Now, this is not to say that my father in law was in any way really like the Bunker caricature – not at all. Archie was an ignorant man. Bob was, though not well educated formally, a well-read autodidact. It was actually hard to win when arguing with him, though the good Lord knows I sure tried. Oh, and I never lost my hair like Meathead/Rob Reiner did (nor my mind).
I have been thinking a lot about Bob recently, not just in the “I sure miss our animated conversations” sense, but wondering how I would be able to conjure up the requisite humility to admit to my favorite forensic foe that, well...er…uh… – he was right all along!
You see, he used to say that one day “they” would mark “us” as dangerous. He always talked about the virtue of gun ownership. His long-time membership in the NRA was one of his badges of honor. He decried illegal immigration – though he had a real heart for all people. He was fiercely anti-abortion and would tell his family that one-day holding this opinion would become dangerous.
A year before he died, he begged my wife and I to sell our house and downsize before the market crashed. Bad times were coming, he was sure of it. And when the rough times came, other bad things would start to happen.
He didn’t live to see the real estate market collapse, the stock market tank, and covers of mainstream magazines proudly proclaiming “We are All Socialists Now,” one week, and “Christianity is Dying,” another. He didn’t live to see historic things happen politically, nor was he – thankfully – around to see us bowing before a dangerous world full of actual enemies.
I guess I am glad he didn’t, but I wonder what he’d say?
What would he make of reading a memo from The Department of Homeland Security talking about the potential danger from “radical right wing extremists” – only to instantly recognize many of his precious values being stigmatized as extreme?
Words like: “may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.”
Or: “ the consequences of a prolonged economic downturn—including real estate foreclosures, unemployment, and an inability to obtain credit—could create a fertile recruiting environment for rightwing extremists…”
Or the always popular in these days as “us” becomes “them”: “Historically, domestic rightwing extremists have feared, predicted, and anticipated a cataclysmic economic collapse in the United States. Prominent antigovernment conspiracy theorists have incorporated aspects of an impending economic collapse to intensify fear and paranoia among like-minded individuals and to attract recruits during times of economic uncertainty.”
One thing for sure, he would probably turn to me, his head shaking from the effects of Parkinson’s syndrome, and say: “Well, Dave, I guess you have to admit I was right after all – huh?” Then, because he had opinions without malice and never lost sight of his core contentment and faith-driven peace of mind, he’d probably add, “Let’s have a sandwich!”
I’d reply, “Sure, but first would you help me pick out my first gun?”
He’d smile and with pride remark: “Dave, you’re sure getting smarter.”