My latest newspaper column:
Well, knock me down and call me Cliven: a bunch of patriotic ammosexuals have battled past uncaged sage grouse and stormed an empty building in Oregon, protesting the jailing of arsonists. Because if we can’t burn stuff wherever we want, what’s next? Stop signs at intersections? My suggestion: fence the building off, invite as many others of the Bundiose as want in, turn off electricity and water and ignore them. Then, when the Viagra runs out, lock ‘em up. Criminals and seditious (if borderline comical) terrorists, they deserve nothing less. (The press calls them “peaceful.” Imagine the terminology had it been Black Lives Matter or “Occupy.” Or Muslim-Americans.)
I’ll guess those people, assuming they claim any belief in democracy (clearly, they don’t understand it), are supporters of Trump or Cruz. Each bases his campaign on grievance and resentment, haranguing about non-existent tyranny, loss of liberty, impending takeover by roving gangs of atheist Muslim ISIS immigrants. Freedom, they warn, is threatened everywhere, starting with penalties for illegally grazing or conflagrating on government lands, leading directly to rounding up Christians and poking them with Sharia sticks.
So those tough guys who, in their minds, would have fought their way across beaches of WWII and through jungles of Vietnam (having mostly found it inconvenient to join the current military), grabbed up their long guns and bandoliers, braved a wintering wildlife preserve and a building on holiday, to defend America by breaking its most fundamental citizen compact.
Maybe by the time this column is published we’ll have heard from Trump and Cruz; I predict they won’t outright condemn such lawlessness. They’ll blame it on Obama, sad that such actions have become necessary, as we peer from our barricaded homes to see true Americans marched off in chains, mules pulling wagons because gas is illegal, shards of former greatness falling from the skies like WKRP turkeys, while praise for turgid “militiamen” blares from every right-wing radio station and from Rupert’s and Roger’s propaganda central.
These are intractably delusional, selfish people whose real problem is that democracy is the opposite of selfish. Depending on a shared sense of common goals, it recognizes that a society made of people unwilling to compromise turns to totalitarianism. For America, lasting freedom requires making the occasional sacrifice, accepting constraints that won’t appeal to everyone. Holding fire till the next election. And if that one doesn’t work out, till the next. Or the next. Recognizing that not getting everything one wants is the price of living in a republic as enduring and creative and resilient as ours. Given its rejection of such ideals, it’s amazing it took as long as it did for the present-day Republican Party to give itself over to totalitarian demagogues, while convincing its carefully blinded voters it’s really about defending freedom.
Couch it, deny it, paint it with pretty words and trickle it down: today’s Republican party and those who claim allegiance to it (I aver, yet again, that I respect true conservatives and wish their remnants controlled the current party) are only about rationalizing selfishness and staggering short-sightedness. For what will be the inevitable result if our country turns entirely to the agenda of those would-be leaders? If the takeover in neighboring Oregon is the inevitable result of Trump’s and Cruz’ and Fox “news’” round-the-clock suborning of treason, it’s weak tea compared to the greater implications for us all. Because whatever else might be true about those melodramatic “patriots,” they’ve suffered nothing like the struggles of hopelessness and impoverishment faced by those fellow citizens of the government they so love to hate, whose numbers would increase exponentially were Republican priorities to overtake our country.
What happens to kids growing up in poverty, who’ve been told they don’t matter, denied decent education, healthcare, jobs, and hope? From unwillingness on the part of the already-haves to provide a helping hand, they’ll have no options but failure or crime, costing way more than aid denied. If it’ll help, wetland warriors, consider social justice the ultimate form of selfishness. Then take your self-important fantasies and go home.
Sorry: the Christmas truce is over. Seeing pus, a surgeon must drain it from the body politic.