The very dumbest thing I heard yesterday, all day, was surprise. Over and over—from Rick Santorum to Ben Sasse to Mitt Romney—the shock and wonder of it all. How did we get here? This is not who we are!
We know goddamned well how we got here. And this is definitely who some of us are—and who some of us always have been.
Someone wrote to me a few hours into the scene yesterday afternoon, saying I’d predicted this all along. I thought, “I can’t believe I bothered to.”
I am not very smart. I’m sure I know nothing more than you know about the people in that scene, no less and no more.
They are not truly desperate people, just dysfunctional ones. Did you see any truly poor people out in those scenes yesterday? It would have been easier to find an English major. These guys all looked like owners of man-caves, or at least of big-screen TVs. Yesterday was and always will be by far, the most exciting day of most of their lives.
They don’t have a fraction of the courage of John Lewis or the spiritual principle of Martin Luther King. Though I hope a lot of these people go to jail, there will be no Letters from a Birmingham Jail coming out.
All day, watching these people, my own facial recognition technology kept taking me back to the hapless plotters hanged after the Lincoln assassination.
I didn’t disagree with Chuck Schumer when he compared this to Pearl Harbor. It was terribly upsetting; watching these scenes, my heart was pounding just like yours. But it’s more traumatic as a graphic image of something we’d known existed for a long time.
The world was also on fire on December 6, 1941, but it took this to get a country off its ass.
A friend writes on Facebook, “I heard a very poignant question today: Is this the end of a period of time that represents evil, or is it the start of one? I’m hanging on to a shred of hope given the election results. But fear today is the start of many dark days ahead.”
I don’t think so.
These people are not hungry enough, fit enough, smart enough or courageous enough to carry out a whole war. They’re horny, more like. Horny for mayhem. And as much trouble as they can cause, horny men do not a movement make. So we’ll see an occasional terrorist attack from individual nutbags, or pockets of them, and we will have to endure that, as we always have. Remember Oklahoma City? Hell, remember Nashville?
Meanwhile, the question is, will the shock of what the rest of us saw yesterday—everyone’s near-tearful dismay—turn the rest of our eyes, if not in admiration of a common vision of America the Beautiful, at least in condemnation of a shared image of America the Terrible?
I allow myself to hope, because I must.