We sit by and watch the barbarian. We tolerate him in the long stretches of peace, we are not afraid. We are tickled by his irreverence; his comic inversion of our old certitudes and our fixed creed refreshes us; we laugh. But as we laugh we are watched by large and awful faces from beyond, and on these faces there are no smiles. – Hilaire Belloc
A tryptic of cynical indifference has further reminded me that nobody in the USG gives a flying canary whether the people do well, prosper or even survive. Much of the US border remains more wide open than Debbie when she done did Dallas. An independent inspection determined that 95% of a sample of fake bombs or weapons got past the TSA at various airports nationwide. The OPM was successfully hacked and every USG Federal Employee has had their PII* potentially stolen by foreign agents. And does any post-modern American even figuratively commit seppuku for this?
The attitude of complete indifference to their mandate that our governing officials put on brazen display is far more distressing than any of the three failures I alluded to above. There is an arrogance and a sense of entitlement that has made the thoughtful among us saddened and a bit sick for lo the years. Peggy Noonan summoned this internalized grief we felt towards what our land was becoming in an evocative, brilliant column entitled “A Separate Peace.” The following sums up everything that I feel as a rage against the deliberate, uncaring, and unconcerned incompetence of these people who claim to be our betters.
I suspect that history, including great historical novelists of the future, will look back and see that many of our elites simply decided to enjoy their lives while they waited for the next chapter of trouble. And that they consciously, or unconsciously, took grim comfort in this thought: I got mine. Which is what the separate peace comes down to, “I got mine, you get yours.” You’re a lobbyist or a senator or a cabinet chief, you’re an editor at a paper or a green-room schmoozer, you’re a doctor or lawyer or Indian chief, and you’re making your life a little fortress. That’s what I think a lot of the elites are up to.
That’s also why I warned people not to laugh at the potential for someone like Donald Trump to build a movement in favor of trashing it all. I look at the mendacity of Barack Obama, the callous mercenaries of the GOP Senate that sell out our immigration policies to the likes of Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Ellison. I look at the parasitism of strap-hangers like Elon Musk. I look at the bumbling idiocy of the OPM. As much as I like to consider myself a restrained, boring, button-downed bureaucratic sort, I feel it. It is something more intimate, more immediate, more potentially soul-consuming than just wistful grief for a dead and buried better America.
I feel WHITE.HOT.RAGE. I feel hopeless impotence as I watch it unfold before us. I feel like a Union Army medic at Cold Harbor as I try to take it all in and drink the nauseating cocktail of utter, unmitigated, bilious fail that is post-modern America. I can only take refuge in the fact that The Western Roman Empire stayed afloat for nearly 260 years after the lamentable reign of Elagabalus.
And we can always distract ourselves. It sure is fun to mock the people who aren’t in the club. I mean I first noticed Donald Trump’s hairdo a few years ago and yelled “Hey, look. Squirrel!” We chase the Kardashians and other distractions for the same reason that freezing Soviet factory workers in Nikel drank their shots of vodka until their livers finally failed.
But outside our comfortable circle and our seemingly secure confines we are watched by the large and awful faces. On those faces, there are no smiles. And maybe if enough people are feeling just as disenfranchised, as disconnected, as mocked, as hated, as “otherized” by the polluting Zeitgeist as I do on some days; those large, awful and unsmiling faces can be found as close by as the bathroom mirror. At that point, maybe America we all grew up being taught to love really is nothing but a distant memory.
*-PII – Personally Identifying Information (DOB, SSN, etc…)