We have a neighbor several doors down the street who has – over the years that we have known her – been somewhat of a trial. Not only is she is a gossip with an appallingly low degree of accuracy in the stories that she passes on, she is also a keen consumer of local news, and takes the most sensational crime stories to heart. She was in her element, the evening that we had a double murder in our neighborhood, having claimed to see the murderer running down the street past her house and begging one of the other neighbors for a ride. She provided a description of the murderer to one of the police patrols who went screaming through the neighborhood – a description which turned out to be inaccurate in every detail save that the escaping murderer was a male. As for the what she sees on the news; let someone across town be carjacked in their own driveway, she is totally convinced that everyone in the neighborhood is in dire peril of this happening to them. She lurks at the community mailbox of a morning, bearing dire warnings of all kinds of unlikely scenarios. She never goes much beyond the community mailbox, having successfully frightened herself out of going any farther on most occasions. In earlier times, I would try and talk her into taking a more realistic view of things. Eventually I realized that she purely enjoyed scaring herself into conniptions, and those irrational fears provided a handy all-purpose excuse for her not to go and do much of anything with herself when her only child went to college on the other side of the state and her husband moved out.
Until a few weeks ago, I considered this neighbor an oddity; now I realize that is just not so. A great many other people, mundane, or celebrity, educated or not, rich or not so rich are having a fine old time scaring themselves into even more spectacular frenzies over the brutal Hitlerian tendencies of Donald Trump, at the drop of a hat, another executive order, or cabinet nomination. If anything, the hysteria is getting shriller and more unhinged, and aimed more widely than just Trump, his associates, family, staff and cabinet nominees. It’s being aimed at citizens who voted for him; the worst of it is viciously unhinged, and the not-so-bad comes through in social media, and from friends and acquaintances whom one really doesn’t want to cut off entirely. Quite a few of my Facebook acquaintances who confess to being on the libertarian to conservative side of the political divide tell tales of being unfriended, hectored mercilessly; the convention of agreeing to disagree isn’t something to be upheld any longer.
There’s almost a feeding-frenzy quality about it. I live in a pretty conservative milieu – but I wouldn’t want to wear a Trump-supporting t-shirt or a MAGA ballcap in public, not after seeing pictures of Trump supporters being egged, rocked, cold-cocked or beaten up over the last few months. Which brings me to the riot Wednesday evening, where the flying monkey-squads of masked, black-clad so-called ‘Anti-Fa’ or anti-fascist protesters descended and … really, gave a most striking demonstration of how the historical fascists behaved: beating up their enemies and trashing places of business, while intimidated police stand by doing nothing, and craven local politicians make lame excuses for the mayhem. I would not be surprised in the least when one of the black-clad anti-fa goons is killed by a victim who is not quite ready to roll with the narrative. Neither will I be surprised when the name of the dead anti-fa goon is memorialized in a snappy marching song, set to jazzed-up version of the Horst-Wessel-Lied. Anyone willing to give me the inside-outside for either probability? Discuss.