The great Kevin Williamson contends the current national moment isn’t 1968 all over again. He’s right; if it were, the New York Jets would be on the verge of another Super Bowl win. But if it isn’t quite 1968 again, it feels like the most tumultuous moment since then, with our national fabric torn and something broken in our society.
How is the country doing?
Seventy percent told the New York Times’ pollster that race relations are bad. The raging desire to hurt or kill police officers doesn’t seem nearly as rare as it ought to be. Gunmen targeted police in three states the day after the Dallas shooting. Police in Baton Rouge arrested a 17-year-old who told investigators he and three others stole firearms and were also seeking bullets to shoot police officers. Twenty-one police officers were injured when protesters shut down I-94 in Minnesota last week, with protesters throwing fireworks, rocks, bricks, glass bottles and chunks of concrete.
Chris Cox of Bikers for Trump told CNN that Cleveland’s streets could turn into “the OK Corral” at the Republican National Convention next week. Black Lives Matter refused to participate in the formal permitting process for marches in downtown Cleveland during the convention, meaning unexpected protests are likely.
The most insane ideologies can attract Americans, no matter how malevolent: “Over the past three years, the FBI has arrested dozens of Americans attempting to join ISIS overseas. The FBI currently has 1000 open cases on ISIS leads throughout the country .”
Something violent and despairing is afflicting the national spirit. After years of steady progress on crime, the homicide rates have jumped in the past year in many major cities. The suicide rate has steady increased since 1999, and the rate of increase accelerated since 2006. According to the Centers for Disease Control, since 1999, the rate of deaths from opioid overdose has nearly quadrupled.
How are we doing? It’s feeling a little William Butler Yeats-y, to be honest.
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Maybe that’s over-dramatic. But it feels like the wildly unpredictable, awful news is piling up, making the national environment of most of our recent election years look like comparable order, peace, and prosperity.