Are you old enough to remember all those old guys telling their stories of how they had to fight in World War I? Can you remember veterans of the Civil War in Memorial Day parades? Well surely you remember the quiet confidence of the heroes of World War II, right? Well guess what? To a whole lot of people who vote, raise money for SuperPACS and even get elected to office, the guys who lived during Vietnam look as old and outdated as the veterans some of us recall from our youth.
On one level, that’s okay. Time passes and memories fade. But for those of us old enough to remember the fabric of our nation being ripped apart, the changes to the culture which preceded that era arriving like a tornado and the bitterness which was fomented during those days, the kind of social upheaval we are experiencing now in America has re-awakened some of the most disquieting memories a long period of prosperity helped us to forget.
Back in the sixties and seventies people were forced by television to hear other people demand that they be left alone, that they be able to live their lives as they saw fit and for the repressive government to get off their backs. To many of us in this part of the country those demands seemed very unnecessary.
We lived in Kentucky. We had farms, rode horses, hiked, climbed around in Red River Gorge, picnicked, swung from ropes and dropped into Cumberland lake, might have had beards, maybe went barefoot and didn’t think for one minute that anybody was trying to keep us from doing any of those things. That was until the rabble rousers in Chicago and in San Francisco and other places started yelling on camera that the “pigs” and the “tin soldiers” were coming to clamp down on us. I never believed it, and the “they” they warned us about never came. The only time anybody clamped down was when some group of rabble rousers tried to disrupt things for everybody else.
These days I hear lots of people claiming that the government (aka Barack Obama) is plotting to create a dictatorship for himself, take away our constitutional rights, our guns, our freedoms, our property and that we must be ready in an instant (prepared or “prepped”) for the coming zombie invasion. I guess a little age has given me a slightly different perspective.
I have no idea whether today’s rabble rousers were even alive back in the sixties, or for that matter if they were, what they looked like or where their “head was at.” I do know that a bunch of today’s chicken little’s are far too young to remember much of the history I have lived so I’m sure there is a new crop of radical thinkers out there. But where they get their ideas is anybody’s guess.
One thing I do know though is that all this talk about “revolution” or the new theme “evolution” has a tendency to incite some people to very radical thought. Now thinking outside the box is just fine, but when people actually begin to discuss the forceful overthrow of the government, planning for civil war in the streets and start building coalitions of people around them by feeding their fears that we are about to become Nazi Germany, or Venezuela, or Cuba or the Soviet Union or that our economic policy is designed to let Communist China come here and foreclose on America after we default on our debt to them, might be a bit over the top.
I do think we need to be vigilant. Freedom is never free. We must constantly be aware that there are those who find our successes to stand in the way of their successes. And we cannot put our head in the sand and deny that some people really do want to hurt us. Situational awareness is one thing, paranoia is a mental illness.
I’ve never liked being pigeon holed because of my party affiliation. You would do very poorly trying to define my belief system by some generalized notion of what it means to be registered to vote as I am. And that is what pains me these days when I hear others with an agenda of their own whipping up trouble.
You see, I’ve seen this crowd before. They get lots of attention. They might even be on the news every single night. But in the end, after they’ve made their millions, they end up in Bermuda shorts, standing over a grill in some suburban back yard burning burgers while the kids play and the talk turns to lawn care and people measure what they have against what others have all in order to go home feeling good about themselves.
But in the meantime, while the drama plays out, the nation is torn apart.
That’s why I like Kentucky. We get it. United we stand, divided we fall. Very plain, very simple.
Now, can I get anybody a burger?
Marcus Carey is a Northern Kentucky lawyer with 32 years experience. He is also a farmer, talk radio host and public speaker who loves history and politics. He is a prolific and accomplished writer whose blog, BluegrassBulletin.com, is “dedicated to honest and respectful comment on the political and cultural issues of our time.” He writes a regular commentary for KyForward.