Readers, old enough to remember the decade of the 40’s, may concur with our recollection, that the prevailing atmosphere of the Nation (or at least, what we saw of it from Brooklyn, New York) was distinguishably different from that of today; good events and not-so-good ones were far simpler and at least, easier to understand. Families living together in the neighborhood knew and cared for each other. Meeting a neighbor, in the street, guaranteed a friendly salutation, if not an extensive conversation on family, friends, employment, or the price of coffee. The neighborhood policeman was an amiable and positive assurance of extant normality and community security. Movies stereotypically portrayed the neighborhood cop, often Irish, as a familiar and reassuring, blue uniformed, fixture in the resident neighborhood, who in the obvious pretense of gruffness, shoo ’ed youngsters to school, lest they be marked, “late.” He was known for pleasantly responding to requested directions, for heroic acts of saving lives, delivering babies in extreme emergencies, and protecting the law-abiding citizen.
The significant extent of the intractable, change in society since the 40’s, may notably be exemplified by a sea-change in the traditional image of the policeman. Today’s cop is no longer the familiar, friendly neighborhood guardian, but an impersonal monitor of citizens’ presumed inclination (especially, people of color, or divergent nationality) to commit acts of criminality. The media has sadly and shockingly disseminated the many horrendous acts of prejudicial homicide, against people of color, at routine police stops by prejudiced members of the police. Such shocking events are an inarguable demonstration of a new and unsavory breed of Municipal police. Long gone and forgotten is the wholesome image and behavior of the cheery, paternal Irish policeman; today, the honest citizen (especially, the citizen of color) fears the police, every bit as much as he fears the felonious criminal. The constabulary sadly and ominously has evolved in atavistic fashion, backward from responsibly caring guardian to armed and occupying military overseer.
Such perverse morphing of the community police, tragically, seems to be directly parallel and in sync with an observable sea-change in societal interactive relationships in American society. Citizens were envisioned, by the philosophical and optimistic Founding Fathers as responsibly and socially, debating their divergent political opinions; the results thereof, useful, in the decision-making by a Nation, “by and for the people.” The unforeseen result, however, was the development of a rancorous and antagonistic divisiveness into hostile, insular tribal camps of common opinion (“groupthink”). This unfortunate divisiveness, significantly catalyzed by the four-year term of the bigoted and ignorant, Donald Trump not only seems to endure but for some has fully metastasized to the stage of unhealthy and ominous paranoid conspiracy theories. It was this pathological development that led to the unprecedented violent, anti- democratic January 6 insurrection. If those participating, self-styled “patriots” know nothing about the definition of “socialism,” they know astoundingly less about the definition of the word “patriot;” which, by the way, is not contextually related to the word, “paranoid”.
The temper of the times has empirically changed, in the order of countless sociological eons since our selected comparative decade of the 1940s, when all America in fraternal fashion, pulled together in the common existential need to win the Second World War. We have written, previously, of our dutiful childhood after-school activity patriotically, collecting rubber and metal from the community for the war effort, in lieu of playing ball. In the Nation, at such time, everyone was conjoined in a common patriotism and fear of the Axis powers.
The current American atmosphere, uncomfortably, reeks with existential danger to the continued existence of our Democracy. This time, it is not the annihilative threat of Hitler and the Axis, as it was in the 1940s. The present arch- enemies of our Democracy are exemplified by the horde of discontented and reductively ignorant members of America’s underbelly, incredibly, spurred on by a former American President himself, its celebrity inspiration and managing functionary. Donald Trump and his many sycophantic followers’ delusional conspiracies and their foundational denigration of truth, human enlightenment, and universal equality must be soundly and unconditionally repulsed, as was the enemy Axis of the 40’s. It may empirically be said, “ We have met the new enemy and it is us”.
In this precarious era, it is not possible to render assistance by simple acts such as collecting empty tin cans and old rubber, as done in the 40’s, in support of our Nation’s military effort. Confronting the contemporary challenge of domestic terrorism does not require materiel, but rather, the pro-active engagement of enlightened American citizens in the prevention of police and civilian acts of un-American bigotry, and by publicly articulating and demonstrating our ardent support for the current definitional aspirations of our Constitution and the State and Federal Statutes, designed to be morally protective of universal American equality.