Clint Eastwood has been in my life for as long as I can remember. Rowdy Yates in Rawhide driving cattle on the open range was foreign to me in Los Angeles but now here I am with cows myself. In his twenties Clint was even a choker setter (a logger who attached cables to logs) like I was.
His movies have always been meaningful, and stylized in order to convey that meaning. Both of those qualities have contributed to my being a big fan. But when, as mayor of Carmel, California, he legalized eating ice cream cones on the city’s sidewalks, my loyalty was certified. I’d like to see him ride into Hampton and liberate us from these ridiculous “beer gardens” at public events.
I began reading up on Eastwood when I noticed a bizarre public disconnection between the film American Sniper and what I perceived as the meaning of that movie. Movies are stylized in order to create an illusion of reality. So I excused Clint for putting Chris Kyle on rooftops shooting people he obviously couldn’t see over the edge and down below. These minor hiccups (artistic license) paled in comparison to his major failure of making, what he called, an anti-war movie.
Time and again the tragedy of a man abandoning his family and killing people who could not possibly pose a danger to him (unless he was invading their space to begin with), is ignored in favor of a religious-like adoration and fawning. I was talking to a well respected friend and mentioned American Sniper. He nearly went into a trance exclaiming how wonderful it was. His feelings were not on account of the impact American Sniper could make in saving lives in undeclared and unnecessary wars, because the conversation immediately turned to a different subject.
I see a disturbing trend. Not a new one, but one that seems to be accelerating as if it is an Amtrak train full of commuters late for work. I have no poll results to confirm it but from media traffic it seems Islamic radicals are widely believed to be, far and away, the biggest threat to the human race. The latest proof of this is the two buffoons who were trying to attack a cartoon contest in Texas. So really, two losers out of hundreds of millions of people are cause to abolish the Fourth Amendment?
A little perspective needs to be infused as we gather our thoughts. Murder is illegal already so we are past that for now. What are the other aspects of Islamic radicalism that pose this “existential threat?” There is no need to list them now because anyone who bothers to read this has a good idea of what they are. And every single one of them is already illegal.
Let’s go on and examine some examples of threats that are legal and a danger to our free society without so much as a whimper. One I read of in the Hampton Chronicle last week is that I will be forced to “facilitate” high speed internet for under-served areas of Iowa. It doesn’t seem like such a big deal does it? But it is when you consider all the other intrusions on our natural born rights. The mention of the words natural rights should be meaningful, but they have become mundane and anachronistic. The real problem is the distortion of the economy (that measures our relationships with others) makes us poorer by misallocating resources and thus producing waste. If there is a need for high speed internet, those who actually need it would find the most efficient way to access it.
What have those two (supposedly) ISIS combatants done to our country compared to Sarbanes-Oxley (810 pages), the Affordable Care Act (1,024 pages) and Dodd-Frank (2,300 pages)? None of which are necessary except that they counter other economy distorting laws already on the books. Dare I mention public education? If a parent wants to educate their children as they please (they are their children), they have to pay twice; once for their own kids and once for the collective future pool of workers. This impacts lower income families the most as they will find it too expensive to instill their own values in their kids. Those kids will likely go on to be obedient wards of the state rather than independent thinkers with the values of their parents; the kind of thinkers that birthed this once free nation. Obedient wards of the state will not seem so friendly when the state does not share our values.
I’m not pretending that people who would kill over a cartoon are not evil and can be safely ignored. That the expense of our maintenance of a world wide military presence dilutes our military capacity should be obvious when we spend almost as much as all other nations combined. Our freedom and prosperity is being taken by well intentioned bureaucrats at a rate that makes ISIS look like a tiny grain of sand in comparison. Follow the money when you hear of these threats or these “essential” programs. You will find the reason for the shrinking of the middle class.
Clint Eastwood over estimated his audience and underestimated the propaganda machine that is enabling special interests to suck the life out of our republic. American Sniper should have started a conversation on the role Chris Kyle and his cohorts played in the world, not ended it.