Things are not going well in our country, and indeed, these are the times that try our souls. The COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc with our economy, our employment levels, and our sense of security, and of course, our health. And as of this writing, 111,909 dead, and more uncounted, and more coming. We labor, rather cheerfully, under the constraints of social distancing, but it seems a lot of people are losing patience, and some are willfully asserting that it is just fine to stop taking precautions, even as infection rates are going up in those places most eager to ‘reopen.’
Adding to the distress, it appears that our national Administration is tilting toward a new authoritarianism. Not even Nixon, who was no big fan of democracy, dared to tear-gas a crowd of peaceful protestors–whose right to protest is enshrined in our Bill of Rights–in order to stage a little show and tell, in front of ‘The Church of the Presidents,’ holding (upside-down) a Bible that everybody knows he doesn’t care anything about. This action was so egregious that General Mattis, the President’s former Secretary of Defense–who has kept silent since his firing–to sound the alarm: the President is behaving like a dictator. There is also the ominous appearance in the ranks of the Police and National Guard of mysterious men, in uniform but without identification or insignia, and who won’t say anything about who they are, or by what right they are present. Are they volunteer paramilitaries? Posse comitatus, secretly summoned by . . . whom? Sheriff POTUS?
All this while a great majority of the nation is trying to mourn another murder-by-the-police, in this case, poor George Floyd.
We are an optimistic people, like most people, and so we can point to a few silver linings. There are stirrings of unrest among our more conservative fellow citizens, and even some of their representatives. And while the mourners are all races, the protesters are majority young white people, largely millennial women and men. I conclude there’s nothing much wrong with their generation. They are defending their values, and their vision of a better world. We need that, real bad. And we need them to vote too, for a more humane and generous future.