IN THE WIND addresses the twinning of the actions taken by the Federal government during the Vietnam War era and the ramifications of the Patriot Act. In both cases, the civil liberties of American citizens are threatened in the name of national security.
The two time periods are neatly drawn together in Barbara Fister’s IN THE WIND, a term that describes those who disappear seemingly from one second to the next. Anni Koskinen always wanted to be a police officer. The two people in the world with whom she is closest are Jim and Nancy Tilquist who befriended her when she had no one else. Jim’s job as an FBI agent had encouraged Anni to enter law enforcement. She succeeds, quickly becoming a detective, but loses it all when she testifys against a fellow police officer accused of brutality. Newly armed with a private investigator’s license, Anni is contacted in the middle of the night by Father Sikora, pastor of St. Larry’s parish, and deeply committed to those on the fringe of society. Father Sikora asks Anni to take Rosa Saenz out of town. Anni knows Rosa from St. Larry’s outreach programs; Rosa was a dependable presence in the program to feed the homeless.
Anni stops at an ATM before she and Rosa head to Minnesota. Suddenly, Anni is accosted by two men and she fights using all the things she learned in the police academy. When she is subdued, she discovers that her attackers are FBI and Rosa has disappeared. The situation becomes complicated when Anni learns that Rosa is really Verna Basswood, wanted by the FBI for the murder of agent Arne Tilquist, Jim’s father. Rosa insists that she did not take part in the killing, that she is being used to hide the identity of the real shooter.
The situation becomes truly complicated when Sophie, Jim and Nancy’s daughter, decides to save Rosa from being arrested. Sophie is bi-polar and is entering a manic period when she takes part in hiding Rosa. Emotions in the Latino commuity become aroused when images of Rosa as Our Lady of Guadalupe begin appearing around the community. The situation becomes truly dangerous when a demonstration regarding Native American rights is held in the same place and on the anniversary of the anti-war demonstration that led to Arne Tilquist’s death. When white supremacists try to capture the crowd for their cause, Anni becomes a target of one of its most dangerous members. Things go beyond the pale when Anni realizes that the police don’t want Rosa’s name cleared, that she is of better use as a scapegoat
IN THE WIND moves quickly. There is no confusion of time periods. The people are victims of actions taken, for some, more than a lifetime ago. The civil rights violations promulgated as required to protect the US from terrorism as allowed by the Patriot Act are not very different than those taken without benefit of law in the 60′s and 70′s when patriotism was defined by support for a war that could not be won. Forty years later we are in a war for no reason and “real Americans” are defined by their support of another war that can not be won.