An early Robert A. Heinlein novella with the above title described an American theocracy that was eventually brought down in a violent revolution. I have no idea whether the young Heinlein was subject to influences that might have predisposed him to believe that such a future was probable. However, the Afterword to his collection Revolt in 2100, in which that novella appeared, suggests that he did think it plausible at least.
No, that future didn’t arrive. Instead, the United States has turned in the opposite direction: secular and hedonistic. But Heinlein wasn’t the only writer to explore the idea of an American theocracy. Michael Flynn, whose work has often been compared with Heinlein’s, sketched such a future in his The Nanotech Chronicles. If he was guided by presentiments like Heinlein’s, he gave no indication of it.
As usual, I’m sort of skirting my point here, so I’ll put it right out in the open:
One can “assemble” such a “trend” by choosing what to look at and what to ignore, which your detractors will call “cherry-picking” the news. However, the counterpoised effect is just as important:
And inasmuch as some trends are pretty BLEEP!ing scary, the urge to take refuge in I-don’t-see-it denial can be very strong.
The previous 250 words are prefatory. I see a trend in motion. It’s beginning to look to me like an avalanche. And I don’t like what it portends. But I’ll allow that I could be wrong; it’s the absolute requirement of intellectual honesty. In fact, I want to be wrong. So in reading what follows, please, Gentle Reader, do your best to:
- Refrain from an emotional response;
- Focus on the available data;
- If you don’t see it, tell me so and why.
The day had worn him down. His prior case, the fifty-seventh since he’d reached his desk that morning, had just been dragged weeping from the office, but he could not rest. He was behind his quota. The ships were already behind their sailing schedules. He had to plow onward.
He pressed the button on his phone console that signaled to the pen outside that he was ready for his next case. The green indicator light over his office door went dark and the yellow one lit. Barely a minute had passed when the door opened and two husky guards brought him number fifty-eight. As they closed the door behind them, the yellow light above it was extinguished and the red one lit.
This one was female. She looked aged beyond her natural count of years, though the stress of the upheavals could do that to anyone.
The guards sat her none too gently in the restraint chair, secured her shackles to the chair’s hard points, and laid her paperwork on his desk before stepping back to line his office doorway. He reviewed the short description of her status and noted the contents of the check box. He’d seen it checked fifty-three times that day. This made fifty-four.
She’ll have two options. No others.
He steeled himself and faced her squarely. She seemed unable to meet his gaze.
“Have you been informed about what happens here…” He glanced at her form again. Her given name was one of the trendy sort that he found too challenging to pronounce. “…Miss Jones?”
She shook her head, but remained mute.
“I’m your routing officer. You and I have the responsibility for determining the next stage of your life. I’m constrained by the law, but you will have a choice, though your choices are rather limited. The person who limited them was you.”
He picked up the form and waved it at her. “Do you know what this paper says about you?”
She sniffed and shook her head.
“Were you given a chance to read it?”
“Can’t read,” she said.
“Then I’ll read it to you. ‘Miss Jones is 34 years old and a single mother of two sons. Son Tyrell was killed at age 18 during a police raid of a crack den. Son James was serving a life sentence for a gang-related murder when the Sterilization Orders came down. He was 16 at the time of his execution. Miss Jones has never been self-supporting. She tests positive for cocaine, syphilis, and hepatitis B.’”
He looked directly into her eyes. “Do you deny any of that?”
She would not answer.
“Miss Jones, if I go by what’s on this paper, your future will not be a happy one. And I have to go by it unless you can convince me that what it says is not true.”
“Can’t,” she said at last. “It’s right. Never got married. Got by on the welfare. My boys was bad asses. Baddest in the hood.” Her eyes rose to meet his at long last. They flashed in challenge. “Ain’t gonna cry over it. Any of it.”
She thinks she’s hard. Maybe she is. She should hope so.
“Miss Jones, if all this is true, then under the Separation Edicts, there are only two places you can go when you leave this room.” He rose and pointed toward his eastward window. Her gaze followed his gesture and lit on the giant ship that stood waiting in the harbor.
“That,” he said, “is an exile ship. It’s one of your choices. If you choose it, it will take you to another continent, a place where you’ll be set free to live out your life as best you can. There are no whites there, no courts or prisons, and no welfare, either. And very little that you’d recognize from your life here in America.”
She looked out at the giant vessel, plainly uncomprehending. Before the upheaval it had been a cargo carrier. On every trip it had ferried two hundred thousand tons of cargo in steel containers, each one filled with some item the residents of other lands valued, across the breadth of the Atlantic Ocean. Its holds had been refitted as row upon row of barred cells. Its next journey would convey ten thousand exiles to their new homeland. They would next see sunlight, if they saw it at all, when they debarked on the west coast of Africa, in the land that had once been called Liberia.
Most of those exiles had been personally guilty of nothing. They’d merely abetted a race war. Some had promoted hatred of whites. Others, by their promiscuity and negligent parenting, had produced generation upon generation of parasites and violent predators. Still others had done nothing but subsist on the handouts of a too-generous society, indolently declining to add to its riches.
Twenty-three of them had declined to board the ship.
Far too many of them.
“Are you willing to board that ship, Miss Jones?”
She glowered at him sullenly. “Ain’t gettin’ on no ship.”
“I see. Well, you do have another choice, but I can’t recommend it.” He nodded toward the door to the right of his desk. “It goes through that door.” He started to describe what took place on the other side of the door, stopped himself.
It might be better if she didn’t know.
“Would you like me to tell you about that second choice, Miss Jones?”
She sneered and looked away. “Ain’t gettin’ on no ship.”
“I need an answer, Miss Jones. Will you board, yes or no?”
She shook her head.
I suppose that’s good enough.
He nodded to the guards. They released her shackles from the restraint chair and stepped back.
“Then whenever you’re ready, just step through that door and close it behind you. You’ll be given instructions about what to do next.”
She gave him one more contemptuous sneer and shuffled to the second door. The three men watched in silence as she stepped through it. As she closed it behind her, the green phase indicator above it went dark and the yellow one lit. A moment later the yellow gave way to red. The red light glowed for perhaps a minute before going out.
“Sir?” one of the guards said. “Why didn’t you tell her?”
He grimaced. “I thought it might be kinder this way.”
The guard frowned. “Maybe.” He glanced out at the exile ship. “It sure as hell ain’t gonna be kind for them.” They stepped out the door through which they had entered.
He lowered his face into his hands.
I volunteered. I understood the necessity. I still do. But it’s harder than anything I’ve ever done.
Colonel John MacKenzie had led troops into battle. His battalion had been the first into Monrovia, and had led its pacification. He’d killed men who’d been trying their best to kill him. He’d weathered it all and had come home to a wife who loved him unreservedly despite it all…who refused to let him doubt himself.
The men I killed were armed. They went to war knowing the risks. Miss Jones wasn’t armed with anything worse than her attitude.
He felt his tears rising again and sternly shoved them down.
Those are for the men I led who died in honorable combat. Not for the Miss Joneses of the world. They brought this upon themselves even if they were too dull to know it.
He pressed the button that would bring him number fifty-nine.
MacKenzie reached his billet barely able to draw a breath. Estelle awaited him at the front door, as always. His condition was plain to her. She wrapped her arms around him and pressed him to her before he could step over the lintel.
“I love you,” he muttered against her shoulder. Despite his efforts, a single deep sob escaped him.
She stroked his hair and said nothing.
Presently he said. “Mark Thorsten killed himself.”
“I know,” she said. “I spent most of the day with Pam.” A pause. “She wasn’t surprised. She said…she said she saw it coming. John, will she be all right?”
He looked at her in puzzlement. “Was she all right when you left her?”
She frowned. “You know what I mean.”
He grimaced. “I don’t know, Eppie. I hope so. If I hear anything to the contrary, I’ll…I don’t know. This is a first.”
She nodded. “For all of us. How many today?”
“A hundred twenty-six.”
“How many…” Her voice caught briefly. “…for the other door?”
“Forty-seven.” He shuddered. “I stopped telling them, Eppie. After the first twenty-three I just…stopped. I figured it would be kinder that way.”
Her expression was as understanding and accepting as always. She nodded.
“Would you like to, to get out for the evening?” he said. “We could go to—”
She shook her head. “I’d rather stay home with you. Just in case Pam…you know.”
“Yes,” he said. “I know.”
He took her hand, marveling afresh at the contrast between the lightness of her palm and the smooth jet of the opposite side. He brought that palm to his lips and kissed it tenderly.
What a marvel. She knows what’s happening, and accepts it. She knows what I’ve been assigned to do, and accepts it. She doesn’t know why I and the others were chosen for this duty, yet she accepts it. She does know that except for having married me, she would be in that pen, awaiting her own disposition…and accepts it.
“You’re my lifeline,” he said. “My tether to sanity in an insane time. Without you, I might do what Mark did.”
She smiled sadly. “I know. It’s why you were chosen.”
He peered at her. “Huh?”
“Hadn’t you thought about it?” she said. “The Army has plenty of colonels. Some of them would enjoy doing what you do.” She stroked the sides of his face. “I’m the guarantee that you won’t…because you can’t.”
“You do know,” he said wonderingly.
“I always did, John. General Lapierre told me. Let’s have some dinner.”
She took his hand and led him to their kitchen.
Think it won’t happen, Gentle Reader? Think it can’t happen?
I must disagree. It’s drawing nearer all the time. The indicators have never shone more garishly:
- Trayvon Martin.
- “Bryce Williams.”
- Ferguson, Missouri.
- Baltimore, Maryland.
- The “knockout game.”
- The New Black Panthers.
- Black illegitimacy at 69%.
- ”Flash mobs” of black teens.
- Black racialists openly inciting violence against whites.
- The many outbreaks of black-on-white violence chronicled by Colin Flaherty.
- And the rising tide of sentiment among normally peaceable whites that we have had enough.
If it happens, it will be horrible beyond measure. I don’t want it to happen. I fear it greatly. More people will die than have died in all of America’s wars together. But neither my fears nor anyone else’s will prevent it. Only a massive outbreak of good sense among American Negroes, most especially the willingness and determination to discipline their own and accept the verdicts of the judicial system when that discipline fails, can stave off the racial cleansing of the United States: the Separation Edicts and Sterilization Orders of the little story above.
“Bryce Williams” described himself as a “powder keg.” His focus was wrong; it’s America that’s the powder keg. His murders seem to me to bring the match very close to the fuse. We can’t have much time or many chances left to avert the explosion.
If I’m wrong, tell me I’m wrong…but tell me why. Convince me.