Merrick Garland Prepares to March on Concord
In March of 1766, as Massachusetts Governor Thomas Hutchinson surveyed resistance to the Stamp Act in the colony he governed, ignorance prevailed. Throughout the colonies, he wrote, “the people are absolutely without the use of reason.” They gibbered and babbled their mindless opposition, incoherent and senseless, wholly incapable of understanding the thoughtful actions of their betters in government. The Stamp Act was obvious, a perfectly sensible solution to a set of clear problems – but try telling that to the idiots in the street.
“The common run of the people, lacking the necessary education, leisure, and economic independence to make an impartial assessment of public problems, were mercurial playthings of leaders who could profit by exciting their fears,” the historian Bernard Bailyn wrote, summarizing the views of the British governing class in the decade before the American Revolution.
In 2021, all dissent has again become insane and depraved, wholly without logic or legitimacy. A supposed whistleblower warns that Facebook isn’t doing enough to control hateful and divisive speech, and Congress laps up the message that social media companies are failing to silence disorderly Americans; the National School Boards Association warns the White House that domestic terrorists are attacking local school board meetings by saying things that school board members don’t want to hear, and the Attorney General of the United States responds by directing federal law enforcement authorities to prepare for action against local political speech.
If you haven’t read that letter from the National School Boards Association, for crying out loud read it. It’s an alarm bell ringing in the late stages of an imperiled free society. The letter warns that “threats and acts of violence have become more prevalent,” and concludes that “these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.” Then the letter gives specific examples of the terrorist attacks. Here are some:
“School board meetings have been disrupted in California , Florida, Georgia, and other states because of local directives for mask coverings to protect students and educators from COVID-19.”
“During two separate school board meetings in Michigan, an individual yelled a Nazi salute in protest to masking requirements, and another individual prompted the board to call a recess because of opposition to critical race theory.”
“In New Jersey, Ohio, and other states, anti-mask proponents are inciting chaos during board meetings.”
“In other states including Washington, Texas, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and Tennessee, school boards have been confronted by angry mobs and forced to end meetings abruptly.”
Earlier this month, a student in Tennessee was mocked during a board meeting for advocating masks in schools after testifying that his grandmother, who was an educator, died because of COVID-19.
That’s the violence: people are showing up to school board meetings and saying, often loudly and angrily, that they disagree with local school policy choices. A crowd mocked someone; “another individual prompted the board to call a recess because of opposition to critical race theory.” It’s terrorism. Here’s the last of a long list of specific federal actions that the NSBA explicitly requests: “We also request the assistance of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to intervene against threatening letters and cyberbullying attacks that have been transmitted to students, school board members, district administrators, and other educators.”
They want a police state because of “cyberbullying” – people saying on the Internet that school boards are making bad policy.
But really, read the whole damn thing, and pay close attention to every word: “Additionally, NSBA requests that such review examine appropriate enforceable actions against these crimes and acts of violence under the Gun-Free School Zones Act, the PATRIOT Act in regards to domestic terrorism, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the Violent Interference with Federally Protected Rights statute, the Conspiracy Against Rights statute, an Executive Order to enforce all applicable federal laws for the protection of students and public school district personnel, and any related measure.”
Criticism of school boards should be addressed using the Patriot Act in regards to domestic terrorism. May posterity forget that you were once our countrymen.
The organizing force behind this kind of assault on mere disagreement – these people are criticizing us, why aren’t they being arrested? – is the view of an isolated and out-of-touch governing class, a dead-end technocratic elite that regards all of its presumptions as self-evident and incontestable. And it’s extremely familiar.
It ends where it ends. Years after Hutchinson complained about the stupid and pointless opposition to the Stamp Act, he would be baffled to see his successor reject his interpretation of the growing resistance to parliamentary authority (and ultimately to the authority of the king). The military governor General Thomas Gage, Bailyn writes, “appeared to be arguing that the rebellion was not simply the work of a few ruthless demagogues deluging and inflaming an otherwise well-disposed but inert population; he was faced, he claimed, with a general, popular and widely- and deeply-shared movement of resistance, and he did not think it could be suppressed with less than twenty thousand troops.”
Officials in London thought Gage was an alarmist, worrying too much about a manageable threat, and they demanded that he crack down.
Our governing class is precisely this stupid.