We have faced the enemy…and it is us

Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the ocean and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest, with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years. At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer. If it ever reach us it must spring up amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide.

Abraham Lincoln

There’s more than one way to topple an empire. More often than not, left to its own devices an empire inevitably decays from within. To believe America immune to this disease of the collective spirit seems naive in the extreme. We’ve spent untold trillions to protect the Homeland from external threats; our military’s power and reach are unparalleled. Yet even as we’ve worked to protect our borders from those who’d destroy us, we’ve done little to protect the Homeland against threats from within. The events of the past year or so have made this threat more immediate and apparent than ever…and yet we sit idle, doing nothing to protect America from itself.

We continue to ignore this clear and present danger at our own peril.

I in no way intend for this to be a call to restrict our freedoms; indeed, I believe the best solutions lie in the maintenance, even the expansion, of the rights most of us take for granted.

What few Americans seem willing to acknowledge these days is that rights don’t travel unaccompanied. They come with corresponding responsibilities. Rights and freedoms aren’t without cost…and I’m not talking just about those willing to lay down their lives to keep us safe. Each and every one of us has a responsibility to ensure the rights of ALL Americans are respected. More than that, though, we have a responsibility to ensure the public conversation is based on accurate, well-considered arguments.

We gain nothing when propaganda, screaming, and ignorance constitutes the coin of the realm, which is what seems to be happening these days. A democracy can not long remain strong and resilient when “alternative facts” and “fake news” are treated by millions as equivalent to the real thing. One doesn’t get to choose which “facts” one believes. There are facts on one side…and lies and propaganda on the other. There’s no such thing as “alternative facts,” merely a pathologically dishonest narrative intended to support despotism and demagoguery.

If we continue as we are, if we insist on dueling realities depending, one for each side of the ideological fence, we can stop worrying about external threats. We will decay and die from within, just another one-time empire cum idiocracy too ignorant and full of itself to recognize its own torpor and lassitude. Or, in the immortal words of one Forrest Gump,

“Stupid is as stupid does….”

Nice work, America.

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