This is certainly one of the more depressing posts one can imagine reading - Victor Davis Hanson, writing from his farm in rural California, discusses how the state is descending into anarchy akin to that which marked the start of the Dark Ages. It is a horrific story that he details:
I am starting to feel as if I am living in a Vandal state, perhaps on the frontier near Carthage around a.d. 530, or in a beleaguered Rome in 455. Here are some updates from the rural area surrounding my farm, taken from about a 30-mile radius. In this take, I am not so much interested in chronicling the flotsam and jetsam as in fathoming whether there is some ideology that drives it.
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?
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’sRoad 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). I guess that is our version of Trotskyization.
After page after page of chronicling the lawlessness to which rural California is being subjected, Hanson notes that the police in cash-strapped California are far more focused on pinching the middle class - a reliable source of funds - than investigating and arresting the modern Vandals who are destroying all about him.
The state’s reaction to all this is a contorted exercise in blaming the victim, in both the immediate and the abstract senses. Governor Brown wants to raise income taxes on the top two brackets by 1 to 2 percentage points, making them over 11 and 12 percent respectively. That our schools are near dead last in test scores, that many of our main freeways are potholed relics from the 1960s, that we just passed the DREAM Act to extend state financial support for college-age illegal aliens, and that the overtaxed are fleeing the state do not register. Again, those who in theory can pay, should — and should keep quiet about why they must suddenly pay a 12 percent income tax that was not needed, say, in 1991, 1971, or 1961, when test scores were higher, roads better, and communities far safer.
There is, of course, a vague code of silence about who is doing the stealing, although occasionally the most flagrant offenders are caught either by sheriffs or on tape; or, in my typical case, run off only to return successfully at night. In the vast majority of cases, rural central California is being vandalized by gangs of young Mexican nationals or Mexican-Americans — in the latter case, a criminal subset of an otherwise largely successful and increasingly integrated and assimilated near majority of the state’s population. Everyone knows it; everyone keeps quiet about it — even though increasingly the victims are the established local Mexican-American middle class that now runs the city councils of most rural towns and must deal with the costs. . . .
The influx of over 11 million illegal aliens has had a sort of ripple effect that is rarely calibrated. Sixty percent of Hispanic males in California are not graduating from high school. Unemployment in rural California runs about 20 percent. There is less fear now of arrest and incarceration, given the bankruptcy of the state, which, of course, is rarely officially connected even in small part to illegal immigration. Perhaps because illegal immigration poses so many mind-boggling challenges (e.g., probably over $20 billion lost to the state in remittances, the undermining of federal law, the prejudice shown against legal immigration applicants, ethnic favoritism as the engine of amnesty, subterfuge on the part of Mexico, vast costs in entitlements and subsidies), talking about it is futile. So most don’t, in fear of accusations of “racism.” . . .
Do read VDH's whole column at NRO. Reading this, I feel as if I am reading a dispatch from a spy across the front lines and in enemy territory. It certainly doesn't sound like someplace in the U.S. Indeed, even in third world countries where I have lived, there was nothing like that described by Dr. Hanson. How does one even contemplate righting such a state, where the asylum has been in the hands of the inmates for fifty years?