The Septuagenarian Speaks – publsihed November 20, 2019, Siskiyou Daily News
With the current impeachment circus, it seems to me that the “news” we get from the media has become white noise. Something you just tune out. In our household, the clock-radio pops on at 5:00 AM every morning to NPR, and the first thing we hear is, “In today’s impeachment proceedings…” Toward the end of the day our TV is tuned to Fox News (we are equal-opportunity listeners) and what do we hear? “In today’s impeachment proceedings…” I’m to the point where I tune it out. I consider myself to be a fairly normal average American, so I can’t help wonder if maybe others tune it out also. Isn’t there something else to report about? Doesn’t Congress have other jobs to do? How about the fact that the national debt today is $23 trillion? Or, what about climate change? There is even an eerie silence about that. Greta Thunborg is surely asking, “How dare they?”
Well, maybe I’m exaggerating. Now and then a few kernels of other news slip through the white noise chaff. In the last few weeks a couple of them caught my attention. Both of them are frightening. One came from not-so-lovable loser Beto O’Rourke. He said, “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.” According to NPR, his comment generated huge cheers. The other came from an instructor at the University of California, Berkeley, named Jackson Kernion. Mr. Kernion tweeted, “It should be uncomfortable to live in rural America. It should be uncomfortable to not move … I unironically embrace the bashing of rural Americans. They, as a group, are bad people who have made bad life decisions. Some, I assume are good people. But this nostalgia for some imagined pastoral way of life is stupid and we should shame people who aren’t pro-city.” He began the thread by advocating against affordable healthcare solutions in rural America, saying that “Rural healthcare should be expensive! And that expense should be borne by those who choose rural America!” He argued that promoting a need for affordable rural healthcare is equivalent to arguing for rural Americans ‘to be subsidized by those who choose a more efficient way of life.’”
Wow! You can argue that these two sound-bites didn’t get much traction. Not-so-lovable Beto subsequently withdrew from the presidential race. And Jackson Kernion deleted his tweet, saying, “Pretty sure I did a bad tweet here. Gonna delete it … I’ll want to reflect on it more later, but my tone is way crasser and meaner than I think I am.”
Well, you can try to “unsend” messages like that, but once they are out there, they don’t just go away. What makes them frightening is that they reflect the sentiment of certain segments of the population, who knows how large? Beto’s comment is noteworthy because for years the NRA has opposed every proposed piece of legislation regarding gun ownership, no matter how reasonable, as merely a small step of a larger conspiracy to confiscate all guns. Many people, including myself, scoffed at that, but now I’m not so sure. It’s somewhat comforting to note that most of the other Democratic presidential candidates distanced themselves from Beto’s idea. It would be interesting to know how many law-abiding citizens are out there, including members of Congress and the current crop of Democratic candidates, who are owners of AR-15’s and aren’t telling.
As to Jackson Kernion’s assertion that rural Americans are “bad people,” I hope that not many Americans, city-folks or otherwise, share that opinion. But there is substantial evidence that many urban dwellers, particularly those in government, think that we rural Americans are stupid and unenlightened, and that we need those with their superior intellect to protect us by passing laws to change our “bad” way of life.