Jefferson Davis, Christopher Coke, and the Cross-Dressing Enemy
Christopher Coke, the notorious leader of a Jamaican drug gang was captured this week. A bit ago, attempts to capture Coke led to violent street fighting that killed dozens and did not, at the time, yield up Coke. Coke is sort of an interesting figure. Although a drug leader, he has also filled the void left by corrupt officials and neoliberal policies in Jamaica, acting as a sort of Robin Hood figure who provides jobs and basic social security for Jamaicans in some of the worst slums.
Interestingly, though, authorities claim he was picked up while disguised as a woman.The New York Times, always bravely skeptical of government authority that’s not ours, warns that “government forces in other parts of the world like Iran and Pakistan have tried to discredit male rebels or dissidents by claiming that they hid in women’s clothing.”
It is not just the Iranians and Pakistanis who do such things. In 1865, when Jefferson Davis was captured by Union forces, rumors spread that he was hidden in a bonnet and women’s clothing. As in the case of Coke, accusations of Davis’ cross-dressing came after his defeat, as the vanquished enemy could be seen as weak, passive, and all of sudden lacking in virility. I suspect in both cases, feminizing the vanquished enemy helps the winners accommodate themselves to the fact that the rebels put up a much greater fight than was expected.
As one historian writes about the Davis capture: “Northern men drew on the images of impetuous Southern men, disorderly Southern women, and a former Confederate president in women’s clothes to establish ideas of Northern control over a weakened and submissive South.”
With Coke’s capture, of course, we can be sure that we will never ever see another illegal drug in America. Ever.