In a United States not so far away and not so long ago, common sense muscled lunatic ideas to the fringes and held them there.
Where we could poke proper fun at the hare-brained ideas, knowing they were toothless.
It is not so anymore. Recent political developments give many of us the queasies that the brain spasms on the left and right have escaped their confines and are now gaining toeholds in the national discourse.
In the wake of the killing of George Floyd under the knee of Minneapolis, Minn., police officer Derek Chauvin in 2020, I was sickened to read about all the scrannel voices on the far left who were demanding that cities defund police.
Some said “defund” was a poor choice of words for what had been intended as a suggestion to pull back on some of the services we have heaped on the backs of police in recent years and let them return to policing. But the more shrill voices on the left made it clear that “defunding” was exactly what they meant.
I could not go there. I cannot go there. I will not go there.
Let’s be clear: defunding police is a stupid idea. No, no, not merely stupid. That’s much too short, lacks oomph … How about “stooooooooopid?” I cannot believe people actually imagined that defunding police would be a swell idea. Isn’t personal safety at the most basic level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?
But no sooner had I indignantly turned the page on that idea than I read on the opposite side the crowd on the far right gassing about defunding the FBI — possibly even the U.S. Attorney General’s Office — because they had the stones to investigate and bring charges against a certain former president.
Uh, er, um wouldn’t eliminating the FBI also defund the police? Would shuttering the FBI and putting its 30,000 employees out of work not make us all less safe? Has the phrase “cognitive dissonance” lost all of its meaning? I guess the answer depends on whose ox is being gored.
Only last week I read an article in Rolling Stone magazine about a new stinkeroo thought up by people who want to turn the United States into a Christian Nationalist nation.
Seems the fellows responsible for what’s known as The Lancaster Patriot Podcast want to bring back the ancient biblical practice of stoning adulterers. They say it’s not that they want to do it, but the option ought to be available. No behind-closed-door stuff, no sirree, just smash in the miscreants’ skulls with rocks right out in the open. That’d clean up a big problem in the land, by cracky.
Where are we going? How long until we hear talk about taking that old sentimental journey back to culture’s palmiest days, when we burned heretics in the public square and got in as close as we could to the sizzling unfortunate to get a whiff? Hey, bro, what do you say we put a few sinners on the wrack, turn the screws, then go out and get ourselves a brewsky?
And with all the talk out there about book burnings, it’s hard not to draw a parallel with Nazi Germany. Haven’t those people ever read “Fahrenheit 451?” This stuff is about as un-American as it can get.
Robert Whale can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.