Today I'm remembering my maternal grandfather, Bernard Reynolds Lewis, a career officer who served in the United States Navy in two world wars. He was perhaps the calmest individual I have ever known. He had me driving the pickup on the country roads as soon as I could reach the pedals (and steering while sitting on his lap for years before that.) None of my wilder swerves ever phased him. I have always thought it ironic that he was felled by a heart attack, but that was likely more from southern diet and years of cigars than high-strung temperament.
My family happened to be visiting the small village in the Missouri Ozarks at the height of the Cuban missile crisis. That would have made me not quite 10 years old. I remember the adults were gathered around the radio, as there was no TV reception there in those pre-cable days. I was old enough to understand that we stood at the brink of the abyss. I'd been put thru those "duck, cover, and kiss your ass goodbye" drills in school. I'd been exposed to McCarthyite hysteria of neighbors warning us little kids of the impending takeover of America by Evil Godless Communists. In short, I was a pretty damn scared little kid. My grandfather saw this and came and sat with me.
With the fuzziness of the intervening decades, I'm unable to quote him verbatim anymore, but I still remember the main thrust of what he told me, and as closely as I can remember now, it went like this:
"America is so strong, I don't think you need to worry about it being conquered by a foreign country. If America is ever conquered, it will be us who'll do it. What do I mean? I mean, if you get to a day where the tycoons take control of the government. They've tried it before, and they'll keep on trying. They'll sell a lot of snake oil to a lot of foolish folks, who'll go along with them until one day they wake up and find it's too late. They'll talk a good line while they dismantle the Constitution, and they'll swear to high heaven it's for God and country. When you're grown up, that's what you should always watch out for."
The day "Grandpap" Lewis warned of has come to pass. I've been watching it come since the Reagan years, understanding where it would end (though not with whom until the 2016 primaries). The conquest from within is now complete. I will not waste many words over it.
To my fellow Americans who brought us to this pass, I say only this: I pity you. There is still such a thing in the universe as right and wrong, even if you're confused about it. You have, quite simply, chosen wrong. But you can't see it, and no power on earth will open your eyes. So no pointless argument, no sound-byte labels, no name calling. History will judge you. Our descendants will despise and curse your memory. go ahead and revel in your Pyrrhic victory - much good may it do you.
But know this: I for one will resist you. You and those who robbed and then cynically manipulated you because you had no more wit than to buy their snake oil. You and what you have imposed on me, on that which was once my country, and on the world. I will resist. Count on it.
P.S. If you hate this post, you might also hate this: Let The Record Show