Washington, We Have a Problem
I see a bad moon a-rising
I see trouble on the way
I see earthquakes and lightning
I see bad times today…”—John Fogerty
Creedence Clearwater Revival released this song in April of 1969. Three months later American astronauts landed on the Moon for the first time. My dad was very into the US space program, so he saw to it that I was also. And who wouldn’t be at six years of age? Whenever something big was happening regarding the space program, Dad would discuss it with me. I don’t remember the content of any of those discussions, except for one.
Dad had a pretty good sense of humor, and was otherwise a deadpan, serious sort of guy, so the humor was sneaky. He liked pranks, so you had to stay on your toes. Lots of the pranks involved word meaning, or stories, so listening was important. The one conversation that I recall about the space program was one such conversation, or so I thought. I remember my grandparents were visiting, and this was after the astronauts had walked on the Moon. Even I knew as a six year old that this event was a big deal. It was significantly covered on the news, we discussed it with our families, we discussed it in our classes, and with the librarians in the Summer reading program, and we played with space themes with our friends. It was everywhere, and even a kid knew that.
So, when Dad said to me, “you know, there are some people who don’t believe that we have walked on the Moon”, I thought Dad was up to one of his tricks. I wasn’t going to bite on that…or so I thought. I recall being prepared and I laughed uproariously before I responded with something like, “that’s crazy! Who could possibly think that?”
When Dad first mentioned it, he wasn’t looking directly at me, and it made me that much more suspicious. It was just a casual mention about something for which I was completely incredulous. Laughing was my first salvo. I was sending a message with my confidence to my dad that I was prepared. I knew Neil Armstrong had walked on the Moon and my kindergarten teacher would back me up on that. I also knew that Dad knew it, so this couldn’t be real.
Then Dad turned to me and look me in the eye and said, “your grandmother doesn’t believe it.”
Message received. He was talking about his mom, so, not only was this not a joke, it was a tip. My grandparents would be over soon, so don’t go spouting off about a disputed concept. Not everybody sees what’s going on the same way. It was also a beginning for a lesson about perspective. Dad’s explanation was that a person born in 1900 had great difficulty believing that we had traveled to something which had seemed unreachable for all of her life. There was no gradual development of this possibility for her. It was just suddenly real…so it wasn’t real at all.
I fear that we are in a very similar position right now. The difference is, we are the nearly 60, nearly 70, and nearly 80 year olds in this perspective. Our certainty is the stability of the United States government. Incredulity applies to the idea that we may be headed for civil war.
Poof! There is the alarmism. There goes the credibility. Look, I can’t make a case that we are headed for civil war. No one can. Not yet, anyway. But, I did enjoy history as a student, and I can cite certain unfortunate similarities to historical events just prior to the last time our country pulled apart. There are many things to choose from, and I will only mention a few of the most interesting. So, how about, in February 1861, a group of insurgents tried to attack the Capitol to stop the counting and the certification of Lincoln’s electoral victory? I don’t need to ask you if it sounds familiar. We are here. The main difference is, the siege on the Capitol did not succeed that year. Security stopped them.
As it turned out, 3 Congressmen and 11 Senators continued to deny Lincoln’s win, and advocated for their states to secede from the Union. Technically, the expulsion occurred because of the secession, but in our current situation, secession is not the issue…yet. The thing we need to address right now is that it appears that people within government are at least sympathetic to the insurrectionist’s position, if not totally aligned. The problems with these positions are many. The biggest problem is that even sympathy with this position has no factual basis. None. People have already died for this and there is nothing to aThe US needs to know who they are, and how many there are. That will determine a lot.
Another problem with a modern civil war is territory. What I had previously thought of as an insurmountable problem was that we are intermingled as a society. We are not divided in large territories between plantation economy and proto-industrial economy. In the build up to having divided loyalties, how someone got their daily bread was very influential. The problem with our current situation is that loyalty question may have already been decided. It doesn’t solve the question of how the enemy state will function, but they are already operating on the nonsense of conspiracy theories, so pragmatism has already not functioned as an inhibitor. That cow is already out of the barn, and is being ridden by Elvis.
It is early still, but the main inhibitor has been corporations. There is a good news/bad news aspect to that. The good news is that corporations currently favor the United States over some Rebel entity. The bad news is that corporations do not have the same priorities as “the people”…or people. Corporations can change their allegiance for their own reasons. People have more control over government. That’s why government exists. So, if some portion has walked away and given its allegiance to an enemy, the territory issue is somewhat ameliorated. An enemy will still need to grab some territory, but they already have a foot in…everywhere.
“Hope you got your things together
Hope you are quite prepared to die
Looks like we’re in for nasty weather
One eye is taken for an eye…”—John Fogerty
Right now, I feel a bit like my grandmother. I have a hard time believing that all that was will change so dramatically, or already has. Not too long ago I was saying that such a thing was not possible. Then I feel my Dad say, you know, two credentialed private security workers have already been arrested with arms, and trying to badge into areas where they did not belong. We are just 71 hours from the inauguration of a new President, and no one seems to know what is going to happen. The whole world will be watching to see if Joe Biden can walk on the surface of a free democracy in three days. Good luck, Joe. I fear that the enemy may already be inside the gates.
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