This has been a phenomenal year of bittersweet gifts. We had extremely good luck in the election for the presidency, a waking and roaring of the American public beyond the inevitable hustle of “diversity” foisted on the nation by special-interest groups. We are moving — firmly and finally — toward actual awareness of the untapped value of men and women of all backgrounds and faiths.
And though our political discourse is buffeted by gusts of hot air, Washington is sometimes capable of responsibility and serious thought. The suits on Capitol Hill were shaken awake by the slaughter of innocents that took place in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14. Seeing how palpably touched grown men were by the murders of 20 completely innocent children was one of the most moving national experiences the American people have been through in generations — maybe since the national mourning for President John F. Kennedy.
Joe Scarborough, whom many dismissed as a John Wayne character in glasses, shocked the pants off those of us who watched him become a surrogate leader of the conservative movement with a monologue on his MSNBC show. It took the position that his former position on guns was no longer tenable.
These are the man’s own words: “It is time for Congress to put children before deadly dogmas. It’s time for politicians to start focusing more on protecting our schoolyards than putting together their next fundraiser. It’s time for Washington to stop trying to win endless wars overseas when we’re losing the war at home. … For the sake of my four children and yours, I choose life and I choose change.”
Scarborough’s conversion into a sensible national figure has been ongoing, and would have greatly benefited the GOP had its politicians had enough hard intelligence to follow his thoughtful advice. It now includes guns. He reminded me of the way New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a sometimes charming, overweight imitation of Tony Soprano, far too fat and crude to be president, was stripped of all those fictitious right-wing talking points about the need for a smaller federal government. Christie suddenly discovered that made no sense when the ocean was indifferently raging. His state needed the help only the federal government could provide, and should be big enough to provide. He was penetrated to the heart by the sight of the people of his state suffering, without homes, heat and food after the destruction heaped upon them by Superstorm Sandy.
Both men came to recognize the role of federal and local government to achieve goals in a bipartisan way. In doing so, they left the sealed echo chamber that has crippled the Republican Party, turning it into the woefully misled plaything of Roger Ailes, Rupert Murdoch and the Koch brothers.
As sensible conservatives like David Frum and Peggy Noonan have pointed out, the likes of Fox News have created a “conservative entertainment complex” that distorts truth while selling a hot mess of factoids.
You could see what that complex produced in the Dec. 21 press conference by National Rifle Association chief Wayne LaPierre, who seemed to be living in another world as he blamed everyone and everything — Hollywood, the liberal media — except guns and some of those who own them for what happened in Newtown.
Delusion is a powerful drug.
And yet there has never been a better moment in recent politics to see America’s greatness prove itself, for us to finally come to terms with our shortcomings — and then to transcend them in that special way that makes our nation great.
We see, today, someone like the former firebrand Rev. Al Sharpton turning into a responsible commentator who has overcome the shortsightedness and the big hustles of his earlier years. Those shoes were too tight. Sharpton now chooses to talk to all Americans, regardless of their skin color. You see it in the reporting of sharp women like Rachel Maddow, Andrea Mitchell, Joy-Ann Reid and Krystal Ball.
The forces of untruth are not quickly or easily defeated, but then again, we thankfully live in an age when someone can bring down an entire presidential campaign by secretly recording and then posting on the Internet a clip of a candidate talking about 47 percent of the nation.
This is a time of the year usually reserved for generosity, but it was nearly overwhelmed by savagery. As the debate over guns continues, there will be plenty of heated rhetoric, plenty of misinformation, name-calling and insults. The NRA, gun and bullet and clip manufacturers, makers of body armor, profited too, too much on paranoia and irresponsibility; they won’t stop that cash cow now.
But I am confident that, in the end, we will find a way. America always does.
Stanley Crouch can be reached by email at email@example.com.