Why Post-Inauguration Reminds Me of Post-9-11

I have been struggling at this keyboard since the "election."  I start an article — and the news cycle runs it over like a steamroller.  I don't think anyone wants to hear anything very subtle or, if you'll forgive an elitist word, very "nuanced" right now.  I don't think anyone needs convincing, either.  We are past all that.  Neither do I want to contribute to the raging storm of half-truths and conjectures.  I try furiously to make sense of what's going on, but the smothering blanket of censorship has already begun to take its toll.

The "mainstream" media were playing around recently with likening the "invasion" of the Capitol building to 9/11.  Actually, I am reminded very much of 9/11 — not by the "invasion" itself, but by the tenor of the reaction since.

I remember 9/11, as does nearly everyone who happened to live through it.  On that otherwise quiet morning twenty years ago, angry men with a dangerous vision destroyed more than a couple of skyscrapers in lower Manhattan and their tragically unfortunate occupants.  They destroyed our comfortable assumptions.  They blew up a belief, held so deeply within us that almost no one ever even brought it into consciousness, let alone stated it clearly in words. That belief was:

"This is America. Things will never get too badly out of hand.  Except for crime and the occasional miscarriage of justice, we are all quite safe."

When the towers fell, that instantly changed.  A normally happy, wise-cracking gentleman in my department looked away with tears in his eyes.  "I don't want to see this happen to my grandkids," he choked out.  He was a Viet Nam veteran.  He didn't want his grandkids to live in the violent world he remembered from his service.  Most of the rest of us speculated about the events to come in whispers.  We moped around, quietly in shock, for hours or days.  Still, we soon got used to it.  Within a month, the news media, never the most caring or reflective people among us, went back to Bush-bashing and celebrity news.

In this case, I don't think any of us will be going back to normal anytime soon.  Recent events have broken not buildings and a few thousand lives, but the last weak remnants of the institutions that our founders left us.  We have passed, in the course of a couple months, from a world in which some grudging impulse toward fairness usually prevailed into a world in which raw power is being wielded without the slightest principle.  From a world in which legalities were worth the hope of pursuing into a world in which they are merely the formal decoration on the underlying blunt trauma of the ruling class's cudgel.  From a fragile but functional republic into a grotesque parody of one.

I am a small fish.  But the trawler that is now coming for us has a fine net and, if history teaches us anything, a big appetite.  Our lives are nothing to its operators.  Their grand vision does not include us.  There will always be enough maids to clean their houses and enough workers to assemble their Teslas.  The Chinese, who at least find us useful as a body of consumers, may actually care about us more than many of our own politicians.  If Chuck Schumer or Nancy Pelosi could thin the ranks of American conservatives by eighty million at the touch of a button, I suspect they'd break a finger in their enthusiasm.

While I'm obliged to say that the invasion of our government's hallowed hall by some misdirected persons from my side never should have happened, you would need good scientific instruments to detect the tears I've shed as a consequence.  The emotional suffering of career politicians and their hordes of arrogant staffers does not weigh heavily on my heart.  I have seen too many businesses destroyed, too many honest individuals ruined, and too many broken wretches finished off by Chinese fentanyl shipped across an open border to be overly sympathetic about the political class's sudden angst.  Let them tell it to their therapists, whom, by the way, you and I have probably paid for.  Let them reap what they have sown.  Let them check a little of their privilege this time around.

Unless you are willfully blind or constitutionally numb, there is a pretty good chance you are quietly, or not so quietly, afraid.  You have good cause.  If you love the country that you have rightfully inherited, you now have a target on your back.  Our institutions have completely failed us.  We alone, you and I and the insulted tens of millions, are now the only obstacle between our descendents and totalitarianism.

In the sobering and dangerous days to come, let us lose neither our principles nor our humanity.  If we must journey through the darkness, let us walk proudly as freeborn men and women and not as lawless animals or broken slaves.  Let us remember not only those who founded and built our republic, but Him who made us in His image.  And let us remember, always, that we are not alone.  Let us not think we are the few when we now know we are the many.  We have seen what we can do together.  An unlikely hero from the most improbable of places risked everything to lead the way.

Image: Nancyswikiaccount via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0 (cropped).