This is the time every year where we see various “Best of…” and “Year in Review” write ups on every subject imaginable. This is done for two main reasons: 1) Most of the media folks want to take some time off around the holidays and these can be written in advance and 2) they’re usually fun to read. As I always try to do, I’m going against the grain and neither of these apply here – my posts are never fun to read! My other reason for writing this post is that I wanted to follow up on another piece I had written earlier in the year. Unfortunately it became old in the news cycle and I never got back around to writing the second part. Now as a year end post I have the perfect excuse to revive an old story!
In terms of how I picked my villain the obvious choices would be the actors who want to physically harm us – Al Queda, Hezbollah, etc. In this case I’m looking at someone who we would expect to be a friend but showed very different colors when push came to shove. I’m talking about our own government, of course. Both sides of the political spectrum have parts of the government that they generally do not like. In the case of the left, it’s pretty much the military, for reasons that are too much of a tangent to go into here. From the right, dislike is mainly directed at agencies that attack individual freedom – the EPA, NLRB, IRS, etc. In this case I’m looking at an agency that nobody would ever put at the top of a list like this – I’m talking about the National Park Service.
Let’s face it – the NPS is about as benign and nonpartisan agency as anyone could expect. Regardless of where you fall in terms of ideology almost everybody can agree that we want to have national park land and employees to maintain them. And prior to this past fall I had never witnessed, read, or heard anything negative about anything like a thuggish Park Ranger. Granted, I’m not a big outdoorsman1, so I wouldn’t have had much opportunity to deal with an overbearing Ranger while out camping or dealing with renewing a fishing license, etc. But my limited contact with them during my years as a tour guide around DC’s National Mall was never unpleasant, and as far as I saw they all interacted well with the tourists.
Of course, this all changed back in October, when I wrote about the shutdown. Specifically, I talked about how leftists’ unthinking defense of Barrycading our Memorials from visitors demonstrated that the left in this country have become a hopeless case. But there was another element to this story that was digging at me at the time and still is. If you haven’t read my original post you can do it here, but here is a quick summary of the specific incident of foreign tourists being detained at Yellowstone Park that I focused on:
“The bus stopped along a road when a large herd of bison passed nearby, and seniors filed out to take photos. Almost immediately, an armed ranger came by and ordered them to get back in, saying they couldn’t “recreate.” The tour guide, who had paid a $300 fee the day before to bring the group into the park, argued that the seniors weren’t “recreating,” just taking photos.
“She responded and said, ‘Sir, you are recreating,’ and her tone became very aggressive,” Vaillancourt said.
The seniors quickly filed back onboard and the bus went to the Old Faithful Inn, the park’s premier lodge located adjacent to the park’s most famous site, Old Faithful geyser. That was as close as they could get to the famous site — barricades were erected around Old Faithful, and the seniors were locked inside the hotel, where armed rangers stayed at the door.
“They looked like Hulk Hogans, armed. They told us you can’t go outside,” she said. “Some of the Asians who were on the tour said, ‘Oh my God, are we under arrest?’ They felt like they were criminals.”
Image appears courtesy of The People’s Cube
When I saw this happening my initial reaction was simple disgust for obvious reasons. But the more I thought about it something far worse started to set in. Based on our views we all feel a certain level of mistrust and may expect to be antagonized by various agencies in the government, such as the IRS, the EPA, or even our military.2 But the Park Service? Who on Earth expects the Park Rangers to be the first to respond to the government’s call for thugs on command? And if an agency as benign as the NPS can turn on a dime and deem the citizens to be enemies of the state what agency or level of government can we trust to stand up and shout “NO!!!” when being called on to act as agents of tyranny? And I know you lefties reading this are probably just smirking and shaking your heads but keep in mind that tyranny might be fun when it’s someone you like calling the shots or when it’s targeted toward people you don’t like, but it’s foolish to think that it will never turn against you.
Mind you, I’m not going to be watching every Park Ranger I see out of the corner of my eye or anything paranoid like that, but once you lose a level of trust, it is very difficult, if not impossible to ever truly regain. So when we hear the president throw out his usual empty talk with things like
“Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems; some of these same voices also doing their best to gum up the works,” President Obama told the kids. “They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices.”
it comes off as incredibly tone deaf and arrogant. This isn’t even to mention all of the other government scandals from this year alone. If the president wants us to reject those voices maybe he should first reject from their jobs those who are giving us a damned good reason to listen to those voices? I’ll leave you with the same words I used to close out my last post on the subject:
“There was a large group of Asians there. Not many spoke English . . . They said, ‘Are we under arrest?’ I mean, they were fearful. I mean, it looked like we were inside a prison. There were two large guards doing a walk up and down in front of the doors, so people felt like they were in prison. And the Australians said that would never happen in their country. Never never never.”
Up until a few (months) ago I would have said the same of the United States.
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Cross posted from Brother Bob’s Blog
1. Apparently my flesh is the insect equivalent of filet mignon, and I’m not too crazy about having to immerse myself in bug repellent to go on a hike.
2. No, I don’t fear any of our branches of the US armed forces and have nothing but respect and gratitude for those who serve. But history has shown us in other nations that we should not take for granted that the military turning on us will never happen.