Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sunday Column

My latest column for our local paper:

Well, just as predicted by Michele Bachmann and other members of the Legion of the Loose Screw, plans are afoot to round up patriotic Americans and put them in camps. Only thing is, having gotten tired of waiting for the government to do it, they’re doing it to themselves. 
Yessir. In the adjacent Potato Kingdom, white supremacist central, plans are being made for a heavily-guarded, multi-walled “citadel”, complete with neighborhoods, a farmers’ market, an amphitheater (for patriotic speeches!), a weapons factory, and a gun museum, to be built aside a reflecting pool. I assume they won’t be doing much reflecting on how idiotic it is. They will, however, each be equipped with an “AR-15 variant rifle and 1000 rounds of ammunition,” and a requirement to demonstrate proficiency, along with handguns, annually. 
Turning to the East, local expatriate Glenn Beck is raising money (when is he not?) to build a utopian community, along the lines, it appears, of the hippie communes of yore, or collective farms in the former Soviet Union (no fancy shops!) He calls it a libertarian paradise, though. The differences are elusive, except that he plans to allow commerce with the outside world (it’s a theme park!), taking advantage of the non-libertarian, regulated capitalism the rest of us enjoy. In selling his vision, Mr. Beck hasn’t yet gone down the path of militaristic paranoia that our neighbors have. 
As to them, well, I’m no military strategist, but it seems if you’re expecting an attack by the most powerful military in this corner of the cosmos (far as we know), gathering up all your people into one spot doesn’t seem all that wise. (They claim it’s preparation for “grid failure.” I’m unconvinced: it’s Idaho.) Maybe they haven’t gotten it under their three-cornered hats that whereas in 1776 it was “one if by land, two if by sea,” nowadays there’s also “three if by air.” 
When I was a flying doc in Vietnam, like every other flier I was issued a survival vest. Along with items that included a hacksaw blade encased in rubber for, uh, insertion in, well, you know, in case of capture, we were issued a .38 pistol and twelve rounds of ammo. Pilots being pilots, some added bandoleers with a couple hundred extra rounds. Me, I figured if I was on the ground, alone, in a situation where two hundred rounds were called for, all I really needed was one. I’d propose the same paradigm to a passel of paranoid patriots peering in peril at professional pilots plotting the paths of prodigiously powerful plummeting projectiles. But then I’m mostly a pragmatist. 
On the other hand, since there’s no chance in hell that anyone is actually coming after them, I find it comforting to know that these people will be safely stashed somewhere else. Less grandiose than Glenn Beck, who seeks two billion bucks for his project (I assume there’ll be management fees), the guys next door claim to eschew the profit motive. Liberals, though, will be “unwelcome,” as will “establishment Republicans.” Like Beck, they plan a libertarian lifestyle, where “neighbors keep their noses out of other neighbors’ business.” Good luck with that. 
If states, as some have said, are laboratories of democracy, then enclaves such as these might well be, at least, beakers. On that level, it could be interesting. After all, who could object to gatherings of people who differ from the norm? (Oh yeah. Them.) So, best wishes. It’ll be a fine experiment: how long can thousands of paranoid people packing heat (“3,500 to 7,000 families”) live together in harmony, without rules, before they start shooting each other? We may get a chance to find out. 
Meanwhile, let’s be clear about one thing: whatever these people choose to call themselves, they’re not patriots. Their beliefs differ fundamentally from those of the country for the love of which they claim sole possession. Like those demanding it after the last election, they are, in effect, seceding, rejecting the essence of living in a democracy, which is that you don’t always get your way. They abhor diversity, especially of thought. They prefer to ignore what citizenship in this country has done for them, and the fact that it’s one of a very few that would allow them to do what they’re doing. They repudiate America, and are, in effect, moving out. Just not too far away.

[First Image source
[Second Image source]

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