” A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.” Kay – Men in Black
The fears of my youth, unlike many of my contemporaries, were not handed down from the paranoid 1950’s cold war vision of Russia’s Sputnik circling overhead. I feared what I watched on TV Saturday mornings in the same way president Lyndon Johnson feared the communists would drop bombs on America “like kids dropping rocks onto cars from freeway overpasses.” In 1960, when Eisenhower handed over the reins of power to JFK, I was twelve years old; the height of Hollywood’s B Movie westerns. Back then I only feared two things besides my father; quicksand and lynch mobs.
After a fevered trip to my local library I quickly learned that drowning in quicksand, as long as you didn’t panic and struggle, was nearly impossible. Having done so I jettisoned my unwarranted fear of it. But ever since those westerns put the fear of vigilante lynch mobs in my impressionable head, unless I joined them outdoors at a Hippie rock concert, I have avoided crowds.
America faces, now and in the coming months, a new Ox Bow Incident moment. For those who have missed this passion play on Turner Classic Movies, that film was an authoritative indictment of angry mob rule and violence that lead to a brutal lynching of three suspicious outsiders – all innocent of the “trumped-up” charges. When seen by American audiences in the early 1940s during the progress of World War II, the implication was obvious; Hitler’s evils in Europe could also inhabit the ethos of the sacred American/western frontier.
This stark anti-Western’s valid observation is also stuck in the chewy center of the recent fascination closest to the dark, fear-filled hearts of right-wing, white-wing FOX News acolytes; those fanatics screaming Build The Wall at Trump’s Nuremberg style rally; better known as the Republican National Convention; ethnic-nationalism. The idea that by looks alone we can describe and define as criminals the Other.
Yet tomorrow begins the counter-argument the Democrats will make, sanity will return and we can all breathe a sigh of relief. John Wayne in the disguise of Hillary Clinton, white pants suit a substitute for the John Wayne leather chaps, will ride to our rescue and protect the innocent, threatened by the angry vigilante lynch mob we’ve been forced to endure nigh these last few months. There’s a new sheriff in town and she don’t allow no lynching. America for the better is a country of laws not men and certainly not strong men. We tried this once before in our recent past when eight years of Richard Nixon spawned America’s bloodiest modern war and on the domestic scene incarceration rates soared; from 300,000 then to 2.3 million today.
I’ve been predicting, and waiting now some 50 years, for the new generation to replace the old; for the party of old white men to die off and a new global awareness take hold. Now I wonder if I’ll live to see it. The Bernie Sanders revolution has given me some hope but alas we’ve been here before and though his is as big a movement as I’ve yet seen, inexplicably, to those that know me; I back Hillary.
Maybe, just maybe, I’m the problem I seek to solve. It’s the contagious attraction to our American brand of social capitalism that co-opts the ambitious and the aged. Once we have stock in the apple cart, we no longer wish to see it overturned.