Sometimes, well a lot of the time in fact, I think I see a reality that very few around me, particularly here in bucolic Newport, not only do not see in the same light as I do, but find it very odd that I am so focused on things that seem to them , not only totally unreal, but practically unimaginable. Truisms are truisms because they tend to be more true than not. I suppose that if one can get through life without being confronted by the stark reality that is the truth of our world and of the true, ugly nature of the government we have become slaves to, ignorance can provide a blanket of personal comfort, even though it be woven out of the cloth of self-delusion and willful blindness. The truth does not necessarily set you free, it can weigh on you like poor Jacob Marley’s rattling chains or the cement Florsheims that Luca Brasi likely wore to the bottom of the East River.
The truth about America can shatter, should shatter, the myths and supporting memes of this nation’s greatness and purity of purpose and heart, not only those pertaining to America’s intents on the international stage but within our own national borders, the Homeland, a term I find immensely offensive. Most of the critical, mind searing events of our history, certainly those of the past century or so, are entwined in false narratives, fogs of lies and distortions of the truth that even the most brilliant intellects succumb to their siren songs.
In many cases the truth is so heinously offensive and unimaginable that even the flimsiest of lies covers it over, a process enhanced by the collective will of the American people to wrap layers of belief and consensual affirmation about the lie in order to live cocooned within the comforting American mythologies. Even lies and false narratives that are clearly not supported by facts are held aloft so high that those who do not bow before them are pilloried, ostracized and browbeaten into a rationalized submission to falsity.
The list of American atrocities and astounding lies is far too long to review, but if you do the research, really do the research on subjects relatively small, such as our early 20th century love affair with policies of forced eugenics that Hitler so admired, to those that affected untold millions of lives, such as the set-up attack on Pearl Harbor in order for FDR to declare war and all of those little “conspiracy theories” since, from JFK’s and Martin Luther King’s assassinations, the destruction of the World Trade Towers to the present pretexts for war against Russia and flight MH17 you cannot help but feel the way I do. I see dead people, they are alive yet dead, quantum juxtapositions in a world of lies.
When we are hit in the face by reality, which is coming soon, very soon the truth will rip many of us apart.
Think of it as a different kind of blowback. Even when you fight wars in countries thousands of miles distant, they still have an eerie way of making the long trip home.
Take the latest news from Bergen County, New Jersey, one of the richest counties in the country. Its sheriff’s department is getting two mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles, or MRAPs — 15 tons of protective equipment — for a song from the Pentagon. And there’s nothing special in that. The Pentagon has handed out 600 of them for nothing since 2013, with plenty more to come. They’re surplus equipment, mostly from our recent wars, and perhaps they will indeed prove handy for a sheriff fretting about insurgent IEDs (roadside bombs) in New Jersey or elsewhere in the country. When it comes to the up-armoring and militarization of America’s police forces, this is completely run-of-the-mill stuff.
The only thing newsworthy in the Bergen story is that someone complained. To be exact, Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan spoke up in opposition to the transfer of the equipment. “I think,” she said, “we have lost our way if you start talking about military vehicles on the streets of Bergen County.” And she bluntly criticized the decision to accept the MRAPs as the “absolute wrong thing to do in Bergen County to try to militarize our county.” Her chief of staff offered a similar comment: “They are combat vehicles. Why do we need a combat vehicle on the streets of Bergen County?”
Sheriff Michael Saudino, on the other hand, insists that the MRAPs aren’t “combat vehicles” at all. Forget the fact that they were developed for and used in combat situations. He suggests instead that one good reason for having them — other than the fact that they are free (except for postage, gas, and upkeep) — is essentially to keep up with the Joneses. As he pointed out, the Bergen County police already have two MRAPs, and his department has none and, hey, self-respect matters! (“Should our SWAT guys be any less protected than the county guys?” he asked in a debate with Donovan.)