I spent some time reading the news over the last few days…
I think I need to repogram my browser’s ad blocker to be a news blocker, too. Just one day on a news aggregation site — just one day — read like some freaking end-times prophecy. Honestly, we’re gonna have to name this the “Yeats Era”:
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.
Remember that civil war that I said was coming? Yeah, apparently I’m not alone in that cynicism. Rasmussen did a poll on the topic (here’s a link to their article on it) and found that almost a third of the US thinks a civil war is pretty damned likely…
Wonderful. I don’t know if a poll like that is enough to turn cynicism into self-fulfilling prophecy, but I don’t particularly like where the odds are going on this one.
I understand the passion of protestors, and the deeply held beliefs on both sides. But both sides have crossed the lines that help us to function as a stable, rational society. Both sides are pushing us into confrontation and vitriol and hate that, honestly, has only one end.
When your opponent becomes an adversary that’s survivable. It ain’t great, not in any nation that was to find some form of cohesion, but it’s not Armageddon. When your adversary becomes an enemy, however…
Enemies are nefarious, they’re evil. Enemies cannot be overcome, they must be utterly defeated. Enemies must be killed and all vestiges stamped out.
The fringes of American politics are already well past the stage where any who disagree are enemies. The main body, so far, has resisted following the whackjobs into that particular madness. From the mainstream left to the mainstream right, we have been stuck at the adversary stage for several decades…and that’s something that has helped to keep us together as a nation.
Unfortunately, the numbers of those who are willing to hold back from insanity are shrinking. Ten years ago, it was maybe 10-15% of the political spectrum that was fixated on enemies and conflict. Nowadays? Now, it’s more like 50-60%.
How long until people are killed for “believing the wrong thing”? How long until people are killed for who they vote for? Or what policies they support? Once we cross that line, that path to civil war is unstoppable. Plain and simple, the descent into rage and blood will come.
Is there a way to step back? A way to stop this before we fall into that “watering the Tree of Liberty” thing?
The writer in me says, well, of course there is. There has to be a choice…it’s the only way to give your protagonist agency, and to have a plot worth following.
But the historian in me?
The historian in me is looking for somewhere to hide.
By the way, do you have any idea at all how much I regret NOT heading up to Yellowstone again this summer? I could have hidden away from all this shit…I could have lived in happy ignorance.
Hey, look, make fun of ostriches all you want, but there’s something to be said for the occasional insertion of one’s cranium into a convenient hole.