In order for something to become the so-called norm, the thing is introduced to us incrementally.
Take the man in the Oval Office right now. He came down those escalators with a bang and told us right away who he was as a person, who he would be as a candidate, and who he would be as a president. At first we were shocked by what he said, there were condemnations from both sides of the aisle, and the media were both aghast and titillated by what they were going to be covering.
As we look back, what he did that day was relatively mundane. He, along with the complicit Republican Party and the Media, have incrementally helped us not be shocked anymore by what he says or does. It is the “new-norm” for a president. Just take a moment to think about how even when the man in the Oval Office tells people maybe shooting yourself up with disinfectant would help prevent/cure COVID-19 and people just shrug it off for the most part thinking, “There he goes again,” along with people actually believing it. That is the result of incremental acceptance over time.
Where am I going with this you might be asking?
Personally, I have been shocked, dismayed, concerned, and yes, a bit frightened, by some of the protests happening right now against stay-at-home orders, which have followed other protests in the past six months in Kentucky and Virginia. Specifically, it is masked men and women, essentially all white, toting machine guns outside and inside Statehouses.
If memory serves me right, the first incremental step protest was in Charlotte. Nazis and fascist descended upon the city spewing hate and in some cases carrying weapons. There were clashes, and in the end, people were hurt and one killed while these protests lasted. The man in the Oval Office said there were good people on both sides, thus sending the message to these groups it was okay to protest and, covertly, when violence happens, he wasn’t going to condemn the violence.
Move forward in time to a protest in Virginia. This time the protest involves masked armed protest in front of the Virginia Statehouse. The protest was over gun control legislation being debated at the time. The police didn’t arrest anyone for concealing themselves while holding a deadly weapon in front of a government office.
Next was the protest in Kentucky, again over 2nd Amendment rights, or rather perceived rights as the 2nd Amendment doesn’t guarantee the right to bear arms just because, but no one actually pays attention to the words or the intent of the 2nd Amendment, just what gun rights advocates have pushed as their interpretation of this Amendment. These masked gunmen, again essentially all white, entered the Statehouse, bypassing the security scans, and paraded through the Statehouse hallways. Again, no arrests for them being masked while carrying a deadly weapon; and no arrests for bringing the guns into the Statehouse because apparently it isn’t against the law there.
Now we have Michigan, where the protests have stepped up a notch. There masked protestors, heavily armed, and yes, the pattern continues of being essentially all white, protested in front of the Governor’s mansion, and also in front of, and inside, the Statehouse. No arrests for being masked while carrying a deadly weapon, no arrests for carrying a machine gun in a government building, and no arrests for intimidation with a deadly weapon.
I have nothing against protests as I’ve partaken in a number of them myself now. However, neither I, nor my other fellow protestors, felt we needed to be masked carrying an assault-style machine gun with us to get our point across. Protest to ones hearts content, but once someone brings a machine gun and has a mask covering their face, it is no longer a protest, it is armed intimidation, and I might go so far as to say it could be construed as a threat of bodily harm or murder, in which arrests should be taking place.
If I were a policeman, I would be scared in having to monitor these armed intimidation’s since the masked armed people are probably more heavily armed than I might be. Arrests need to be made.
The longer masked heavily armed gunmen are allowed to intimidate by inferred deadly resistance, the more emboldened these groups will become. How long before these groups are showing up at other Statehouses, Governor’s Mansions and other elected official’s residences looking to intimidate them to voting a certain way? How long before there is a coordinated plan to show up at all Statehouses masked and heavily armed at the same time? How long before someone, or someones, decide it’s time to overthrow a state through a coup d’état because they are upset things aren’t going their way? And I predict not if, but when it does, what next?
Action is needed now before we incrementally don’t bat an eye over heavily armed masked “protestors” in our centers of Government. When it does, it never ends well. Just take a look at history in general, and what currently happens often in other countries around the world. Just because we are the United States with a Constitution and elected officials doesn’t mean it won’t happen here. Our laws, norms, and mores are only as good as the people sworn to, or elected to, uphold those laws, norms, and mores.
Right now, sadly, and frighteningly, we aren’t doing so well in the latter area.