Today I was driving in a nearby quiet neighborhood. I was meeting another car in a street narrowed to one lane by two vehicles parked on opposite sides. The occupant of one, a young man, was sort of a traffic cop, though that wasn’t necessary. But it was a nice touch. But mostly I noticed the young mans pick-up which had a very large Gadsden flag mounted at the edge of the truck bed. These days that coiled snake yellow flag seems favored by people who fancy themselves rebels (my opinion).
For those who like to think that we’re back on the right track in this country, I beg to differ. The Gadsden Guy was only the most recent piece of evidence that trouble is not that far beneath the surface, and the trouble will likely come from within our own citizens including friends, neighbors and relatives.
Much of the inciting we see every day in the American commons of internet or television especially. Role models are governors and state legislators saying “go to hell” on things like masking, etc. Or people who disrupt school board meetings, on and on. Why used to be rare has become common.
We’re a big country with lots of people, and there are brilliant and diabolical organizers out there who are willing and able to make trouble, and who have plenty of money to work with, and willing minions at the local level. And of course there’s the tribal leader who’s modus operandi is to get revenge and enlists angry people in assorted ways most of us probably don’t see.
Many of us have friends and relatives who are police and military, former and present, some who were or still are open and even outspoken support of anti-government, though they are part of this same government. We tend to close our eyes to this: this a free country, after all.
But the rubber has hit the road. Selective enforcement of the law: in the case of January 6, a slow response to a crisis because the people in the chain of command who had to authorize action, delayed response. We were accustomed to a usual and customary role of our law keepers, and their chain of command. And we still are. But the deviations from normal in the recent – and not so recent – past have been significant.
Timothy McVeigh, who murdered hundreds in Oklahoma City in 1995, was a Boy Scout and from the military, we must remember. Today’s militia groups include in their membership people with lots of military experience, with nothing good on their minds. Perhaps we are fortunate to have witnessed the graphic demonstration of this on Jan. 6, first hand; and witnessing ever since the efforts made by some to disrupt and upset any investigation or punishment of those involved. I wonder what the guy with the Gadsden Flag was saying?
This has been evolving for years.
Just this week I was going through a box of papers, and came across something I knew I had, somewhere, but couldn’t find. There it was, something I wrote back in the fall of 2001, including three pages from a U.S. News and World Report from September, 2000. Here it is: 9 11 2001 Three vignettes. Look especially at pages 3 and 4, keeping in mind that this is from 20 years ago. It is worth a look as the 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001, approaches.
I have no idea what if anything will happen from this point on. Nobody does. But you can bet that preparations are being made, just in case. We can no longer be naive. There is doubtless planning taking place.
Each of us is either part of the solution, or of the problem. Where do you stand?
POSTNOTE: My reflections 20 years after 9-11-2001 on the anniversary day, Saturday 9-11-2021. (9-11 was a Tuesday in 2000.)