Henry Rollins: America Is In for a Long, Hot, Violent Summer
In one of the more humorous strokes of the WWW, a faux petition was posted, urgently pushing for permission to carry weapons into the RNC love fest in Cleveland in July. The writing was so funny, it sounded like a moment out of Colbert’s Comedy Central show. The best comedy always gets to the truth.
The petition, as ridiculous as it is, reads like so much dead serious stuff from the foaming and disenfranchised. Here are two standout paragraphs:
“Cleveland, Ohio, is consistently ranked as one of the top 10 most dangerous cities in America. By forcing attendees to leave their firearms at home, the RNC and Quicken Loans Arena are putting tens of thousands of people at risk both inside and outside of the convention site.
“This doesn’t even begin to factor in the possibility of an ISIS terrorist attack on the arena during the convention. Without the right to protect themselves, those at the Quicken Loans Arena will be sitting ducks, utterly helpless against evildoers, criminals or others who wish to threaten the American way of life.”
I love that! I haven’t thought of the term “evildoers” since President Bush used it. Sadly, there are a lot of people in the USA who feel this way.
Too bad these hoaxsters chose to beat up on Cleveland! I have done a lot of shows there. Like a lot of American cities, it’s tough in parts. The people I have met there are great. Clevelanders are among the best audiences anywhere.
As funny as this petition was, it does say a lot about where some Americans are in 2016. The GOP is the party of guns and the NRA; under the influence of Trump, it’s not your parents’ GOP. No matter what happens in November, the establishment wing of the Republican Party will have to do some restructuring. After Trump, it will never be the same.
We are an incredibly diverse nation, proudly and often belligerently free. Many of us, men and women alike, are crazy motherfuckers. This freedom-at-all-costs posture informs everything in American culture, from the music we listen to, to the video games we spend hours playing, to the television programs we watch season after season.
Shows like Breaking Bad allow us to mythologize ourselves. Walter White destroyed lives. We love this guy. Real crime shows like The First 48 are homegrown, pure Americana. We are the unblinking witnesses to our own undoing. We get off on this shit.
There is no cinematic serial killer or other fictionalized bad person that is worse than actual American killers and their deeds. If you could hear what members of law enforcement, rescue personnel and prison guards have witnessed, the testimony and confessions they have recorded, you would wonder how any of them are able to maintain.
I mention all this because, if you take even the briefest of glances at the news, it’s one insane headline after another. I look at photos of ISIS members and think of those wacky al-Qaida training videos of men going hand over hand on what looked like playground recreational equipment. I wonder if they released them in an effort to show the Great Satan that they had done their situps and were ready for global conflict. I conclude that they really had no idea who they were fucking with.
ISIS might be able to wreak havoc in parts of Europe; al-Qaida affiliates might be able to slaughter people in Pakistan. But they wouldn’t survive a parking lot in Cleveland, much less an average weekend in Long Beach.
I am not puffing out our collective chests, nor am I attempting to write a rousing speech about American dominance and global supremacy. I am saying that all the years leading up to 2016 in America seem like the trailer for the epic feature that is the ultimate American reality. We are done with all the pleasantries, push has indeed come to shove, and that feature is now playing. President Obama shook up the can and Donald Trump popped the tab.
These angry Americans — I knew they existed, but I had no idea how many of them there were. In my lifetime at least, I don’t think there has been a presidential candidate with a legitimate shot at winning that these people felt addressed their issues. Now they finally have one.
Listening to broadcasts of Mr. Trump speaking at rallies, which I’ve done a few times now, I’m amazed at how aimless and rambling they are. They sound as if they were pulled off bar napkins, scribbled during a long layover. The audience, by the sound of their approval, don’t seem to have high expectations of their hero, or it could be he’s hitting all the right marks and they need to hear no more than someone else express their fears and frustrations back at them.
That being said, I still wonder if Donald Trump ever thought his campaign would get this far and if he really wants the job. I am scared of his fans but am unable to take him seriously because I don’t think he’s taking the weight of what he’s pulling off the shelf with any seriousness whatsoever.
I don’t have a crystal ball, but I think America is in for a long, hot, violent summer. We have worked ourselves into a lethal lather over embarrassingly lowbrow stuff. We don’t care that the world is watching, nor are we concerned by what they think. We are too consumed by the reality show we’re living in to regard the rest of the world’s population as anything more than mere extras in our billion-grossing blockbuster.
Most of us, thanks to endless “selfies,” are more than ready for our close-up. Whether you like it or not, you’re soaking in it with the rest of us.
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