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  • jonmarkfisher

Was a Seeing for Ourselves official once a lawbreaker himself? Probably.

In the nineteen seventies, he would flirt with both smuggling and money laundering—neither for profit, simply favors, arising out of time spent on the Hippie Trail to the East (photo below) when free, white, and 21 (as the classic statement of American privilege has it). Like many young men in every era and of any background, he found peer pressure hard to resist; if caught, he might have needed extraordinary good fortune to escape with American probation. (Others on the Trail, tempted to carry back west a load of hashish from Herat or Kabul in the charming Afghanistan of the time—the drug included in the price of a hotel room—were only dissuaded by rumors of summary execution carried out by Iranian border guards of one long-haired young Westerner who had tried this path to easy money.)

Like the program photographers portrayed in In a Whole New Way, he would come to regard this previous self as an unknown country, natural desistance having ultimately settled in.

It so happens that he can trace his ancestry on his maternal grandmother's side back to a long line of horse thieves (at least in the telling of his maternal grandfather).

Meanwhile, the grandfather of another SFO official (the latter a white New Yorker and member of the Silent Generation) found himself deported back to Italy upon discovery that he had robbed a stagecoach in the old country.

The takeaways?

1. The distinction between "offenders" and the rest of us may sometimes only be a matter of getting caught.

2. Criminal behavior probably characterizes all families to some degree.

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