Recently I ordered a bit of merchandise from a Carolina town about 30 miles away. It took some time to arrive. With a little research I discovered that the package had been sent by the USPS to Baltimore! And then to Charlotte, 90 miles from its destination and 120 miles from it place of shipping.
About 18 months ago I began receiving mail and phone messages which, after examination and thought, I concluded constituted an elaborate con game, although a very well done one. (How they got my name I have not got a clue---probably sold to them by the Republican party or some other pseudo-conservative organization I had dealings with in my misspent youth, which lasted up to about 50 years old.) I gathered elaborate documentation of the operations of this group and sent it to three federal and two New York state agencies. Two of the federal agencies never replied, even with a simple acknowledgment. The FBI said, essentially, that it was not their jurisdiction---they are too busy saving the country from terrorism brought by adherents of the Religion of Peace who are here to join the wonderful American Melting Pot. One New York agency referred me to the other, which I had already written and which never replied. A year and a half later I am still getting those peoples’ phone and mail attempts, very clever and legit looking, to get money from me.
A friend sent his early teen-aged boy out to mow the lawn. A neighbor woman, recently arrived from one of those states up North where interfering in other people’s business seems to be a compulsory activity, called the police with a report of child abuse. The boy was not wearing protective gear! The problem was resolved without much fuss luckily, the police here not yet being fully Gestapo-ized. What has happened to us? The North American wilderness was not turned into fruited plains and amber waves of grain by men and boys wearing helmets and goggles. Within living memory, getting the kid to do some work was regarded as a benevolent parental responsibility. And, at least where I come from, trying to dictate to another family and calling the police on them, without extreme provocation, would have been unthinkable. Indeed, it would have been dangerous.
We once rented a duplex from a gracious and generous lady of the old Southern school. During World War II she had been a nurse on a hospital ship in the Pacific that had endured shelling. When she came home, she was put in charge of the State Public Health Department section dealing with venereal diseases. Doubtless the World War II service had been good preparation for this. It was the early 1970s when she told us, with sadness and bewilderment, about a recent experience. (The “Great Society” was just getting into full gear and AIDS had not yet made much of a splash.) A high official in the federal Health and Human Services, or whatever they called it in those days, had arrived to instruct her that in her work she was now ordered to be especially kind and welcoming to homosexuals. This official was a Hindu who could only speak English in the incomprehensible singsong way they have. Wonder where he was during World War II? Wonder how much encouragement our government policy gave to the spread of AIDS? Contemplating our country of tyrants, wastrels, and serfs, I like to think of the old North Carolina mountain lady in a blizzard. Said to be a true story. During the second week of one of the worst blizzards on record, an emergency vehicle finally made it up to the cabin. Two young men hopped out and announced “We are from the Red Cross, ma’am!” “I am sorry,” said the old lady, “I can’t afford to contribute this year, but you are welcome to step in and warm yourselves.”
Clyde N. Wilson is a contributing editor to Chronicles. A retired professor of history at the University of South Carolina, he is the author of numerous books, including Carolina Cavalier: The Life and Mind of James Johnston Pettigrew and Defending Dixie: Essays in Southern History and Culture. He is the editor of The Papers of John C. Calhoun.