An America of snitches and rats?

During Army Basic Training, decades ago, I was one of about a hundred recruits in our class.  One hot summer day, we were called outside, to stand in formation, so that the commanding officer could address us.  It was not a pleasant speech.  Someone had tampered with the commander's locked, glass-encased bulletin board.  This was not discovered until several days later, when a copy of one of the commander's letters, a letter that had been posted on the board, appeared in a national magazine.  The letter had been the subject of published ridicule.  It had warned recruits to stay away from a known house of ill repute.  Since the house was in a remote rural location that had no street address, the only way to identify it was to describe the location, which amounted to a detailed, "how to get there" set of instructions.  (This was long before the internet became available with map searches.)

All of us in the unit had laughed at the letter when it first appeared on the bulletin board but then promptly forgot about it.  Days later, the commander was informed of the magazine article.  Humiliated and enraged, he had assembled us on a very hot tarmac, the proverbial frying pan.  He knew that most of us knew the identity of the person (or persons) who had picked the lock, made a copy of the letter, and returned the original to the board.  How could we not know?  Bulletin boards are displayed in full public view.

The commander demanded that the person step forward or that those of us who could report him do so.

Silence.  The heat was stifling.  Sweat.  Discomfort.  Thirst.  Time passed slowly.  Silence.

To be honest, I did not know who the culprit was, but one thing I did know for a certainty: no one was going to rat.  No one was going to demand that anyone else rat.  Had I known who he was, I would not have told.  There could be no question that we all thought alike on this.  We had all resigned ourselves to a long ordeal, one that could have lasted hours on the "frying pan."  We held no one to blame.  

Let it be clear that had the culprit committed a crime, had he betrayed the trust his country placed in him, had he committed espionage or sabotage (you get the picture), we would all have turned him in, even without being told to do so.  This was different.

It finally became clear to the commander that no one was going to snitch, not even if we began suffering heat injury.  After a protracted ordeal, he dismissed us, and we all went back to our training routines.  

Fast-forward to 2020.  Is America becoming a nation of snitches and rats?  Are we calling the police on our neighbors if they have more than ten guests for a holiday celebration?  Are we going to set upon them for not wearing face masks in their front yards?   

Worse yet, are we going to assist one political party to hunt down and punish citizens who "voted the wrong way"?  Yes, the left has declared that it will do that.  

The mistake the commander made was to allow himself to be motivated not by high principle, but by personal animosity.  He had better options.  He should have thought them through before acting.  

Several Democrat governors are acting not on principle, but only for political advantage.  Power has gone to their heads.  Their authoritarian instincts are on full display for all to see, and only their unthinking, adoring followers fail to see the blatant hypocrisy.  

This time, it is not a simple matter of embarrassment; it is a threat to the social order.  Military men will obey the lawful orders of their commanders, but when they perceive that those orders violate accepted norms, they will resist.  Citizens likewise will endure much abuse from their elected office-holders, but there is a line that, when crossed, triggers open rebellion.  

The effect is exacerbated when those resisting the abuses are people who have no inclination to start trouble unless it first finds them.  These are people who are scrupulously honest, who respect authority and honor the flag.  When those people, the ones who willingly make sacrifices, who are willing to lay down their lives for God and country — when they are the ones refusing to snitch, and refusing to obey imperious edicts — then that is a sign of an undercurrent of frustration that may erupt at any time into an uprising that cannot be crushed.

The commander got the message and wisely decided to drop the matter.  Will our elected officials be as astute?

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