Reporting for Duty, Briefly

I’m spending the holiday weekend in my home town in South Dakota. The weather has been perfect, there have been lots of family activities, and I’ve paid little attention to the news. Yesterday, after a lakeside church service, we watched the local American Legion baseball team thump its opponent in a double-header, then went to a local emporium to buy fireworks. The variety and explosive power of the fireworks available for purchase in South Dakota is astonishing to one who comes from a nanny-state like Minnesota. For around $100, a family can purchase a reloadable mortar and enough shells to put on a display that would rival that done by a typical municipality, albeit on a smaller scale. And a great many families were doing exactly that.
Then we drove out to my brother’s house, which is on a lake a few miles from town. Along the way, we stopped at one of my favorite stores: a marina/gas station/bait shop/beer store and armory. It’s hard to think of a recreational need they can’t satisfy. There is a big red sign on the wall facing the road that says “Guns & Amo.” (I know, that’s not how I would spell “ammo” either, but you go ahead and tell the proprietors their sign is wrong.) Inside, the store is crammed to the gills with firearms–shotguns, rifles and handguns–with plenty of “amo” and a supply of knives. A variety of bumper stickers and posters are stuck on the walls, all of them, not surprisingly, conveying a conservative message.
My wife likes this store as much as I do. There is something about strolling amid aisles of firearms that gives one a sense of safety and well-being.
From there, we went on to a backyard barbecue, and, when it finally got dark, we put on a modest fireworks display. I bought a “children’s reloadable mortar” kit for my youngest daughter, sort of a starter set to acquaint kids with the pleasures of fireworks.
There are elements of the culture here that would grate on the sensibilities of progressives. Those elements are, I think, ones that progressives thought were dying out, some years ago. But instead of dying out, they are seemingly as strong as ever. Which is one of the factors, I think, that account for the virulence of the current culture wars.


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