Thursday, August 6, 2020
Thursday, August 6, 2020

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Happy Independence Day, I Hope

I’m thinking we’re on the cusp of what I will call our “Concord Moment.” That’s when a shot fired in anger will be heard coast to coast, if not around the world, as were the shots fired in Concord, Massachusetts in 1775. The 1775 shots galvanized the seething frustration in the colonies, and drew a line that led to independence from Great Britain. Our shots may mark a similar divide.

I don’t know whether the shot will come from a homeowner defending his or her property, a motorist harassed while going about their daily rounds, or a woke activist demand that the world stop cold to compulsorily bathe in the grievous wonder of their woe.

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But it’s coming. I can feel it.

Consider the past week. Gun sales are soaring. The FBI did a record 3.9 million background checks for gun sales in June alone. Gun dealers report record sales of guns and ammunition from coast to coast.

We’re arming for some sort of apocalypse, or so it feels.

There were several near misses this week, events that were a finger twitch from calamity.

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In St. Louis, Missouri, a lawyer and his wife stood in front of their house armed, the husband with an automatic weapon, his wife with a pistol. Angry protestors walked by their home. The lawyer claims that the protestors trespassed, trampling down the gate to the private community in which he lived. He stood firm to protect his home. The protestors claim the gate was opened by a sympathetic supporter.

Prosecutors are, of course, considering charges against the homeowner. The protestors, apparently, get a pass. This is a season of appeasing the aggrieved.

Another close call in Oakland, Michigan. Two white motorists leave a public area. Two black women, a mother and daughter, confront them – the claim is the motorist’s car grazed either the mother or daughter. This quickly becomes a George Floyd moment. This only happened because of race. The white couple are racists. The couple tries to calmly disengage.

As the couple pulls away, the daughter says “Look, ma.” She throws a rock at the departing car. When the car returns, the female in the car has a gun. She’s furious.

“Who do you think you are?” She’s enraged. “Ma, ma, Call the Police,” the rock thrower screams, warming to victimhood.

Prosecutors are, of course, considering charges against the woman with the gun. The rock thrower, apparently, gets a pass. The stone was apparently propelled by “systemic racism.”

In the meantime, statues are torn down. One community decides the it just may replace a statue of Christopher Columbus with that of a trans black activist, a man revered for centuries as a discoverer of this continent to be replaced by a statue honoring a person symbolizing the rediscovery the new America dawning in our midst.

A simmering majority didn’t sign on to become adherents of Woke Nation.

I often wondered about the textbook accounts of the American revolution while learning about it in grade school. What’s the big deal over a tax on tea? As an adult, I pay far more taxes on far more things than a colonist could ever imagine. Was the revolution really about taxation without representation?

Of course, it wasn’t. Revolutions are about ways of life, and conceptions of who we are and what sort of community we want to live in.

Today, an increasingly seething and thus far largely silent minority has sat out the Covid quarantine watching while an exuberant minority takes to the streets. We’re told this new vanguard will keep burning, keep charging until they get what they want, according to Hawk Newsome, president of the Greater New York Black Lives Matter.

Really?

The electoral season has made cowards of the Democrats. Appeasing a mob to rid the nation of Trump is the new normal.

Folks weren’t rushing to gun stores last month because that is a winning governance strategy.

I’m reminded over and over again of Salem, Massachusetts, at the time of the witch trials in the seventeenth century. During a spate of mass hysteria in 1692 and 1693, more than 200 folks were accused of witchcraft, 30 were found guilty in bizarre court proceedings, and nineteen of those found guilty were executed. Then the town came to its senses.

What caused this paroxysm of craziness? Historians suggest social anxiety and the need for a scapegoat. Salem was the frontier; Indians were restless as a continent was wrested from them. Unable to confront the source of the anxiety, Salem residents turned on themselves in bizarre rituals.

We’re in a crazy season just now in the United States. Even the New York Times has fallen prey to voodoo logic.

Last Sunday’s Magazine carried a piece entitled “What Is Owed.” It was a call for reparations to African-Americans. The Times seeks to rewrite the whole of American history through the prism of 13 percent of the current population. Blacks have suffered uniquely; pay now. How’s that work?, recent immigrants wonder.

It’s a repulsive shakedown that will sooner cause civil war than race-based transfer payments carrying the force of law.

Recall when Ronald Reagan spoke of “welfare queens”? Commentators were quick to point out that the majority of public assistance recipients were white. That remains the case. Indeed, researchers recently wrote of so-called “deaths of despair” by aging white Americans who felt they no longer had a place at the table.

No reparations for them, apparently. Let them die, victims, apparently, of their gross incompetence for failing to figure out how to cash in the systemic racism that supposedly explains everything. What happens when they wake up get angry about the country being torn down around them?

The answer most Americans will have to the Times demand for what is “owed” is simple: Not a damned thing. The Spartan taunt of the Persians demanding they lay down their weapons is rising on the lips of some: “Molon Labe,” come and get them.

We’re playing with fire. Indeed, James Baldwin famously wrote of the fire next time. Well, here we are, a matchstick away from conflagration.

I explained all this to a friend the other day, sharing my fear of bloodshed to come. “Sounds like fun,” he said. His response terrified me.

We’ve lost a sense of common destiny, joint purpose, and unity of hopes and dreams. We’re a house divided and prepared if not to fall, then to suffer grievous damage. I see no way out, and it frightens me.

The winners in this season of dread?

I see them sitting in a vault somewhere in Moscow, passing expensive Cuban cigars and drinking the best Russian vodka, courtesy of Vladimir Putin.

“Congratulations, comrades,” Putin announces to his internet propagandists. “You’ve driven them insane. Their cities burn, their people hate one another, their media now propagandizes in the name of news. We did it, comrades! We won! A toast to Wolf Blitzer!”

Happy July Fourth, everyone. I still believe in the words of the Declaration of Independence, and I still intend to live by them. All men are endowed by the creator with certain inalienable rights. Government is created by the consent of the governed. And we retain rights and remain free to rebel to vindicate them.

Never in a long life have those words carried as much weight as they do today, on the cusp, I fear, of our very own Concord Moment.

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