Some folks on my side of the fence preach civility and accommodation with regard to the tens of millions of other folks who think the 45th President of the US is this holy land’s savior.
Every now and then some person, pure of heart and with the best of possible intentions, tells us on social media or in an editorial that we must listen respectfully to the views of all our fellow citizens, that we must heed their utterances and feelings, take them into account, and even — perhaps — grant them credibility via our laws.
By and large I buy that. The key half of that sentence being by and large.
I’ve come to realize that people want guns to hunt with and for protection and that doesn’t make them wild-eyed killers. Growing up and living most of my adult life in a big city, often in tough neighborhoods, I’d seen so much random and senseless gunplay that I, for the longest time, yelled for the abolishment of guns. I mean, I’d hit the living floor upon hearing gunshots on any number of occasions through my later years in Chicago. I’d seen gangbangers chasing each other down the street, firing wildly behind them — without taking aim, of course. I’d read about people living in adjacent apartments being shot and sometimes killed when someone next door fired a gun, their homes being so close and the walls so thin. Once gangbangers in my neighborhood in East PIlsen engaged rivals in a gunfight and a little two-year-old girl in a stroller two blocks away was hit by one of their stray bullets. She died within minutes.
The only conclusion I’d thought I could come to was guns ought to be outlawed. Period.
Then I moved down to Louisville, Kentucky and, later, to south central Indiana. I met people who spoke dreamily about glory days when their fathers would take them out hunting. Another guy I knew, who lived just off Lake Monroe, one of the most liberal guys imaginable, told me he kept a couple of rods handy because, were a home invader try to get in, the sheriff might not be able to come to his and his wife’s rescue for 45 minutes or an hour.
See, in my old Chicago neighborhoods, the cops responded within a couple of minutes of me calling them. Sometimes, it seemed, as soon as I’d hang up the phone.
Accordingly, my feelings about guns have evolved.
That seems to be the essence of people’s calls for listening respectfully to the views of all our fellow citizens and taking their feelings and experiences into account. It’s being an adult.
Yet there are limits. And the Republican Party, today’s Republican Party, birthed of Richard Nixon’s law and order appeals of the ’60s, groomed on the anti-busing activism of the ’70s, emboldened by the dog whistles of the Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush campaigns of the 80s, and schooled by Newt Gingrich’s GOPac Memo demonization of Democrats and liberals in the ’90s, has gone to a place where listening to them, hearing their plaints, hoping to accommodate them, is as senseless to me as trying to have a civilized chat with someone who mainlined 10mg of PCP a quarter of an hour ago.
How else can I describe the ravings of the people who are joking about the skull-bashing that Nancy Pelosi’s husband suffered last week?
That’s what all this inane polarization has brought us to. It’s a polarization that’s been nourished for some three decades now by the likes of O’Reilly, Jones, Limbaugh, Breitbart, Bannon, Carlson and all the rest of the squealing, bleating, shrieking blowhards and provocateurs who fancy themselves political observers.
They’re “political observers” in the same way an arsonist might describe himself as a pyrotechnical researcher.
Any number of political candidates, wits, and wags in the last week have cracked jokes about the near-deadly assault and have tried to minimize or even justify it. A bunch of internet idiots have suggested the assailant was really Paul Pelosi’s scorned lover. Virginia’s governor, running for reelection, has exhorted voters to elect Republicans so they can send Nancy home to sit with her recovering husband. All this eliciting millions of likes, rousing laughter, and ear-splitting cheers.
A huge swath of the populace has lost its freaking mind. A lot of them have guns. Most of them are slaves to their own hates and fears. Their “savior” has told them the 2020 election was stolen and they believe him with all their hearts despite there being no evidence such a thing happened. They view the January 6th insurrection as healthy dissent, a “normal tourist visit.”
CPAC, QAnon, nativists, white supremacists, neo-fascists, anti-semites, chemtrail-ists, virulent anti-United Nation-ists, 2nd Amendment fetishists who warn of the coming door-to-door gun seizures, conspiracy theorists who believe Anthony Fauci and Bill Gates developed COVID to loose upon the world so they can take the planet over, or that FEMA concentration camps are in the offing, or…, for chrissakes, pick any deranged idea you’d like — they’ve flocked to the Republican Party.
There was an age, in many people’s lifetime’s, when being a conservative, being a Republican, meant simply you didn’t want too much government spending or taxing. When you thought government regulation was an overreach, that the people and the free market were wise enough to ensure that corporations and their products wouldn’t harm us all that much.
I’d never agree with them but at least I didn’t think they were demented.
I can’t say that anymore. And I lack the saintly patience to listen to their ravings anymore. Their feelings, their experiences, their views — none of it — are of any interest to me anymore.
It’s not the time for civility and accommodation anymore.