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We fondly refer to our little corner of Paradise as “the bubble,” as we are surrounded here in the Westernmost reaches of the Florida Panhandle with natural beauty, delightful climate, gentle breezes off the Santa Rosa Sound, peace, silence and tranquility, and some of the most friendly people we have ever had the pleasure of meeting. As we watched wonderful places we had enjoyed visiting, like Portland, Seattle, and Chicago and places we had fallen in love with, like San Francisco, be ripped apart by savages and/or soiled by the filth of the decadent and depraved, we cozily comforted ourselves in the “sure” knowledge that, to use a phrase with sinister underpinnings, “it couldn’t happen here.”
We were wrong.
The warnings we heard from so many that you may not be interested in barbarians like Antifa and Black Lives Matter but they are definitely interested in you might well have started making a preliminary showing here after all.
Almost literally next door to our new home in “the bubble”, there is a large wildlife preserve. It is as lovely a place for a nice stroll as one can be blessed with. Recently, a very pleasant walkway was built through the width of the woods, called The Godwin Crossover, in honor of the family which donated the preserve to the local government years ago. It was a most welcome addition to the neighborhood as it affords all who come here who want to experience it and, most importantly, respect –the beauty and serenity and inspiration it offers to one and all.
A sign at both entrances proclaims quite clearly that no “motorized” vehicles are allowed. Sadly, it does not go further and spell out in words specific enough for those who are cognitively challenged that no graffiti was to be applied to the handsome beams and planks of which the Crossover was constructed.
Yesterday afternoon, on a bike ride which took me across the Crossover, I was shocked, sickened might be a better word, to see red spray paint scrawled across the side railing with the name of either one of the street thugs who graced us with their “art” or, probably more likely, an enemy they hoped to implicate in their despicable deed.
To those who may say that my reaction may be what the Bard had in mind when he wrote the words “Much Ado About Nothing” I would answer that those few ounces of red spray paint represent to me that the barbarians are not at the gate, they are through the gate, just as the mob tore down the gate to the private community in St. Louis where Mr. and Mrs. McCloskey had their beautiful home assaulted and by which they were personally threatened with serious bodily harm or worse. I am quite sure that the residents of those suburbs of Portland and Seattle and Minneapolis never dreamed their quiet and contented life of “living the dream” would be suddenly invaded by shrieking hooligans in their street and on their lawns screaming every known obscenity at them in the middle of the night because — as I write this I realize how surreal it is that this is happening in America — they are white.
Yes, I know that folks who live in bubbles should not cast petty little complaints about a little bit of spray paint. I am also painfully aware that this kind of unpleasantness pales in comparison with the myriad of serious, monumental, sea-changing events happening every day –at times it seems like every hour. I do recall, however, a very prominent and highly respected scholar named James Q. Wilson created what became known as the “broken windows policing” theory of law enforcement. That theory, put into effect by then-Mayor Giuliani of New York City, held that the full force of the law should be brought to bear on perpetrators as soon as they start even the pettiest of offenses against the public good, such as, obviously, breaking the windows out of storefronts, etc. Giuliani’s enforcement of what was at that time a very controversial approach to policing is widely credited with the rapid clean up of the filth and disorder which had theretofore ruled mid-town Manhattan. How much better off would the battle-worn citizens and small business owners of Portland be right now had they had a Mayor with that kind of courage instead of the pusillanimous and pathetic excuse of a Mayor they have had through riots which have now been going on for months?
I am sure my reaction of sickness at that grotesque defacement was at least in part a product of the anxiety we all feel about Election Day and the days (weeks? months?) of almost-certain upheaval to follow. The emotion I felt was one of real and genuine apprehension that if these petty criminals could enter and soil, even slightly, a residential area with as close to a non-existent crime rate as possible, as has been observed by many, the outcome of the election will be irrelevant. Either way, we will have hell to pay.
Long ago, in the immediate aftermath of World War I, the Irish poet W.B. Yeats warned us about days in which all control is lost. The title is The Second Coming, but the third and fourth lines speak directly to us over the century since this was written:
The Second Coming
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
I confess I am very, deeply, gravely troubled by what may be coming our way. The eminent author Michel Anton, creator of the iconic essay The Flight 93 Election in the days leading up to the 2016 election, chose these words as a portion of the title of the first chapter of his new book about the current election, The Stakes, America At The Point Of No Return:
Be Afraid, Very Afraid
While my life experiences and long journey to this remove simply will not permit me to sound like some triggered little “pajama boy” cowering type and say “I’m afraid”, I am admitting that I am deep-in-my-bones concerned at the sheer havoc we may be facing in very short order.
@susanquinn was spot on with her post A Lose-Lose Election For Americans.
How many bright, wise, learned, accomplished, competent, skilled men and women have said throughout history, especially contemporary history, “It can’t happen here”?
It can and will, if “Things fall apart” and “Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.”Published in