny day twiddled it about in an apparent signal to the shooters (yes, multiple gunmen).

If the CIA killed JFK to dead-stop the Cuban peace deal, then white supremacists sent in Umbrella Man to match-light the race war - so the narrative goes. After all any good conspiracy needs some shadowy puppet master playing the public at their pleasure.

Not just a fanciful fable, government officials themselves affirm that as many as 80% of rioters arrested for destructive behavior are not members of the communities they were ravaging.

The question then begs itself as to who would benefit from the wanton destruction of private property and the challenge to the rule of law? Sometimes the likeliest answer is the simplest one: those who would replace property, and reinforce rule of law.

We’ve seen this movie before, haven’t we? Terrorist attacks and global financial crises that wreak havoc in markets and result in draconian laws. And the poor get poorer and rich just keep getting richer.

As Baron de Rothschild infamously quipped, “the time to buy is when there’s blood in the streets...even if the blood is your own.” Umbrella Man, like any self-respecting super-villain worth his salt, wants to create a crisis that will threaten humanity itself. So far, I’d say it’s all going according to plan.

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