“When ‘happily ever after’ fails
And we’ve been poisoned by these fairy tales
The lawyers clean up all details.”—Don Henley
I seem to spend a lot of time these days screaming at screens.
I realize that is not a good indication of mental health, but be they computer screens or TV screens, what I see on both is so self-defeating, so infuriating, so frustrating, that I can’t help (not unlike good ole Howard Beal in “Network,”) blurting it out: “What’s the matter with you people?”
What ever happened to all of the things that used to be the taken for granted hallmarks of daily existence in this country? What happened to common sense and common decency and simple manners and knowing how to act in public, for heaven’s sake?
In contemporary America, all we see and all we hear are the screeching voices of the extreme among us, the over-the-top rantings and ravings of the extremist ideologues on the far left and far right of the political spectrum who are not only at war with each other, but tossing out all reason like an old sock, also with anybody and everybody else who do not agree with them.
That’s crazy, folks. And far too many of us in the middle are listening to these respective purveyors of poison, taking sides in a war we used to be too smart to even think of fighting and that is even crazier.
A couple of weeks ago, I quite rightly took to this space to condemn the actions of deplorable human beings (I assume we can at least agree that Nazi’s skinheads, Klansmen, white separatists and assorted other fascists are deplorable.) for waving around assault rifles, giving Nazi salutes, beating other people up and generally starting a riot in Charlottesville, Va.
So, what happens this past weekend?
At another “march” in Berkeley, Calif., another bunch of thugs, this one identifying itself as an anti-fascist organization (Antifa) don masks and hoods and starts another melee, beating and kicking a peaceful right-wing group, which prompts me to ask two other questions:
What the hell is the matter (just in general) with all you folks in Berkley? And don’t you idiots in the masks and hoodies realize that what you are doing is not “anti-fascist?” It is rather the very definition of fascism, making you in no way better than the other idiots you ostensibly organized to oppose?
One is as bad as the other and once upon a time, we the people had enough gumption to call all of this hate-driven behavior for what is really is—un-American.
And if I can return to the clearly lost concept of common sense for a moment, allow me to also ask, when did so large a slice of the American population decide that they are and should be as fragile as Aunt Ethel’s Swiss tea cup collection?
When did our colleges and universities, supposedly our bastions of truth, dedicated to the exchange of ideas, decide to start censoring speech and turning away speakers because what they have to say may not fit into that institution’s definition of what’s politically correct? (Are you listening, Berkeley?) When did those same higher learning centers feel the need to create “safe spaces” for not their kindergartners, but their young men and women who are suddenly so sensitive as to need protection from the spoken word.
Their infinitely superior contemporaries are fighting fanatics in far away hellholes with AK-47s and RPGs, bent on killing them every day and these “future leaders” are scared of and wounded by words?
Why, the poor things.
I’ve lived a long time and seen this country go through a lot of phases, and I am here to tell you, folks, it just has not been all that long ago that if somebody said something offensive he would either just be ignored or slapped or punched in the nose, but there was no danger of the offended one dashing off to bed with a case of the vapors.
I sometimes think it possible that we are too close, lack adequate perspective to see, or to realize for what it is, just how crazy we as a society have become. What we do makes no sense but what we don’t makes no sense, either. It’s as if the nation has lost sight of all the landmarks that used to both define and guide it and America is lost within its own boundaries with too many of its citizens wandering, quite aimlessly, into some of her darker corners.
We are, perhaps, most in need of a resounding national finger snap, something to bring us to our senses and allow us to recognize again what it is to be an American. And to recognize again what is not.
Ray Mosby is editor and publisher of the Deer Creek Pilot in Rolling Fork.