Last week an ancestral rural school near the Kings River had its large bronze bell stolen. I think it dated from 1911. I have driven by it about 100 times in the 42 years since I got my first license. The bell had endured all those years. Where it is now I don’t know. Does someone just cut up a beautifully crafted bell in some chop yard in rural Fresno County, without a worry about who forged it or why — or why others for a century until now enjoyed its presence?It is worth reading in full--one of those reminders of how rapidly parts of the United States are collapsing into something that is not truly anarchy--because the criminal justice system will take action against you if you attempt to respond to this widespread criminality--but is not authoritarian in any sense, either: the petty criminals are not even slightly afraid of the police, who, as Hanson points out, are more interested in writing traffic tickets than in stopping felonies. Processing felonies is a money-loser for California; writing tickets to middle class people for using a cell phone while driving makes money for the state.
The city of Fresno is now under siege. Hundreds of street lights are out, their copper wire stripped away. In desperation, workers are now cementing the bases of all the poles — as if the original steel access doors were not necessary to service the wiring. How sad the synergy! Since darkness begets crime, the thieves achieve a twofer: The more copper they steal, the easier under cover of spreading night it is to steal more. Yet do thieves themselves at home with their wives and children not sometimes appreciate light in the darkness? Do they vandalize the street lights in front of their own homes?
In a small town two miles away, the thefts now sound like something out of Edward Gibbon’s bleaker chapters — or maybe George Miller’s Road Warrior, or the Hughes brothers’ more recent The Book of Eli. Hundreds of bronze commemorative plaques were ripped off my town’s public buildings (and with them all record of our ancestors’ public-spiritedness).
The only good news is that it will be a number of years before this madness takes over the rest of the country, and I can hope that it won't be too many years that I will have to live in what Hanson compares to "living in a Vandal state, perhaps on the frontier near Carthage around a.d. 530, or in a beleaguered Rome in 455." It is unfortunate that the Republican Party has pretty well abandoned any effort to stand for anything except being Democrats Lite, out of fear of being called intolerant, racist, and homophobic. If only Christianity still had any significant influence on Americans, there might be a starting point for a moral revival. But alas, we're way past that point.