In the Hulu television series “The Handmaid’s Tale,” based on Margret Atwood’s 1985 novel, environmental pollution started a precipitous decline in birthrates worldwide. The United States then descended into a bloody civil war. The winners were religious fanatics who dissolved the United States and replaced it with the new country of Gilead, a fundamentalist Christian theocracy.
In this theocracy, women are brutalized and suppressed, not allowed to read or write, and are forced to work as slaves in the homes of the leadership caste, known as the Commanders. The tiny fraction of women who test as fertile are forced to become Handmaids, and are assigned to the Commanders’ homes. There, they are subjected to ritualized rape two or three days a month when they are ovulating, in the hopes of giving the Commander and his wife a surrogate baby, conceived and gestated by the hapless Handmaid.
The series follows the life of June Osborne, captured while attempting to escape to Canada. Since June tested fertile, she was pressed into Handmaid service and her five-year-old daughter, Hannah, given to another Commander. June sees and endures indescribable horrors. Homosexuals are called “gender traitors” and shot on sight. Handmaids that break the rules are stoned to death, usually by the other Handmaids. There is military everywhere; Gilead is awash in guns. The character June Osborne, brilliantly portrayed by Elizabeth Moss, fights to escape, get revenge, and find her daughter.
Is there a crisis that will lead to a civil war?
While there’s no fertility crisis, Global Warming is coming at us like a runaway train. Doomsday warnings, by respected climate scientists such as NASA’s Dr. James Hansen in 1988, were ignored. Today, the Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets are melting, the ocean is warming, and hurricanes, cyclones and derechos are becoming more energetic and damaging. Arid places on the planet will worsen, leading to massive migrations of desperate people seeking jobs and food. The current hatred of immigrants, fostered by Donald Trump, will probably get worse.
Think I’m an alarmist? The warming planet means less snow on the mountaintops, which feeds our rivers and streams. For example, have a look at Las Vegas’ Hoover Dam in 1983 and the water levels this year (2021). If this continues, Hoover Dam will have to cut back on its power generation, resulting in serious economic consequences for Nevada and California.
Still not convinced? California, Oregon, and Washington are on fire. Rains brought by Gulf of Mexico hurricanes flood mountain states like Tennessee and urban areas such as New York City. There is destruction everywhere, with no signs of it letting up.
A Rebel Army?
To overthrow the government (state or national), you need a rebel army to jail and assassinate the current leadership. Look no further than the Proud Boys, an all-male white supremacist militia boasting 6,000 members nationwide. These fellows hate everybody: liberals, Democrats, Jews, Muslims, Mexicans, immigrants, anyone who is non-white, and so on. Trust me; you’re on their list. Add to the Proud Boys the many copycat militias sprinkled all across the country; you’ve got a rebel army. The FBI director, Chris Wray, has observed that “the greatest domestic terrorism threat are white supremacist groups.”
The current leader of the Proud Boys is Miami’s Enrique Tarrio, a walking contradiction. While he claims that he is not a white supremacist, he leads a militia banned as a terrorist group in Canada. He worked as an informant for the FBI a few years ago, then ran for Congress as a Republican in 2020 but dropped out before the primary. He’s a friend of Trump fixer Roger Stone. Tarrio and the Proud Boys have been banished from all the major social media networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and others.
The name “Proud Boys” was taken from a song in the Disney Aladdin movie (“Proud of Your Boy”). Tarrio was not involved in the Jan 6th insurrection; only because the FBI prevented him from coming to Washington that day. Tarrio was sentenced to 155 days in a DC jail on theft and weapons charges; he starts his sentence after Labor Day.
To properly stage a revolution, there has to be some public support. It does not have to be a majority. Election results nationwide and polling show about 40% of the United States support Trump and the morphing of the Republican Party into a Q-Anon witch’s brew of religious zealots, conspiracy lunatics, and gun fetishists. That’s not enough to win a national election, but more than enough to stage a coup d’etat.
Imagine getting a million Trump supporters into Washington, guarded by 10,000 Proud Boys and other militias armed with AR-15 rifles and body armor. They could quickly overwhelm the Capitol Police and Secret Service, then declare themselves in charge.
So 40% of the country wants to overthrow the government? They tried on January 6th, but failed because they weren’t armed. The next time, the Trump supporters will bring guns. So the burning question is “what happened to them?”
While much of this ultra-right-wing rage is simply leftover Civil War animosity in the states of the Old South, more interesting is the role played by extreme conservative Christianity. Those churches that teach every word in the Bible (Old and New Testament) is accurate. Unfortunately, Trump has given respectability to these lunatics, and they now invade School Board meetings, Town Boards, and State Legislatures, threatening anyone who is not a “believer.”
Here in Fort Lee county, Florida, alt-right fanatics took over a recent School Board meeting and threatened the members’ lives. In the five-minute YouTube video of what transpired, note the last speaker, Melissa, calls the Board members “demonic entities.” People in her town reported that she is an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) with one year of training. However, she has failed four times to pass the RPN exam (Registered Practical Nurse), which requires four years of education. So her claim to be an expert on infectious diseases is bogus.
Sorry to rain on Nurse Melissa’s rapture training; there has never been a scientifically verified appearance of creatures called Angels, Devils, or Demons. That goes for Leprechaun, Fairies, and Dragons too. The real question is this. Do you want raving lunatics like the people shown in the Lee County School Board meeting running your town, State Legislature, or the Federal Government? How likely are they to further subjugate women, mandate prairie dresses as their approved costumes, force them to be pregnant nine times in their lives? How likely are they to reject science? How likely are they to arrest and kill anybody who doesn’t fit into the white supremacist utopia they seek?
Amy Coney Barrett
One final point. Trump’s third Supreme Court appointment, Amy Coney Barrett, is a member of an ultra-conservative religious cult, The People of Praise. Her title in that cult is Handmaid.
So is the United States on the verge of becoming the Handmaid’s Tale?
Damn close, I’d say. Praise be.