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When grace and humility give way to hubris and spite
(Source: Getty Images)
Bill Bonner, reckoning today from Normandy, France...
“Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all the unifying agents. Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a god, but never without a belief in a devil.” ~ Eric Hoffer
On Saturday, we left Paris for the countryside. The City of Light has grown a little dark. We imagined it must have felt a little like it did during the German Occupation in the early 1940s. People gathered at café tables… wondered what the government would do next… and exchanged forged documents.
“Are they checking papers? I heard they arrested people on the Avenue Maine. Where can I get a fake pass? “
You have to show ‘your papers’ wherever you go.
People over 65 are required to have the vaccine… and a booster… or they aren’t allowed to sit down in bars or restaurants.
Why? Jupiter (France’s president, Emmanuel Macron) says the country is ‘at war.’ People have to make sacrifices. And, as in any war, most people go along with their leaders, wave the flag … and hate the enemy.
Last week, we began by exploring how the press had abandoned its post. No longer asking tough questions on behalf of the public, it became a shill, giving out ‘correct’ views on behalf of the elite.
Then, we saw how it takes two to tango – two points of view, pro and con. Without the yang, the yin spins out of control. Without fierce opposition, the ruling elite becomes corrupt, incompetent and dysfunctional.
And with no honest press to watch over the proceedings, the court fills up with kangaroos. Defense attorneys are banned from the courtroom. The innocent are condemned. Jaywalkers get the death penalty.
In France, as in the US, the press not only cheers on the government… it signals that anyone who disagrees is deplorable… a subject for ridicule, even in death.
In The LA Times, for example, an opinion piece by Michael Hiltzik appeared last week: “Mocking anti-vaxxers’ deaths is ghoulish, yes… but necessary.”
Necessary? Really? Should Lincoln have shown up at Gettysburg… looking out over the rows and rows of shallow graves… thousands of them. Of the Confederate soldiers who had gone to war against him, should he have said:
‘Hey, you forgot to duck. Ha ha.”
Or perhaps he should have taken a blasé, callous tone, a la Hillary Clinton: “We came. We saw. They died.”
On the one hand, a hallmark of civilized thought is the sense that every life is precious.
On the other, those who have deliberately flouted sober medical advice by refusing a vaccine known to reduce the risk of serious disease from the virus, including the risk to others, and end up in the hospital or the grave can be viewed as receiving their just deserts.
When you have The Truth… why mince words? Why not call a spade a spade… and whack your enemies over the head with it?
The trouble, as we also saw last week, is that The Truth is slippery and fleeting. It is rented, not owned. And it comes to light in opposition, not submission.
In a civilized society, people make their own choices. Some turn out well. Some not-so-well. They follow their hearts, their minds, or their leaders. They are in thrall to some god… some guru… some Great Idea. Who are we to know whom to ridicule?
Lincoln chose to speak “with malice towards none, with charity for all.”
In his day, dead soldiers deserved respect, no matter which flag they followed. But today, every Trump voter south of the Potomac is regarded as an unreconstructed racist. And every person who doubts the virtue of mandatory vaccines is treated like an active shooter.
Yes, today’s world improvers speak in the shrill, unchallenged tones of sanctimonious prigs everywhere. On their High Ground, they breathe the pure air of True Believers, unpolluted by doubt or ambiguity. But it has no grace or charity it in. And over every fallen enemy they smirk; it is a “teachable moment,” they say.
Of course, ‘anti-vaxxers’ are not the only ones to die. With the majority of the population now vaxxed, the majority of the corpses are also vaxxed. They don’t die “with COVID.” They die “with VACCINE.”
How many of them drove too fast… used drugs or alcohol… or who failed to get married or eat their vegetables? They fill up the hospitals and die early. Shouldn’t they be mocked too?
And what sympathy note, along with the dead flowers, will Mr. Hiltzik put on the large coffins of those who ate too much? Countries with high levels of obesity have 10 times as many COVID deaths. What did they die of? And what to say to them?
“You got what you deserved, Fatso!”
Among the Shades
Just up the road, at Colleville-sur-mer, there are rows and rows of white crosses – nearly 10,000 – marking the graves of American soldiers who died in the Normandy Invasion. They came from the farms and factory towns of the US. In the tumult of WWII, each of them might have ducked and dodged… and maybe avoided putting on a uniform.
And some of them, huddled in their landing boats, must have wondered. Had they made the wrong choice?
Herr Hitler stood on the high ground too. He was sure he was right and had no sympathy for those who opposed him. Mockery was too good for them, he believed. And now, the farmboys and city slickers from the US were going to take him down a peg.
Signing up for the military was perhaps not their smartest move… not necessarily the thing that would help them become columnists for The LA Times and live long lives of self-satisfied indulgence.
But maybe they thought that there was something more at stake… something more than their own lives… something more important to them than life itself. And that, if they were killed, at least it was for a reason that made sense to them.
And so, they made their choices, right or wrong. And they died young.
Should we spit on their graves too? Or honor them, as fellow human beings… caught up as we all are, in an incomprehensible web of lies and fantasies… and blessed, only occasionally, with spellbinding glimpses of truth and beauty?
No… we do not laugh at the shades. Because we will all soon be among them. And they may laugh at us.