Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Proving once again that past is prelude, a South Carolinian has very noticeably taken matters into his own hands when the federal government got out of line. No – this time there was no cannon shot involved. I’m referring to Chris Cox , a native of Mount Pleasant, who made national news last week when he took a lawn mower to the high grass of Washington, D.C., to clear the World War II Veterans’ Memorial in advance of their Million Vet March.
“These are our memorials. Do they really think that we’ll just let them go to hell?” Cox is quoted as having told a D.C.-area radio station.
Our fellow Sandlapper may have been caught in the iconic picture of this government shutdown. There he was, dressed in jeans and a red South Carolina shirt, carrying our beautiful blue state flag, pushing a lawn mower, lugging a chain saw, a leaf blower and what looks in the photo to be a big supply of trash bags with him. Cox says he wasn’t making an outright political statement, as in the partisan type. He was, however, simply by taking matters into his own hands, making a statement about the American spirit, and how we the people get by and make do in spite of our government, not because of it.
Cox told the Washington Post, “The building behind me serves as a moral compass, not only for our country but for the world. And over my dead body are we going to find trash pouring out of these trash cans,” he said. “At the end of the day, we are the stewards of these buildings that are memorials.”
Cox’s own words and actions answer the question about why he did it. The real question, however, is not why Cox did what he did, but why Park Service Police made him quit.
Think about this – citizens are encouraged by local and state governments to conduct beach sweeps and Adopt-A-Highway programs to clear our beaches and roadways of trash. Those areas, too, are government property. When citizens do those thankless tasks, there’s not a government official in sight offering guidance and supervision.
So you have to ask, why did armed government police make Chris Cox stop mowing grass at the veterans’ memorial? What harm was he possibly doing?
There is a two-part answer to that question. The first part of that answer is that the government shutdown was manufactured in order to be demagogued for political gain. The second part of the answer is that this shutdown was meant to inflict as much pain as possible upon the American people, hoping they would react by wanting more big government whose spending levels cannot be questioned. Think of it – why would the boat ramps around the Lowcountry that are on federal property be shut down? Boat ramps are passive – they are not manned by people on the federal payroll. Reports came in this week that all the federal boat ramps east of the Cooper were gated shut with signs on them like the one I photographed at the Charles Pinckney historic home site. The production and placement of these “shut down” signs begs another question: how did those get printed and put in place if everything was shut down?
Again, we know the answer to that question. The Department of the Interior oversees the national parks and memorials, and it is part of the executive branch. And must I mention who currently heads the executive branch?
A picture of a bumper sticker at the recent trucker rally in D.C. has gone viral. That bumper sticker reads, “Not Democrat. Not Republican. I Just Want My Country Back!”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. Way to go, Chris Cox. You’ve done your native state proud.
Will Haynie has published more than 400 oped columns as a feature columnist for the Asheville Citizen-Times and the Hendersonville (N.C.) Times-News. Find him on Twitter at @willhaynie or email him at Haynie.firstname.lastname@example.org.