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The nuts and bolts of things that bug me

Donald Melville

After four grueling years of warfare, it took the infamous Manhattan Project to silence the guns and bring the Second World War to its dramatic conclusion.

I was reminded of this while perusing a church calendar, a mushroom cloud in the calendar’s Aug. 6 square catching my eye. A sobering reminder, this salient smudge signified the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, the fated city dispatched in one sublime, thermonuclear flash, followed three days later by Nagasaki on Aug. 9. Odd, such contentious imagery during today’s controversy over historical references — I thought we were deleting prickly, bygone reminders, not inserting them. Here was an instance of repugnance that the cancel culture’s self-proclaimed social improvement component hadn’t swept under the rug.

Code named “Trinity,” the hypocenter of the first atom bomb test is marked by a 12-foot-high lava-rock obelisk. Designated a National Historic Landmark, the monument sits in New Mexico’s Jornada del Muerto desert. Despite dissenters, I believe it’s still there and upright. But in this reproachful environment of America’s historic monuments, it could be nose down in the desert at the time of this printing. Too bad monuments aren’t given the same consideration as prescription drugs, the downside of a drug accepted right along with the drug's upside.

One lamentable aspect of something is not always reason for its removal. If we had pulled nuclear science from the shelf 75 years ago, 20 million people each year would not now be receiving the benefit of nuclear medicine. One disappointing aspect of something is not necessarily a fair representation of the whole. That we would judge America’s historical players by one sour expression of bygone culture, one ugly aspect of human knowledge, belief and behavior, is unfair to those not here to defend themselves, give a firsthand account of their actions. It bugs me no end.

Here’s another bothersome issue. The average weight of a typical pavement bicycle is 18 pounds; the average weight of an automobile is 1.4 tons. In this David and Goliath matchup, it’s the bicycle that is most likely to lose. But is the meeting of these two moving objects really all about physics, or do dark, human compulsions come into play? In an atmosphere where one object acts upon the other’s space, where moods play a major role and much is assumed, I have no doubt that momentary road superiority accounts for the deaths of tens if not hundreds of bicyclists each year. Where the fault lies doesn’t change the outcome. Because motorist and cyclist are not privy to each others' temperament, I would think erring on the side of caution would be advisable. But we don’t always see it that way, and it bugs me.

How about this? Because my parents and grandparents were Caucasian, it’s assumed that I’m a racist. If I show the slightest interest to the party of Lincoln (Republican), there’s no more assuming. I am a racist! Which is odd because, it was President Lincoln who issued the executive order changing the status of slavery in America forever. On April 15, 1865, Lincoln was assassinated, “deleted,” “canceled.” In the years that followed, Southern Democrats murdered both Republicans and former slaves for their humanitarian views. That the party of Jackson (Democratic) could possibly be the party of today’s African American defies logic; that the party of Jackson gets away with murder in the figurative sense bugs me beyond words.

Sweeping something under the rug is practicing deception. And we do it so well, deceiving even ourselves at times. Instead of celebrating America’s hard-fought victories over adversity, some of us choose to defame and turn achievement inside out, weaponize it, strip it to the bones and wear it like a primitive headdress, to bully and beguile. Such dark, human compulsions are worthy of the savage. They’re regrettable in a civil society and will remain an indelible smudge on the pages of the American story. And, yes, the judgmental attitude and deceptive, rebellious nature of this cancel culture bugs me.

Donald E. Melville, author and regular contributor to Messenger Post Media, welcomes your comments at donaldemelville@gmail.com.