As everyone in Southern California knows very well, Orange County has long been a conservative stronghold. Some might say little has changed since Richard Nixon was born “behind the Orange Curtain” in 1913. For example, just yesterday three counter-protesters were stabbed during a Ku Klux Klan rally at Anaheim’s Pearson Park
. Clearly, therefore, right-wing reactionaries have maintained an undeniably powerful presence in the county. On the other hand, as evidence that some progress has indeed been made, it’s crucial to note that there was a time not long ago when someone who had written a book as incendiary as Chameleo
would not have been welcome among a group of Caucasian Masonic retirees in the very heart of Orange County to discuss the dangers of a National Security State run amok.
The telltale signs of the attendees’ traditional values were evident throughout the meeting. At the very beginning of the event, everyone in the room stood and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. On the front of the podium hung a large red sign that read, “REMEMBER BENGHAZI.” At the conclusion of the meeting, everyone in the room joined together in a Christian prayer. Many of the attendees were former members of the military, including the Navy (a branch of the military that doesn’t exactly come off smelling like gardenias in the pages of Chameleo).
How many mainstream Americans are already aware–at some instinctual level–of the precarious situation in which we all find ourselves? How many of them will get so fed up with the increasingly blatant unconstitutional strictures of a Democracy-turned-Cryptocracy that they will soon have no choice but to begin upending the Machine, dismantling the damn thing piece by shiny piece?
Despite all of this, however, not one Mason in attendance expressed skepticism about the events chronicled in Chameleo. The members of the audience clearly thought the story was strange, needless to say, but not at all unbelievable… perhaps not even unlikely. In 2016, forty-two years after Yorba Linda’s homegrown golden boy, Richard Milhous Nixon, resigned the Presidency, a random sampling of Orange County citizens (as traditional and down to earth as any group of Americans could possibly be) had no problem whatsoever comprehending the full implications of what Schowengerdt and I were saying, how very deeply the country had been plunged into outright authoritarianism.
How many indeed?
Robert Guffey is a lecturer in the Department of English at California State University – Long Beach. His most recent book is Chameleo: A Strange but True Story of Invisible Spies, Heroin Addiction, and Homeland Security (OR Books).
Robert Guffey is a lecturer in the Department of English at California State University – Long Beach. His most recent book is UNTIL THE LAST DOG DIES (Night Shade/Skyhorse), a darkly satirical novel about a young stand-up comedian who must adapt as best he can to an apocalyptic virus that affects only the humor centers of the brain. His previous books include the journalistic memoir CHAMELEO: A STRANGE BUT TRUE STORY OF INVISIBLE SPIES, HEROIN ADDICTION, AND HOMELAND SECURITY (OR Books, 2015), a collection of novellas entitled SPIES & SAUCERS (PS Publishing, 2014), and CRYPTOSCATOLOGY: CONSPIRACY THEORY AS ART FORM (TrineDay, 2012).
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